By Adetokunbo Mumuni/SERAP
A civil society group, Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) has called on “the International Anticorruption Conference (IACC) holding its 15th session next week in Brazil to withdraw any invitation for the participation of Nigerian government officials if the government does not move swiftly to ensure full accountability and justice for the complicity of government officials and multinational oil companies over the loss of tens of billions of dollars in oil and gas revenues over the last decade, documented by the Mallam Nuhu Ribadu led Petroleum Revenue Special Task Force.”
In a public statement dated 28 October 2012 and signed by SERAP Executive Director Adetokunbo Mumuni, the organization stated that, “Nigerian government officials should not be allowed to participate in an important event like the IACC meeting while senior government officials and multinational oil companies act with almost absolute impunity and continue to divert oil and gas revenues into private pockets rather than for the common good. It is not only immoral but also unlawful and amounts to an outright stealing of the commonwealth of our people and a serious violation of human rights.”
“The Ribadu report has aptly illustrated the systemic nature of corruption and impunity of perpetrators. Setting up countless panels has not and will not produce any tangible result. Unless international pressure is brought to bear, it is unlikely that any serious action will follow this embarrassing indictment. Citizens’ efforts to stand up for human rights, good governance, transparency, accountability, and the rule of law will only be successful if complemented by international action and solidarity,” the organization also stated.
The organization said it “has been invited to make presentation at the IACC event in Brazil, and we will make the full accountability and recovery of the missing oil and gas revenues documented by the Nuhu Ribadu report a cardinal point of our presentation at the meeting.”
The organization also said that, “The Conference should call on the Nigerian government to officially release the report; and bring to justice suspected perpetrators whatever the political, social or economic status. The Conference should also urge the government to put in place mechanisms and codes of conduct to ensure that all of the country’s oil and gas licences and assets are granted and sold by public tender. Such a move would help prevent corruption and ensure the state gets the highest possible price for its natural resources.”
“SERAP is also calling for all Nigeria’s natural resource revenues to be declared, including details on signature bonuses and licences. International codes of conduct for the operation and accountability of multinational oil companies operating in Nigeria should be urgently developed and implemented to address the continuing complicity of these bodies in corruption and resulting poverty in the country,” the organization added.
The UN conference also called the International Anticorruption Conference is the world premier forum that brings together heads of state, civil society, the private sector and more to tackle the increasingly sophisticated challenges posed by corruption. The IACC takes place every two years in a different region of the world, and attracts up to 1500 participants from over 135 countries. The conference serves as the premier global forum for the networking and cross-fertilisation that are indispensable for effective advocacy and action, on a global and national level.
The IACC draws attention to corruption by raising awareness and stimulating debate. It fosters the global exchange of experience and methodologies in controlling corruption. The conferences promote international cooperation among agencies and citizens from all parts of the world, helping to develop personal relationships by providing the opportunity for face-to-face dialogue and direct liaison between representatives from the agencies and organisations taking part.
The meeting next week is hosted by the Office of the Comptroller General (OCG) based in the Brasilia, Brazil and two civil society hosts based in São Paulo. These are the TI National Contact point- AMARRIBO, which stands for Amigos Associados de Ribeirão Bonito and is a network of organisations and Instituto Ethos, a non-profit organisation focusing on Business and Social Responsibility.
The 146-page document produced by the 17-member task force, set up by the Minister of Petroleum Resources, Mrs. Diezani Alison-Madueke, in January covers the year 2002 to the present. According to the Reuters news agency, the report provides new details on Nigeria's long history of corruption in the oil sector, which has enriched its elite and provided the oil majors with hefty profits while two thirds of the people live in poverty.
Alison-Madueke confirmed receipt of the report but said it was a draft and the government was still supposed to give its input. But the report submitted by the Ribadu committee was marked “final”. The report concluded that oil majors - Shell, Total and Eni - made bumper profits from cut-price gas, while Nigerian oil ministers handed out licences at their own discretion.
The report alleges that international oil traders sometimes buy crude without any formal contracts, and the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) had short-changed the federation of billions of dollars over the last 10 years by selling crude oil and gas to itself below market rates.
The Ribadu committee was among several set up by Alison-Madueke following a week of nationwide strikes against a rise in fuel prices in January, which morphed into a campaign against oil corruption. Among others, tt had as its terms of reference: to work with consultants and experts to determine and verify all petroleum upstream and downstream revenues (taxes, royalties, etc.) due and payable to the Federal Government of Nigeria; to take all necessary steps to collect all debts due and owing; to obtain agreements and enforce payment terms by all oil industry operators; to design a cross debt matrix between all Agencies and Parastatals of the Federal Ministry of Petroleum Resources; and to develop an automated platform to enable effective tracking, monitoring, and online validation of income and debt drivers of all parastatals and agencies in the Federal Ministry of Petroleum Resources.
The report also said foreign oil firms had outstanding debts. Addax, now a unit of China's state-owned Sinopec, owes Nigeria $1.5 billion in unpaid royalties, part of a $3 billion black hole of unpaid bonuses and royalties owed by oil firms. Shell owes Nigeria's government N137.57 billion ($874 million) for gas sold from its Bonga deep offshore field, the report said, while oil majors owed $58 million between them for gas flaring penalties. They were also not adhering to newer higher fines.
The report also revealed that Nigeria was the only nation to sell all its crude through international oil traders rather than directly to refineries, adding that such trades were often opaque. It said some international oil traders who were not “on the approved master list of customers” had been sold crude oil “without a formal contract” so little could be obtained about the details of these deals, which can be worth hundreds of millions of dollars.
According to the report, NNPC gets an allocation of 445,000 bpd of crude oil to refine locally but has been selling its allocation at cut-down prices, a practice which cost Nigeria $5 billion in potential revenue between 2002 and 2011. Also, oil ministers between 2008 and 2011 handed out seven discretionary licences but there is $183 million in signature bonuses missing from the deals.
SERAP Executive Director
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