A constitutional lawyer, Femi Falana, has proffered ways the Nigerian Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative, NEITI, can help recover unremitted revenues due the Nigerian government as highlighted in its oil and gas audit report.
Mr. Falana, a Senior Advocate of Nigeria, said the transparency and accountability agency could report indicted companies and groups to the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, for criminal diversion of public funds.
On the alternative, he said, NEITI could invoke its powers of prosecution and institute civil proceedings in appropriate courts against the affected companies and groups for the recovery of the funds.
He said these suggestions were in line with Section 3(f) of the NEITI Act 2007 which imposes a duty on the agency, “to monitor and ensure that all payments due to the federal government from all extractive industries, including taxes, royalties, dividends, etc are duly made.”
In April 2017, NEITI, in the maiden edition of its Policy Brief, a monthly publication on key transparency and accountability issues in the oil and gas industry, said NNPC alone was owing the federal government unremitted oil revenues totalling about $21.8 billion (about N7.2 trillion).
The Executive Secretary of NEITI, Waziri Adio, said findings from a series of NEITI oil and gas sector audits showed NNPC and its upstream subsidiary, the Nigerian Petroleum Development Company (NPDC) failed to remit over $21.78 billion and N316.1 billion to the federation account.
Mr. Adio said the unremitted funds included $1.7 billion as outstanding revenue from a total of $1.8 billion as a result of the transfer of eight oil mining leases from Shell Petroleum Development Corporation.
Another $2.2 million was not remitted from four other oil leases from the Nigerian Agip Oil Company to the NPDC.
Other unremitted revenues included about $148.3 million paid as cash calls on the transferred oil leases, in addition to about $1.5 billion legacy liabilities as well as about $15.8 billion that accrued as Nigeria LNG dividends between 2000 and 2014.
NEITI had urged the federal government to take steps to recover the unremitted oil revenue from the NNPC and other companies.