The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) has received the Presidential directive to work closely with other anti-graft agencies to recover over N2.65 trillion unremitted revenues reported by the Nigeria Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (NEITI) in its recent audit report.
The Executive Secretary of NEITI, Orji Ogbonnaya Orji said recently at the presentation of the status report on the EITI implementation in Nigeria during the agencies mid-year briefing and presentation of its scorecard in the past seven months that the 2019 audit report revealed 77 oil and gas companies were still owing unremitted revenues.
Orji said the indebtedness to the federation arose from failure of the companies to remit to the relevant government agencies their petroleum profit tax (PPT), company income tax (CIT), education tax (EDT) , value added tax (VAT), withholding tax (WTH), royalty and concession on rentals.
Following the revelation, the Director and Chief Executive Officer of the Nigerian Financial Intelligence Unit (NFIU), Modibbo Tukur, announced on Friday in Abuja that the President has directed the EFCC to work with the agency to pursue the culprits and recover the debt.
The other agencies include the Independence Corrupt Practices and Other Crimes Commission (ICPC) as well as the National Petroleum Investment Management Services (NAPIMS), the investment management services arm of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC),
Tukur disclosed this at the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) for a partnership between NEITI and the agency.
He said it was unacceptable for the firms to sit on such huge funds at a time the government was sourcing for loans to fund critical development projects.
The Presidential directive, he said, was for the Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning, Zainab Ahmed, to oversee the entire recovery process.
With the directive, Tukur said the Minister is expected to constitute a panel of the anti-graft agencies to recover the unremitted funds.
“This week, Mr President has approved officially all the recoveries to be done in this area. The minister of finance has been directed to set up a recovery panel with the EFCC, NEITI and NFIU in it and even NAPIMS and other agencies,” he said.
He said the government was heading towards an era of maximum transparency, where there would be the consolidation and reconciliation of data from NEITI, NFIU and other agencies with the players and those regulating the sector.
“So, no more hiding of our national revenues. We all know what we are going through. Nobody wants to see the government borrow any more,” he said.
Although he said NFIU had done some work in the past with NEITI, Tukur said this time the new management at the agency was raising the standards in the execution of EITI principles, traversing the entire country and getting results.
“So we have the public accounts analysis and reporting. They analyse every single government account from local government to federal in this country. So, whatever the oil companies claim they have paid would be reconciled with the records we have.
“And we have the oil, gas, maritime and petroleum sector analysis, we also have the natural environment analysis. So, this is also a natural environment issue where people hide and do illegal mining
“They exploit, then they do certain illegal things and move it out of the country without even the Ministry of Mining knowing, Sometimes, they go as far as using resources from the sector to finance terrorism.
He said soon both NEITI and NFIU teams would move to the Ministry of Finance, to sit down and invite these companies to talk on the real issues.