the The Nigerian Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (NEITI) has supported the federal government’s decision to establish a ‘Special Inquiry Panel into Nigerian Oil Theft and Losses’, noting that oil theft it has robbed the country of a whopping $46.16 billion in revenue. between 2009 and 2020.
NEITI in a statement described the decision as bold, courageous and timely, considering the fact that oil theft has assumed a terrifying dimension of late, wreaking monumental havoc on the country’s oil production and revenue generation.
“This information and data was provided by an average of eight audited companies over the years,” the statement said.
NEITI further lamented that it was unfortunate that at a time when Nigeria’s economy was heavily dependent on oil revenues, some Nigerians would choose to collude with foreign nationals to steal and sabotage the federation’s main sources of income.
In particular, the Agency expressed its satisfaction with the collaboration between the Offices of the Secretary of Government of the Federation and that of the National Security Adviser in the coordination of the investigations and its wisdom to designate NEITI in this Special Panel in view of the relevance Agency strategy to guide the Panel with reliable information and data.
NEITI in the statement also explained that, as an agency with legitimate interests and mandates to enthrone transparency and accountability in the oil and gas sector, it will seek technical support where necessary from 57 member countries of the Transparency Initiative for Global Extractive Industries to address the international dimension. of oil theft at the work of the investigation panel.
NEITI also revealed that after a careful review of the Oil Theft Investigation Panel’s Terms of Reference, it found the Committee’s terms of reference to be comprehensive, incisive and achievable.
The Panel must, among other things, establish the ramifications of the theft/loss of crude oil in Nigeria; determine the immediate and remote causal factors of the theft/loss of crude oil in the country; as broadly as possible, identify the public, private or foreign persons/entities involved in the criminal enterprise; Determine illegal insertion in Trans Escravos (TEP) pipelines around Yokri area in Burutu local government area of Delta state.
Other recommendations in the Terms of Reference are to establish the level of culpability of the persons/entities identified in the company; Examine the specific functions of regulatory agencies; Tiers/weapons of government security agencies and international oil companies (IOCs) to aid and suppress the criminal enterprise; Assess the effectiveness of the security architecture/arrangement to address theft/losses of crude oil and associated petroleum products and recommend appropriate, proportionate and sufficiently dissuasive penalties for all culprits. The Panel is also expected to recommend steps, procedures and processes to be taken by the government to eliminate the company in the industry to prevent future occurrences.
NEITI assured that by working with other Panel members who have been carefully selected to carry out the investigation of the oil theft, the agency will be more confident in its multiple stakeholders to support the work of the Committee.
NEITI therefore called on civil society, media, development partners and extractive companies to dedicate time, energy and resources to provide reliable information and data to the panel through the open call for submission. of Memoranda from individuals and groups to the Panel. .
In a related development, NEITI has renewed its call on the Federal Government to establish a similar Special Investigative Panel into the Glencore Bribery Scandal.
Glencore is one of a number of Nigerian oil traders who was convicted in the United States and Britain for paying bribes in various sums to some government officials in Nigeria, Cameroon, the Ivory Coast, Equatorial Guinea, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Brazil, and Venezuela. for a period of ten years.
The worldwide public disclosure about Glencore was made by the United States Department of Justice, which later convicted Glencore of said crime. Glencore pleaded guilty to the charges and agreed to pay more than $1.1 billion to the United States government.
Some Nigerian government officials in the oil and gas industry were among those alleged to have received the bribe payments to facilitate and secure crude oil contracts and other business advantages for Glencore.
Following NEITI’s request to the federal government to launch an investigation into the Glencore bribery scandal, NEITI received assurances that the matter is under investigation.
NEITI in the statement strongly believed that A special investigative panel into the Glencore bribery scandal will speed up investigations to apprehend the culprits given the huge implications for investment and the country’s global image.