- As NEITI moves to unveil oil blocks owners
By Vivian Ojekeme and Etuka Sunday
The Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami, SAN has asked the International Oil Companies to settle their unpaid arrears of approximately $62.1billion to the Federal Government of Nigeria.
This is Just as the Nigeria Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (NEITI) yesterday disclosed that it would reveal the owners of oil blocks in its long awaited Beneficial Ownership Register to be unveiled on December 12, 2019.
Malami in a statement issued by Dr. Umar Jibrilu Gwandu, his Special Assistant on Media and made available to newsmen in Abuja yesterday, noted that since the signing of Deep Offshore and Inland Basin Production Sharing Contracts Act CAP D3 Law of the Federation of Nigeria 2004 (as amended) 2019 for oil exploration in deep offshore and inland basis, the Federal Government was to get more shares of the oil revenue which the international companies did not pay, the arrears of which was estimated as at 2018 at sixty-two billion one hundred and ninety million, six hundred and seventy-nine thousand, seven hundred and ninety three dollars.
Speaking on the media reports on development, the Minister said the matter was not about percentage to be given to the recovery agency, but of patriotic desire to get back to the country the revenue it deserves noting that the 5% was a reduction from what it used to be during the past administration.
The Minister noted that the 5% proposed success contingent fees was an unprecedented reduction from what it used to be.
“The 5% as a recovery fee is a product of innovation introduced by the Federal Government upon the assumption of office of the President Muhammadu Buhari as against 30% and above which was the traditional fee by the previous administration”.
According to Malami, “the comparative basis is not the Lagos budget as the considerable parameter, but the amount due for the recovery which in the circumstance is approximately $62, 190, 679,793.00 as at December 2018”.
The Attorney-General of the Federation argued that “when you convert $62, 190,679, 793 billon dollars into naira it will give you an amount more than 20 trillion naira.
“ By virtue of Section 162 of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999 as amended, the amount in question is more than enough for three years budget of the most populated African country, Federal Republic of Nigeria considering the 2020 budget of 10.3 trillion naira.”
Malami said that it was not about the composition and who the recovery agents are, but the funds belonging to the Nigerian masses must be recovered for the government to carry out more development projects for the benefits of the teeming population who brought the government into power and whose interest the Federal government stands firm to protect.
It could be recalled that three oil producing states of Bayelsa, Rivers and Cross River had filed an action in the Supreme Court on 27th April, 2019 praying, among other things to “recover and pay immediately all outstanding statutory allocations due and payable to the plaintiffs”.
On 19th January, 2018, Trobell International (Nig) Ltd forwarded proposal to the Office of the Attorney-General of the Federation
requesting to be engaged as an agent to recover diverted proceeds of the Governments of Nigeria due from the share of profit from oil under the various Production Sharing Contracts made pursuant to sharing contract made pursuant to Section 16(1) of the Deep Offshore and Inland Basin Production Sharing Contracts Act CAP D3 Law of the Federation of Nigeria 2004.
Following the approval for Trobell International (Nig) Ltd to undertake the task on April 12th 2018, the company engaged the services of lawyers, engineers, financial experts and petroleum experts nominated by the three state governments.
On oil blocks, the Executive Secretary of NEITI, Mr. Waziri Adio while addressing journalists shortly after a meeting with the Head of International Secretariat of the global Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (EITI), Mr. Mark Robinson who is in Nigeria on a working visit, said the meeting was organised to afford civil society actors, journalists and Mr. Robinson a platform to exchange views on NEITI implementation in Nigeria, and the ongoing reforms in the oil and gas mining sector.
Represented by the Director, Communications and Advocacy, NEITI, Dr. Orji Ogbonna Orji, the ES said, “Our beneficial ownership register will be released on December 12, 2019. The first country in the world to release the register that tells you who owns what in the oil and gas industry. Who are the owners of oil blocks in the country? That kind of information is very necessary to track tax evasion, illegal transfer of funds (Money Laundering), funding of terrorism, and that is why our work is Central to anti-corruption and the current reforms in the country,” he said.
He said, though NEITI’s data collection is done manually, there was an assurance that the 2017 report would be released between yesterday and today.
“Our data collection is done manually. The 2017 report will be released between today (yesterday) and tomorrow (today). Currently, our 2018 report is ready. We have procurement for 2019 report,” he said.
He said, NEITI and the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) have agreed to sign a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) that will strengthen the partnership and cooperation between the two agencies in the fight against corruption.
“The MoU will focus more on identified financial crimes disclosed by the NEITI reports in the oil, gas and mining industries. “
He said, a joint Committee between the Nigeria Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (NEITI) and NNPC on the findings and recommendations contained in the NEITI reports has been inaugurated.
Also speaking, Mr. Mark Robinson said, the International Secretariat was satisfied with Nigerians especially the Civil Society engagements towards the EITI process in Nigeria.