From Uche Usim, Abuja
The Nigeria Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (NEITI) and the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) have signed a Memorandum of Understanding on joint cooperation aimed at tackling graft by prosecuting the perpetrators.
The Chief Executive Officers of the anti-corruption agencies, Dr Orji Ogbonnaya Orji and Mr. Abdulrasheed Bawa while signing the MoU, renewed and re-affirmed their commitment to partner and collaborate in the fight against corruption in Nigeria’s extractive sector.
Under the MoU, signed by the two organisations, NEITI and the EFCC agreed to cooperate in the areas of information and data sharing, joint operations, prevention and remediation actions on governance, processes and corruption issues in Nigeria’s extractive sector. Other areas of cooperation and partnership include regular capacity building and trainings, participation in fraud risk assessment efforts, Investigation, prosecution and management of information and compliance and enforcement of sanctions.
Other specific areas of cooperation are on issues emanating from NEITI audit reports with specific reference to financial misconduct. Both agencies also agreed that the modalities for the collaboration and partnership “Must be based on the implementation of the EITI principles and the NEITI processes and within the operational mandate of the EFCC”.
The Executive Secretary of NEITI, Dr. Orji Ogbonnaya Orji lauded the formalization of the partnership and cooperation. According to Dr. Orji, “In the past there were assumptions that NEITI can only bark, but cannot bite. With the MoU signed today with the EFCC, the MoU have provided NEITI with the teeth which have been missing. We can now bark and bite. NEITI has expertise in the oil, gas and mining sector and EFCC has expertise in investigation and prosecution of crimes in extractive sector operations. This partnership is therefore designed towards blocking leakages, holding people accountable and increasing government revenues”.
Orji stated that “as an agency, we are very proud of the courage and excellence that this institution has exhibited in the face of challenges”. He added that by the MoU, “NEITI’s relationship with the EFCC has been strengthened and anchored on a procedure that has been formalized”.
The EFCC Chairman, Abdulrasheed Bawa, assured NEITI of its commitment and support towards achieving the goals of the MoU. “We have given you our teeth for us to bite together. Here at the EFCC, we have the Extractives Industry Fraud Section established to deal with issues in the extractive industry. We have strengthened efforts at the Airports to ensure that there is sanity in the way our minerals are accounted for”, Mr. Bawa stated.
According to Mr Bawa, “We know what our two agencies stand for. There are areas that NEITI cannot reach that we can reach. This MoU therefore, is about prevention, enforcement and coordination to rid our country of economic and financial crimes in all its ramifications and especially in the extractive industry.
The EFCC boss noted that the MoU is clear on what is expected of his agency and assured of his commitment to implementing it to the letter. “We at the EFCC believe so much that if we can block the leakages in revenue especially in the extractive sector, Nigeria will not need to borrow a kobo from anywhere to fund its budget”, he emphasized.