In its continuing efforts to uncover the truth concerning the non-repatriation of crude oil revenue by the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) as alleged by the governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Sanusi Lamido Sanusi, LEADERSHIP has written to the auditor-general of the federation (AUGF), Mr Samuel Ukura, demanding copies of the reports on the audited accounts of NNPC in the last five years.
The request, anchored on the Freedom of Information Act 2011, was delivered to the AUGF's office last Friday and was officially acknowledged.
The AUGF is charged with promoting accountability in management of public funds, ensuring responsible financial management, and auditing government statutory corporations, commissions, authorities and agencies.
LEADERSHIP has also written to the NNPC, CBN and the National Assembly requesting relevant information that would help to ascertain the correct position on the repatriation or non repatriation of crude oil sales by NNPC. So far, none of the institutions has replied the letter.
According to Section 4 (a) of the FOI Act, any public institution that receives an application for information has seven days to respond but can seek an extension not exceeding seven days, if the volume of document requested is large and extra time is needed to gather it. So far, NNPC, CBN and NASS have exceeded the legally required timeframe to respond and none of them has consulted LEADERSHIP on how to respond to its request as specified by law.
Sanusi had in a letter dated September 25, 2013, drawn the attention of President Goodluck Jonathan to the "Non-repatriation to the Federation Account by the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) of $49.8billion representing 76% of the value of crude oil lifting in 2012 and 2013". In the private letter, which later found its way into the public sphere, Sanusi told Jonathan that out of 594,024,107 barrels of crude valued at $65,332,350,514.57 lifted between January 2012 and July 2014, only $15,528,410,098.77, representing 24 per cent of the value, was remitted to the Federation Account by the NNPC, leaving $49.804 billion or 76 per cent of the value of oil lifted in the same period yet to be accounted for. NNPC's action, Sanusi said, "constitutes not only a violation of constitutional provisions but also of both the Foreign Exchange (Monitoring and Miscellaneous Provisions) Act No. 17 of 1995 and the Pre-Shipment Inspection of Exports Act No. 10 of 1996".
However, NNPC denied Sanusi's accusations. First, it accused Sanusi of playing politics with the issue and lacking knowledge of the "workings of the oil and gas industry and the modality for remitting crude oil sales revenue into the Federation Account".
The NNPC spokesman, Omar Farouk Ibrahim, said the 24 per cent of total crude oil revenue receipts which Sanusi is reported to have acknowledged that NNPC remitted represents the proceeds from the equity lifting which NNPC is directly responsible for. The alleged unremitted 76 per cent was paid to the agencies that are statutorily empowered to receive them for onward remittance into the Federation Account.
Later, in a reconciliation meeting with the coordinating minister for the economy and minister of finance, Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, and representatives of CBN, NNPC, Department of Petroleum Resources (DPR), the Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS), the Office of the Accountant-General of the Federation, the Budget Office of the Federation, and the ministries of Finance and Petroleum Resources, the amount of $10.8 billion (about N1.74trillion), being revenue shortfall recorded between January 2012 and July 2013 for domestic crude receipts, could not be reconciled. Weeks later, NNPC said the amount was part of the subsidy payments.
Not satisfied with the responses and reconciliations, LEADERSHIP has continued to push for the true picture of the issue in fulfilment of its constitutional role as a media organisation as enshrined in Section 22 of Chapter 2 of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria (as amended).