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Audit Firms Drag FG, NNPC, Others To Court Over Alleged N61trn Fraud

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A non-governmental organisation under the aegis of Reality Advocacy Against Corruption (RAAC), along with its 13 associates have dragged the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) before a Federal High Court Abuja, wherein they are claiming that NNPC is indebted to the Federation Allocation and Accounts Committee (FAAC) to the tune of about N61 trillion over the past six years.

Specifically, RAAC, a team of forensic accountants and their associates alleged that NNPC had been using transactions performed at one of its subsidiaries, the National Petroleum Investment Management Services (NAPIMS), as well as operations involving foreign oil companies, especially the Joint Venture Cash Calls, to dupe the country of humongous amounts of money, through phoney and hidden deals.

They are therefore asking the court to order the NNPC not only to remit the said stolen money to the Federation Account but to also prevent the Corporation from transmitting the assets, interests and liabilities of NAPIMS to the newly created “Nigerian National Petroleum Company Limited in line with section 54 of the Petroleum Industry Act, 2021 LFN or such other laws, pending the full declaration of the assets, liabilities and interests of its subsidiary companies through the Group Audited Financial Statements”.

Other plaintiffs, in the suit filed on 7th October 2021 include First Synergy Resources Ltd, NUBIA Tigris Ltd, Golden Dreams Nig Enterprises Ltd, Sanusi Mamman Muri, Fidelis Uzonwanne and Adewale Aremu Olaiya. Others are Mr Ozioma Ezeogu, Mr Simon Garba Eluma, Alhaji Aliyu Idris, Mr Charles Okoli, Michael Adinoyi Bello Esq, Idris Waziri Esq and Kingsley Fred Perobo.

Listed as defendants in the suit filed by Barristers Edwin Agbu, Mike Bello and Amarachi Osuji of Blue whales and Company, counsel to the plaintiffs, are; the NNPC, Federal Government of Nigeria, Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice (AGF), and Federal Ministry of Finance.

Other defendants are; Directors of Auditing Firms which included – Pedro Omontuemhen (trading in the name and style of PricewaterhouseCoopers), Abel Atalor (Muhtari Dangana & Co), Ismaila Zakari (Ahmed Zakari & Co) and Robert Odiachi (SIAO Partners).

In the suit, marked FHC/ABJ/CS/1202/2021, RAAC claimed that the allegedly fraudulent financial transactions occurred between 2015 and May 2021.

Already, Barrister Olawunmi Nwanmo, a Partner at Alegh & Co (Legal Practitioners & Notaries Public) had written the plaintiffs stating that PricewaterhouseCoopers, SIAO Partners, Muhtari Dangana & Co (Chartered Accountants) and Ahmed Zakari & Co. (Chartered Accountants) have retained their services in the said issue.

The NGOs in one of their processes they filed in the court dated August 23rd, 2021, are insisting that “NNPC, as at 2019, was confirmed to have tucked away Accumulated Revenue of over N11trillion in the books and records of NAPIMS, after paying over N7.9 trillion secret dividends to yet-to-be-identified beneficiaries and yet has continued to show fewer positions to the Nigerian people”.

They further alleged that “between 2020 to date, NNPC has continued to grossly under-declare distributable revenue to FAAC by at least N100 billion every month, yet in some months, it refused to remit anything to FAAC.

“For example, in May 2021, NNPC declared zero remittance to FAAC, even when it had over N250 billion remittable that month but manipulated records to the Federation.

“That between March 2020 and May 2021, NNPC repaid fictitious or non-existent loans to the tune of $1.2 billion under the cover of projects Cheetah, Falcon, Santolina, etc.

“That NNPC was found to have purportedly repaid some $4.4 billion expressed in loans with the Federation’s crude oil without the repaid amounts being reflected or reduced the liabilities.

“That the NNPC manipulated some relevant details/indices in its Audited Financial Statements at least for the year 2019/2018, more particularly with indices relating to Domestic Crude Oil purchases, and consequently under-declared its due remittable to the Federation Account by over N3 trillion.

“That the NNPC manipulated its records and remitted less revenue to FAAC under the cover of under-recovery or subsidy, which our clients believe is a fluke”.

The plaintiffs insist that “our forensic analysis of the Audit Financial Statements (AFS) 2019/2018 of NNPC, its Monthly Financial & Operations Reports up to 2020, NNPC’s Return to FAAC up to May 2021 and other sundry publicised documentation of the NNPC on the oil and gas industry between 2015 and May 2021 have revealed that NNPC is indebted to FAAC and therefore, the three Tiers of Government by N60,714,067,945,500 as at May 2021”.

The plaintiffs had as of August 23rd, 2021, drawing the attention of the Minister of Finance, the Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice (AGF) as well as the Nigeria Governors’ Forum to their findings and pending lawsuit.

Meanwhile, Justice Taiwo Taiwo of the Federal High Court sitting in Abuja will today hear the matter.

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