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HEDA urges government to expedite investigation into OPL 245

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A Non-Governmental Organisation, Human and Environmental Development Agenda (HEDA Resources Centre), has called on the Federal Government to expedite the investigation of parties suspected to be involved in the alleged controversial Oil Prospecting Lease (OPL) 245 scam.

Addressing journalists in Lagos, HEDA in a jointly-signed research report, entitled: “Corrupt Practices in Nigeria’s Oil Industry: OPL 245 Case Study,” said it is important to facilitate the investigation of the controversy to logical conclusions and prosecution and necessary recovery of assets due to the Federal Government of Nigeria.

The report stated, “Completion of investigation and prosecution of cases in respect of OPL-245 have become desirable in demonstration of Nigerian government’s resolve to reposition the oil sector.”

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HEDA said other critical recommendations that should be accorded desired attention are the need to extradite persons already indicted in the ongoing court cases to enable them answer to corruption charges, while the government must be committed to the revocation of the OPL 245 licence, in addition to ensuring proper inventory of assets connected thereof that may require forfeiture.

HEDA further recommended thorough evaluation of other existing prospecting licences with a view to ascertaining the likelihood of irregularities that may require remedies.

The report reads: “Need to overhaul existing governance models and templates for the award of oil prospecting licences to avert the ugly experience associated with OPL-245, judicial inquiry on oil prospecting regime in Nigeria with the view to availing the public proper and adequate information.”

It stressed the need for a special panel or committee of experts to review the conditions under which licences were renewed in the past 10 years, even as it called for the full automation of industry monitoring and regulatory agencies, to drastically reduce human-induced losses and abuse of processes.

The report also stressed the need to ensure that host communities; the major victims of corruption in the industry, are adequately compensated, while oil companies’ post-remediation and compensation should, as part of commitment to greenhouse gas emission reduction, translate into global quest to keep the oil in the ground in the overriding desire to safeguard the environment.

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