NEITI, ICPC to push transparency in Nigeria’s extractive sector
As part of measures to drive transparency and ensure the extractive sector benefits the masses, Nigeria Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (NEITI), has disclosed that a new memorandum of understanding (MoU) has been signed with the Independent Corrupt Practices and other Related Offences Commission (ICPC).
The pact is expected to drive the implementation of the NEITI audit report findings and recommendations.
The Executive Secretary of NEITI, Dr. Orji Ogbonnaya Orji signed on behalf of NEITI while the Chairman of the ICPC, Prof. Bolaji Owasanoye signed on behalf of the Commission.
In the MoU, the NEITI and the ICPC agreed to collaborate on investigating infractions identified in the NEITI industry reports, enforce sanctions, prosecute erring covered entities and provide general institutional support towards enthroning transparency and accountability in Nigeria’s extractive industries.
NEITI, had signed a similar deal expected to track and identify over $20 billion unremitted revenue to companies with the Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS)
The Executive Secretary told the media that he was satisfied that the partnership between the NEITI and the ICPC is now anchored on a robust MoU.
“The focus of this MoU is to provide incentives for good conduct and stringent sanctions for bad behaviour in the conduct of business in Nigeria’s oil, gas, and mining industry”, Dr. Orji emphasised.
Orji added that “We see ICPC as a very strong partnership that we need to work within our intervention in the extractive sector. Our intervention is aimed at freeing up resources in the extractive sector to support the government’s efforts at providing the much-needed infrastructure for Nigerians, uplift their standard of living, and support national development”.
He called on covered entities to take seriously the findings and recommendations of NEITI reports and take the necessary steps to implement the recommendations.
“All findings and recommendations in NEITI reports will be jointly investigated with the relevant anti-corruption agencies and culpable entities sanctioned and promptly prosecuted”, Dr. Orji warned.
The Chairman of the ICPC, Dr. Bolaji Owasanoye expressed delight that the partnership agreement has culminated in the MoU which validates the agreement.
“We have committed to having focal persons dedicated to NEITI operations, have quarterly interactions as well as extract cases for investigation and further follow-up actions from NEITI audit reports”, Owasanoye added.
Owasanoye observed that the timing of the MoU was very significant with the assent of the President to the Petroleum Industry Act. “Our collaboration will have a positive impact on the implementation of that legislation and improvement in the transactions and governance processes of the oil and gas sector, including recovery of revenue into government coffers”.
A special desk on NEITI has been created by the ICPC and a focal person appointed. NEITI is expected to feed the desk with information and data on extractive industry revenue process abuses and lapses. Both agencies will jointly investigate infractions where it occurs, while ICPC prosecutes and sanctions erring covered entities.