By Soni Daniel
The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission EFCC and the Nigeria Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (NEITI), today April 23, 2021 resolved to strengthen their collaboration in fighting corruption in the extractive sector to ensure full recovery of revenues due to the federal government.
Speaking when he received the NEITI Executive Secretary, Dr. Orji Ogbonnaya Orji at the EFCC headquarters in Jabi, Abuja, the Executive Chairman, Abdulrasheed Bawa tasked NEITI to tap the experience and capacity of the EFCC in extractive industries fraud investigation to improve the delivery of her mandate.
“We have developed expertise in oil and gas investigation. We did oil subsidy investigation, we did oil swap investigation, we did OML and OPL investigations, which came with billions of naira recovered. We can work together to ensure that what rightly belongs to Nigeria is ours”
He urged the Agency to take advantage of the Extractive Industries Fraud Section of the Commission, which was created exclusively to tackle fraud in the extractive sector.
“In 2012, the EFCC set up a special team for petroleum subsidy which I was part of, and at the end of our assignment, it was changed into a permanent section in the EFCC. It was changed from special team for petroleum subsidy to Extractive Industry Fraud Section, and the EFCC did not stop at that. We ensured that every Zone of the Commission have that section,” he said.
The EFCC boss expressed a desire to have NEITI participate in a project on fraud risk assessment in the petroleum industry. “We have engaged the minister of petroleum resources and we are working towards having a fraud risk assessment for the entire agencies under the ministry, and with that will come fraud risk management. I will discuss with the ministry that NEITI is a part of it. We have to do all we have to do to ensure that what is due to this country is paid into the coffers. With your help and information sharing, we can do this,” he said
Earlier in his remarks, Orji said he came to the EFCC to strengthen the existing relationship between the two agencies.
He noted that NEITI, since it was established, it has been upfront in the discharge of its responsibilities, culminating in substantial improvement in revenue remittances in the oil and gas sector. Apart from improving revenue accruals to government, he credited the agency with the Petroleum Industries Bill.
He said, “PIB did not come from the blues. It was NEITI that recommended it.” He however expressed regret that the Bill has not been passed into law due to contending interests.
Orji however said that NEITI is handicapped by the fact that it has no enforcement powers.
“We are here to deepen our relationship because we don’t have teeth to bite. Our law does not allow us to arrest, does not allow us to prosecute, but we are allowed to go to other agencies for collaboration with those who can bite, and that is why we are here. Please give us that teeth to bite,” he said.
Orji further observed that the two agencies have a memorandum of understanding, MoU which was yet to be formalized. He requested that the document is signed by the agency heads and a special desk created for seamless relationship and information sharing.
Responding, Bawa said, with or without MoU, the EFCC was willing to strengthen its collaboration with NEITI. He however directed that immediate steps be taken to get the MoU signed.
The EFCC helmsman further offered to assist NEITI in building the capacity of its workforce with training opportunities at the EFCC Academy.
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