The Nigeria Extractives Industries Transparency Initiative (NEITI) and the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) are to renew partnership agreement to stem corrupt activities and practices in Nigeria’s extractive sector.
A statement by NEITI’s Head, Communications and Advocacy, Obiageli Onuorah said this was the major outcome of a meeting between the Executive Secretary of NEITI, Dr. Orji Ogbonnaya Orji and the Executive Chairman of the EFCC, Mr Abdulrasheed Bawa.
NEITI explained that under the partnership, the EFCC extractive investigation fraud section will henceforth conduct joint operations on the findings and recommendations outlined in the NEITI reports.
The modalities of the joint operation are to be clearly specified in a Memorandum of Understanding to be signed by the chief executives of the two agencies next month, the statement added.
Dr. Orji explained at the meeting that the visit was necessary to secure the support of the EFCC in the areas of investigation of infractions identified by the NEITI’s reports for enforcement and prosecution.
He stated that “Though there is an already existing relationship between NEITI and the EFCC, there is need to further deepen and strengthen the collaboration through the expansion and widening of areas of the cooperation so as to push the boundaries of accountability in the management of Nigeria’s extractive wealth.
“Both NEITI and the EFCC were created about the same time with similar mandates which is to make Nigeria’s resources benefit the people. NEITI cannot carry out this mandate effectively alone. We need partnership and collaboration with agencies like the EFCC. This will make the two agencies stronger”.
The transparency boss pointed out that “NEITI’s reports have always documented remedial issues that needed to be addressed. We have identified about $11.6billion as potential revenues to be recovered into government coffers arising from poor computation of taxes, royalties and other process lapses.
According to Dr. Orji, “The solid minerals sector contributes less than 1% to the country’s GDP with a lot of revenue leakages, wastes and illegal activities proliferated in the sector”.
He noted that “We will share our audit templates with you and mainstream the EFCC special extractives investigation fraud section with NEITI’s technical department for verifiable and accurate information on remedial issues thrown up in NEITI’s audit reports that need to be further investigated”.
The NEITI Executive Secretary commended the EFCC on its bold and courageous achievements and urged the agency to join NEITI to fight for the heart and soul of Nigeria in extractive revenue management. He assured the anti-graft agency of NEITI’s support as the two agencies together to reverse the resource curse syndrome.
Dr. Orji thanked President Muhamadu Buhari for the appointment of pioneer officers of the two agencies (NEITI & the EFCC) as the chief executive officers.
According to him, “We are both part of the institutional memories of our organisations. The confidence reposed on us by our appointments is a proof that our agencies have come of age and the investments made in building human capacity in the organisations have yielded positive results”.
In his welcome remarks, the EFCC boss, Abdulrasheed Bawa said: “The extractives investigation fraud section was established to work with and for NEITI and we have the unit in all our zonal offices. We will look at the NEITI Audit reports, investigate infractions and ensure that Nigerians get justice”, he stated.
Mr Bawa also asserted that the EFCC will jointly work with NEITI and the Ministry of Solid Minerals Development to address the administrative gaps in the solid minerals sector.
“We are ready to increase the manpower capacity of the extractive investigation fraud unit and deploy EFCC operatives to ensure that minerals leaving the country are adequately accounted for”, he explained.
He noted that the EFCC is mandated to work with other agencies of government.
“We have developed the expertise in the oil, gas and mining sector investigation and operations and presently engaging with the Ministry of Petroleum Resources for a fraud risk assessment of all agencies in the ministry. This will lead to the development of a fraud risk management”, Mr Bawa stated.
The EFCC chairman noted that NEITI will serve on the fraud risk assessment team and the assessment extended to other agencies of government. He also extended invitation to NEITI to avail its staff of the Commission’s training school for collaborative capacity building initiatives.