• Saturday, June 22, 2024
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SERAP sues NNPC over failure to account for missing $2.04bn, N164bn oil revenues

Nigerian anti-corruption watchdog Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) has filed a lawsuit against the Nigerian National Petroleum Company Limited (NNPC) for allegedly failing to account for over $2 billion and N164 billion in oil revenues.

SERAP’s lawsuit stems from findings documented in the recently published 2020 audited report by the Auditor General of the Federation.

The report alleges that the NNPC failed to remit the aforementioned funds into the Federation Account, raising concerns that the money may have been diverted.

According to the legal action designated FHC/ABJ/CS/549/2024, filed at the Federal High Court, Abuja, the human rights group is seeking “an order of mandamus to direct and compel the NNPC to account for and explain the whereabouts of the missing $2.04 billion and N164 billion oil revenues, as documented in a report by the Auditor-General.

“An order of mandamus to compel the NNPC to hand over suspected perpetrators to the Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission (ICPC) and the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) for investigation and prosecution.

“An order of mandamus to compel the NNPC to ensure the full recovery and remittance of the missing $2.04 billion and N164 billion into the Federation Account.”

SERAP is further arguing that there is a legitimate public interest in providing the details sought, adding that the NNPC has a legal responsibility to account for and explain the whereabouts of the allegedly disappeared fund.

The human rights group is further contending that “The missing oil revenues have further damaged the already precarious economy in the country and contributed to high levels of deficit spending by the government.”

While insisting that without the full recovery and remittance of the missing $2.04 billion and N164 billion oil revenues, the dire economic situation may worsen and Nigerians will continue to be denied access to basic public goods and services, SERAP argued that “The Auditor-General has for many years documented reports of disappearance of public funds from the NNPCL. Nigerians continue to bear the brunt of these missing oil revenues.”

The suit filed on behalf of SERAP by its lawyers, Kolawole Oluwadare and Kehinde Oyewumi, read in part: “The alleged missing oil revenues reflect a failure of NNPCL accountability more generally and are directly linked to the institution’s continuing failure to uphold the principles of transparency and accountability.

“The failure by the NNPCL to account for and explain the whereabouts of the disappeared money is a grave violation of the provisions of the Nigerian Constitution 1999 (as amended), the Freedom of Information Act, national anti-corruption laws, and the country’s obligations under the UN Convention against Corruption.

“Had the NNPCL and its subsidiaries accounted for and remitted the disappeared public funds into the Federation Account, it is likely that more funds would have been allocated to the fulfilment of economic and social rights of Nigerians, such as increased spending on public goods and services.

“The missing oil revenues have also impeded Nigerians’ ability to enjoy their economic and social rights, and denied them access to essential public goods and services, especially at the time of cost of living crisis in the country.

“Nigerians have the right to know the whereabouts of the disappeared oil money.”

As of the time of filing this report, no date has been fixed for the hearing of the suit.