Nigeria/EITI

Buhari Directs Immediate Recovery Of N2.659trn Owed Nigeria By Oil Companies

NFIU Director, Modibbo Tukur and NEITI ES, Dr Orji Ogbonnaya Orji during the signing of a MoU between both agencies in Abuja on Friday

By Juliet Ukanwosu

President Muhammadu Buhari has directed the immediate recovery of N2.659trillion owed the federation by oil companies operating in the country.

This was disclosed on Friday during the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) between the Nigeria Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (NEITI) and the Nigerian Financial Intelligence Unit (NFIU), by the NFIU Director, Mr. Modibbo Hamman Tukur.

Extractive360 reports that NEITI, had last week, raised the alarm that 77 oil companies still owe the federation N2.659trillion according to its audit findings.

The said amount arises from the non-remittance of petroleum profit tax, company income tax, education tax, value added tax, withholding tax, royalty and concession on rentals by the defaulting oil and gas companies, according to NEITI.

A breakdown of the figures shows that a total of $143.99million is owed as petroleum profit taxes (PPT), $1.089billion as company income taxes (CIT) and $201.69Million as education tax. Others include $18.46million and £972,000 as Value Added Tax, $23.91million and £997,000 as Withholding Tax, $4.357billion as royalty oil, $292.44million as royalty gas, while $270.187million and $41.86million were unremitted gas flare penalties and concession rentals respectively.

MoU signing between NEITI and NFIU in Abuja

Tukur, during the meeting at the NEITI secretariat in Abuja, commended the agency for a good job and particularly, Dr Orji for his commitment and passion to see that the right things are done in the sector since taking over leadership of NEITI.

He disclosed that the President has directed the setting up of a joint committee, to be headed by the Ministry of Finance, on recovery of all unremitted revenue as reported by NEITI, including those also reported by the NFIU.

“This week Mr. President has approved officially all the recoveries to be done in this area. The Ministry of Finance has been directed to institute a recovery panel.

“We are heading to maximum transparency; there will be consolidation of data from NEITI, NFIU and other relevant agencies. And there will be very clear reconciliation with the players and regulators in the sector. No more hiding of national revenue,” the NFIU boss stated.

He explained that the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) NEITI, NFIU, National Petroleum Investment Management Services (NAPIMS) and other relevant agencies will make up the joint revenue recovery panel.

According to Tukur, besides the reported unremitted N2.659trillion revenue by NEITI, the NFIU have additionally uncovered over $5billion and N700billion not paid in the area of operations by oil companies.

“Soon both our agencies will move to Ministry of Finance, sit with erring oil companies and resolve the issues and recover these outstanding revenues. If the oil companies are saying they are paying, we will verify what they have paid to government accounts… We all know what we are going through economically. Nobody wants to see the government borrowing,” he said.

Dr Orji (right) and Mr. Turkur in a chat before the commencement of the MoU signing ceremony

Tukur also disclosed that the committee will equally be looking into illegal activities and revenue loss in the mining sector. “We will also be looking into the mining sector where people do illegal mining, exploit our resources and move it out of the country illegally. Sometimes they use these proceeds to finance terrorism, we have seen some of such cases,” he said.

Reacting to the development, Dr Orji said NEITI is on the right track as the agency’s job is to provide information and data in the public domain that can be used to hold government and companies accountable.

“We are not comfortable that at a time when government is looking for money to fund national budget and meet citizens demand especially in the area of job creation, we find in our reports some money that can be deployed to address these demands, not recovered. We are happy to hear that the President has responded and we will be willing to work with all relevant agencies to ensure the recovery of these monies,” Dr Orji said.

The explained that the MOU being signed is sequel to a June meeting between the NFIU and NEITI, adding that the essence of the partnership is underpinned on joint information sharing, capacity building and support for NEITI’s investigative issues arising from criminal activities in the oil gas and mining sector, especially where it undermines national security.

 

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