SERAP sues Tinubu over failure to probe missing fuel subsidy funds

0
405

The Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project has sued President Bola Tinubu, over “the failure to probe the allegations that $2.1 billion and N3.1 trillion public funds of oil revenues and budgeted as fuel subsidy payments are missing and unaccounted for between 2016 and 2019.”

SERAP filed a lawsuit against Tinubu at the Federal High Court in Lagos, seeking an order of mandamus to promptly investigate allegations that $2.1 billion and N3.1 trillion in public funds are missing and unaccounted for between 2016 and 2019.

Additionally, they are seeking an order of mandamus to compel President Tinubu to direct anti-corruption agencies to promptly investigate fuel subsidy payments made by governments since 1999, name and shame and prosecute suspected perpetrators and recover any proceeds of crimes.

SERAP is also seeking: “an order of mandamus to direct and compel President Tinubu to use any recovered proceeds of crime as palliatives to address the impact of the subsidy removal on poor Nigerians, and to put in place mechanisms for transparency and accountability in the oil sector.”

In the suit, SERAP argues that: “The allegations that $2.1 billion and N3.1 trillion of public funds are missing and unaccounted amount to a fundamental breach of national anticorruption laws and the country’s international obligations including under the UN Convention against Corruption to which Nigeria is a state party.”

SERAP also stated that “The Tinubu government has constitutional and international legal obligations to get to the bottom of these allegations and ensure accountability for these serious crimes against the Nigerian people.”

According to them, “Directing and compelling President Tinubu to promptly probe, name and shame and bring to justice the perpetrators and to recover any missing public funds would advance the right of Nigerians to restitution, compensation, and guarantee of non-repetition.”

SERAP further noted that “Allegations of corruption in fuel subsidy payments suggest that the poor have rarely benefited from the use and management of the payments.”

According to the lawsuit filed by SERAP’s lawyers, Kolawole Oluwadare, Ms. Adelanke Aremo, Ms. Valentina Adegoke, and Ayomide Johnson, there can be no economic growth or sustainability without accountability for human rights crimes. Poor and socio-economically vulnerable Nigerians should not be made to pay for the stealing of the country’s oil wealth while state and non-state actors pocket public funds.

“Investigating and prosecuting the allegations, and recovering any missing public funds would serve the public interest, ensure justice and accountability, and end the entrenched impunity of perpetrators.

“According to the audited reports between 2016 and 2019 by the Auditor General of the Federation (AGF), the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) failed to remit N663, 896,567,227.58 into the Federation Account. The Auditor-General fears that the money may be missing.

“The NNPC also reportedly failed to account for the allocation of crude oil to refineries in 2019. 107,239,436.00 barrels of crude oil were lifted as domestic crude without any document. The Auditor-General fears that the crude valued at N55, 891,009,960.63 may have been diverted.

“The NNPC 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 NNPC also failed to account for N4, 572,844,962.25 of ‘domestic gas receipts’, thereby ‘reducing the distributable revenue in the Federation account.’ The NNPC 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 NNPC also ‘illegally classified’ 239,800 barrels of crude oil valued at N5,498,045,220 as ‘crude oil losses.

“The Department of Petroleum Resources (DPR) in 2019 also reportedly failed to remit $1,278,364,595.49 in revenue to the Federation Account. The money was deducted by the NNPC from the Oil and Gas Royalty assessed by the DPR.

“The DPR in 2019 also deducted N19, 840,081.29 as ‘stamp duty’ payments from contractors and consultants but the DPR instantly paid back the money to the contractors and consultants instead of remitting it to the treasury.

“The DPR in 2019 also paid N137, 225,973.35 to contractors and consultants for various contracts and consultancies but failed to deduct stamp duty.

“The DPR also paid N11,856,088,271.92 as salaries for 2019 but failed to deduct N118,560,882.72 as the contribution of 1% Industrial Training Fund (ITF). The DPR in 2019 also failed to transfer a $35,738,342.95 year balance.

“The DPR in 2018 also withdrew without any explanation $759,387,755.10 from DPR Signature Bonus Account rather than paid the money into the Federation Account.

“Subsidy records show that N443, 940,559,974.80 was paid as total subsidy for 2016 but the money was not budgeted for. The payments were for outstanding Petroleum Support Fund (PSF) commitments for the year 2015. However, there was no payment in 2016. Only outstanding payments for previous years 2014 and 2015 and interest payments were made in 2016.

“The Auditor-General fears that the oil marketers that received the subsidy payments may not have been ‘eligible to draw from the Petroleum Support Fund as the Petroleum Products Pricing and Regulatory Authority (PPPRA) failed to provide any document on the payments.

“N39, 141,210,181.74 was also paid from the Federation Account in 2016 to different Oil Marketers in 26 transactions, being Payments of Interest and Foreign Exchange Differential on Subsidy but without any document.

“The NNPC also made ‘zero profit’ and recorded ‘losses from its joint ventures in 2016. This is contrary to expectations that profits should be made from the joint ventures.

“The Ministry of Petroleum Resources, Abuja in 2016 paid N14, 490,000.00 for the supply of 3 Nissan Almera Saloon vehicles 1.5 to the Ministry without proper documentation. The purchase of the vehicles were made through direct procurement without competitive bidding by at least three companies, as required by Financial Regulations. There was no advertisement and bidding for this contract.

“Although ‘N12,442,500.00 was approved by the Bureau of Public Procurement for the vehicles, the Ministry made an overpayment of N2,047,500.00 to the car company.”