Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) has urged President Bola Ahmed Tinubu to “set up a presidential panel of enquiry to promptly probe the grim allegations that US$2.1 billion and N3.1 trillion public funds of oil revenues “budgeted as fuel subsidy payments are missing and unaccounted for between 2016 and 2019, as documented by the Auditor-General of the Federation.”
SERAP urged Tinubu to name and shame anyone suspected to be responsible for the alleged widespread and systemic corruption in the use of oil revenues and the management of public funds budgeted as fuel subsidy, and to ensure their effective prosecution, as well as the full recovery of any proceeds of crime.
The organization also urged him “to promptly, thoroughly, independently, transparently and effectively probe all fuel subsidy paid by successive governments since the return of democracy in 1999, and to use any recovered proceeds of crime as palliatives to address the impact of any subsidy removal on poor Nigerians.”
In the letter dated 3 June 2023 and signed by SERAP deputy director, Kolawole Oluwadare, the organization said the Tinubu government should urgently follow due process of law in any policy to remove fuel subsidy.
The letter read in part: “Any removal of fuel subsidy should not be used as a ploy to keep the poor in poverty while those who allegedly stole oil revenues and fuel subsidy payments keep their ill-gotten wealth.
“Allegations of corruption in oil revenues and fuel subsidy payments suggest that the poor have rarely benefited from the use and management of the revenues and payments.
“Poor and socio-economically vulnerable Nigerians should not be made to continue to pay the price for the stealing of the country’s oil wealth while state and non-state actors pocket public funds.
“We would be grateful if the recommended measures are taken within three days of the receipt and/or publication of this letter. If we have not heard from you by then, SERAP shall take all appropriate legal actions to compel your government to comply with our request in the public interest.
“The proposed panel should be headed by a retired justice of the Supreme Court or Court of Appeal, and its members should include people with proven professional records and of the highest integrity that can act impartially, independently, and transparently.
“A comprehensive approach that prioritizes accountability and full recovery of missing crude oil and public funds is required to address the problems of the implementation of fuel subsidy since 1999.
“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.”