SERAP tasks Tinubu on probe of alleged mismanaged $2.1b, N3.1tr fuel, subsidy funds
SOCIO-ECONOMIC Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) has urged President Bola Ahmed Tinubu to urgently investigate the allegations that $2.1 billion and N3.1 trillion oil revenue and fuel subsidy payment are unaccounted for between 2016 and 2019, as documented by office of the Auditor-General of the Federation.
It implored the Nigerian leader to name and shame anyone behind the alleged systemic corruption in the use of oil funds and mismanagement of fuel subsidy, in addition to prosecution and total recovery of proceeds of crimes.
The group also pleaded with him to promptly, thoroughly, independently, transparently and effectively probe all payments made as fuel subsidy by successive administrations since return of democracy in 1999 and use recovered proceeds of crime as palliatives for subsidy removal.
In a letter dated June 3, 2023 and signed by its deputy director, Kolawole Oluwadare, SERAP said there is a legitimate public interest in ensuring justice and accountability for the allegation in the interest of economic growth and accountability.
The organisation said: “Your government should urgently act to follow due process of law in any policy to remove fuel subsidy, ensure that suspected perpetrators of these crimes against Nigerians are brought to justice and full recovery of any missing public funds.
“Arbitrarily removing fuel subsidy without addressing outstanding accountability issues in the alleged mismanagement of oil revenues and fuel subsidy payments would amount to punishing poverty and further impoverishing the poor, while letting high-profile officials and non-state actors get away with their crimes.”
It added that fuel subsidy removal should not be used as a ploy to keep the poor in poverty, while those who allegedly stole oil revenue and mismanaged fuel subsidy keep their ill-gotten wealth.
Noting that allegations of corruption in oil and fuel subsidy funds suggest that the poor have rarely benefited from use and management of the affected funds.
The rights group said poor and socio-economically vulnerable Nigerians should not be made to keep paying the price for theft of the country’s oil wealth, while state and non-state actors pocket public funds.
SERAP recommended that the proposed probe panel should be headed by a retired judge of the Supreme Court or Court of Appeal with its members including people with proven professional records and integrity.
It continued: “A comprehensive approach that prioritises accountability and full recovery of missing crude oil and public funds is required to address the problems of implementation of fuel subsidy since 1999.”
“According to the audited reports between 2016 and 2019 by Auditor General of the Federation (AGF), the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation Limited (NNPCL) failed to remit N663,896,567,227.58 into the Federation Account. The Auditor-General fears that the money may be missing.”
The organisation said the national oil company also reportedly failed to account for allocation of crude oil to refineries in 2019, noting that 107,239,436 barrels were lifted as domestic crude without any document.
SERAP went on: “The Auditor-General fears that the crude valued at N55,891,009,960.63 may have been diverted.
“The NNPCL in 2019 also failed to remit N1,955,354,671,268.66 and N55,157,702,848.74 of generated revenues into the Federation Account, contrary to Section 162 (1) of the Nigerian Constitution 1999 (as amended). The Auditor-General fears that the money may have been diverted.
“The NNPCL also failed to account for N4,572,844,962.25 of ‘domestic gas receipts’, thereby ‘reducing the distributable revenue in the Federation account’. The Auditor-General wants the money remitted.
“The NNPCL also in 2019 failed to account for 22,929.84 litres of PMS pumped from refineries and valued at N7,056,137,180.00. The Auditor-General fears that the PMS may have been diverted.
“The NNPC also ‘illegally classified’ 239,800 barrels of crude oil valued at N5,498,045,220 as ‘crude oil losses’. The Auditor-General fears that the crude oil may have been diverted.” The group advised Tinubu to prioritise accountability and good governance.