Following the alleged missing oil revenue claims levelled against the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC), Nigeria’s anti-graft agencies, the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) and the Independent Corrupt Practices and other related offences Commission (ICPC), yesterday said that investigations by the latter into the corporation’s account are beyond their competence.
Given reasons for their inadequacies, the anti-graft agencies explained that the account of the NNPC was so ‘sophisticated’ that it requires the expertise of experienced professionals which the EFCC and ICPC lack.
The revelation was made by both agencies while appearing before the Senate Committee on Drugs, Narcotics, Financial Crimes and Anti-Corruption to defend their 2014 budget.
But the EFCC, which spoke through its chairman, Ibrahim Lamorde, explained that the involvement of the National Assembly in the investigation of alleged missing $20 billion was responsible for its delay to intervene.
Lamorde said: “The issue about the NNPC is already being investigated by the National Assembly. For every investigation, once the National Assembly is on it, we have to wait until they conclude. The minister of finance said that they want to commission an audit firm to do a forensic auditing of the finances of the NNPC.
“You need a professional firm to handle this. This is not a common investigation. These are very technical things. Let the audit be carried out. Let’s know exactly what we are talking about, understand what the figures are and criminal investigation can follow. You can’t start an investigation on nothing. You need a foundation. You can’t put a super structure without a base. So we need that base to put our own investigation on it.”
Also, ICPC said its inability to probe NNPC over the years was due to sophistication of the agency’s account, which is far above its capacity.
The commission’s acting chairman, Prof. OluAina said, “The account of NNPC is so sophisticated that it would require hiring financial experts to study it for needed investigation, the cost of which, however, cannot be afforded by us due to under-funding.”
Responding to allegation that the commission was selective in its prosecution, the EFCC boss said, “The case of the fuel subsidy payment for which we charged people to court is still very fresh.”