The Federal Government has constituted a panel comprising, the Nigeria Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (NEITI), the Nigerian Financial Intelligence Unit (NFIU), the Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission (ICPC), and the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), to recover about N2.65 trillion unremitted funds from 77 oil companies operating in Nigeria.
NEITI had disclosed that the total amount constitutes unremitted petroleum profit tax, company income tax, education tax, value added tax, withholding tax, royalty and concession on rentals, which these 77 companies did not pay.
The NFIU Director and Chief Executive Officer, Modibbo Tukur, who broke the news of the President’s approval, said the Minister of Finance has been directed by the President to oversee the process, including the setting up of a panel of the anti-corruption agencies to recover the unremitted monies.
Tukur, who spoke when he visited the NEITI Secretariat to officially sign a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) between the two agencies, expressed displeasure at the huge debt.
He said it was unacceptable that the government was being owed such huge funds at a time it was borrowing to fund major projects around the country.
Tukur said: “And that (NEITI’s hard work) has led to some kind of fruition because I briefed him (President Muhammadu Buhari) this morning and you may not be aware of it. This week, Mr. President has officially approved all the recoveries to be done in this area. The Minister of Finance has been directed to set up a recovery panel with the EFCC, NEITI and NFIU in it and even NAPIMS and all the others.
“So, we are heading to maximum transparency. And there will be consolidation of data coming from NEITI, from NFIU and other agencies and there will be very clear reconciliation with the players and those regulating the sector. So, no more hiding of our national revenues; we all know what we are going through. Nobody wants to see the government borrow.’’
He noted that based on analyses of the financial flows, a huge chunk of monies from the extractive industry was either being moved out of Nigeria illegally or used in financing terrorism.
We are talking about N2.6 trillion, then we also reported over $5 billion not paid in the area where the players are, which is the Niger Delta area. And then over N700 billion not paid, and in some cases companies receiving as agents and not even remitting.
He continued: “This is also a natural environment issue where people hide and they do illegal mining, they exploit, then they do certain things and they move it out of the country without even the Ministry of Mining knowing, and sometimes they go as far as using this sector to finance terrorism.
“We ran into so many cases, in this particular area when we were doing our analysis on terrorism. So, I think today is the day to congratulate you because we are taking off, and you will see the results because now we have all seen the zeal.
“We are talking about N2.6 trillion, then we also reported over $5 billion not paid in the area where the players are, which is the Niger Delta area. And then over N700 billion not paid, and in some cases companies receiving as agents and not even remitting.”
Earlier, the Executive Secretary, NEITI, Orji Ogbonnaya Orji, said the essence of the collaboration was to strengthen partnerships to ensure that available resources are prudently managed in a manner that benefits all Nigerians.
He explained that the process that led to the MoU began earlier in the year, with special attention to the management of information and data in the oil, gas and mining sectors because of the strategic importance of the sectors to the economy.
Orji expressed his delight at the President’s quick intervention to enhance NEITI’s work, adding that the organisation had also met with the EFCC, and ICPC, for similar engagements which have gone beyond signing papers.