By Gift Eguavoen
The Nigeria Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (NEITI) has signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) to prosecute corruption issues in Nigeria’s extractive sector.
Both agencies also agreed to cooperate in the areas of information and data sharing, joint operations, prevention and remediation actions on governance and processes in the sector.
The agreement was signed in Abuja by the Chief Executive Officers of the anti-corruption agencies, Dr Orji Ogbonnaya Orji for NEITI and Mr. Abdulrasheed Bawa for the EFCC.
While signing the MoU, the agencies renewed their commitment to partner in the fight against corruption in Nigeria’s extractive sector and agreed to collaborate on regular capacity building and trainings, fraud risk assessment efforts, investigation, prosecution and management of information and enforcement of sanctions.
Other specific areas of cooperation are on issues emanating from NEITI audit reports with specific reference to financial misconduct. Both agencies also agreed that the modalities for the collaboration and partnership must be based on the implementation of the EITI principles and the NEITI processes and within the operational mandate of the EFCC.
The Executive Secretary of NEITI, Dr. Orji Ogbonnaya Orji who lauded the formalization of the partnership said NEITI was perceived in the past as an agency that can only bark, but cannot bite. He said, “The MoU has provided NEITI with the teeth which have been missing. We can now bark and bite. NEITI has expertise in the oil, gas and mining sector and EFCC has expertise in investigation and prosecution of crimes in extractive sector operations. This partnership is therefore designed towards blocking leakages, hold people accountable and increase government revenues”.
He noted that though there is an already existing relationship between NEITI and the EFCC, there is need to further deepen the collaboration through the expansion of areas of cooperation so as to push the boundaries of accountability in the management of Nigeria’s extractive wealth.
For his part, EFCC Chairman, Abdulrasheed Bawa, assured NEITI of its commitment and support towards achieving the goals of the MoU, saying the EFCC has given NEITI biting teeth. “Here at the EFCC, we have the Extractives Industry Fraud Section established to deal with issues in the extractive industry. We have strengthened efforts at the Airports to ensure that there is sanity in the way our minerals are accounted for”, Mr. Bawa stated.
“This MoU therefore, is about prevention, enforcement and coordination to rid our country of economic and financial crimes in all its ramifications and especially in the extractive industry. We believe that if we can block the leakages in revenue especially in the extractive sector, Nigeria will not need to borrow a kobo from anywhere to fund its budget” he added.