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Petrol Subsidy: SERAP Sues Tinubu Over Failure to Probe Missing $2.1bn, N3.1trn Payments

They also sought an order to direct and compel Tinubu to use any recovered proceeds of crime as palliatives for poor Nigerians.

The Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) has filed a lawsuit against President Bola Ahmed Tinubu, over the failure to probe the allegations that $2.1 billion and N3.1 trillion oil revenue budgeted as fuel subsidy payments were missing and unaccounted for between 2016 and 2019.

The suit followed allegations documented by the Auditor-General of the Federation in the 2016 and 2019 annual reports that the public funds were missing.

In the suit number FHC/L/CS/1107/23, filed last Friday, at the Federal High Court in Lagos, SERAP also sought, “an order of mandamus to direct and compel President Tinubu to promptly probe allegations that USD$2.1 billion and N3.1 trillion public funds are missing and unaccounted for between 2016 and 2019.”

SERAP sought an order of mandamus to compel Tinubu to direct the anti-corruption agencies to promptly probe fuel subsidy payments made by governments since the return of democracy in 1999, name and shame and prosecute suspected perpetrators, and to recover any proceeds of crimes.

SERAP also sought an order to direct and compel Tinubu to use any recovered proceeds of crime as palliatives to address the impact of the subsidy removal on poor Nigerians, and to put in place mechanisms for transparency and accountability in the oil sector.

In the suit, SERAP argued that the allegations that US$2.1 billion and N3.1 trillion of public funds were missing and unaccounted amounted to a fundamental breach of national anticorruption laws and the country’s international obligations including under the UN Convention against Corruption to which Nigeria is a state party.

SERAP also argued that the Tinubu’s government has constitutional and international legal obligations to get to the bottom of the allegations and ensure accountability for these serious crimes against the Nigerian people.

The suit filed on behalf of SERAP by its lawyers, Kolawole Oluwadare, Adelanke Aremo, read in part: “There will be no economic growth or sustainability without accountability for the human rights crimes. Poor and socio-economically vulnerable Nigerians should not be made to continue to pay the price for the stealing of the country’s oil wealth while state and non-state actors pocket public funds.

“Investigating and prosecuting the allegations, and recovering any missing public funds would serve the public interest, ensure justice and accountability, and end the entrenched impunity of perpetrators.

“According to the audited reports between 2016 and 2019 by the Auditor General of the Federation (AGF), the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) failed to remit N663,896,567,227.58 into the Federation Account.

“The Auditor-General fears that the money may be missing. The NNPC also reportedly failed to account for the allocation of crude oil to refineries in 2019. 107,239,436.00 barrels of crude oil were lifted as domestic crude without any document.

“The Auditor-General fears that the crude valued at N55,891,009,960.63 may have been diverted. Subsidy records show that N443,940,559,974.80 was paid as total subsidy for 2016 but the money was not budgeted for.  The payments were for outstanding Petroleum Support Fund (PSF) commitments for 2015. However, there was no payment in 2016. Only outstanding payments for previous years 2014 and 2015 and interest payments were made in 2016.

“The Auditor-General fears that the oil marketers that received the subsidy payments may not have been ‘eligible to draw from the Petroleum Support Fund as the Petroleum Products Pricing and Regulatory Authority (PPPRA) failed to provide any document on the payments.’”

Udora Orizu

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