Monday 25th September, 2017
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CORRUPTION: CEOs owned up on missing N30trn - Senate

CORRUPTION: CEOs owned up on missing N30trn - Senate

·    As Nigeria loses N11trn in power sector
The Senate appears to be breaking the cor­ruption hard nut in Nigeria’s import and export sectors as it disclosed that some chief executive of­ficers (CEOs) of 60 companies being investigated for N30 tril­lion revenue leakages have owned up.
 
The money was declared missing in the country’s import and export value chain between 2006 and 2017.
 
This is even as the So­cio-Economic Rights and Ac­countability Project (SERAP) disclosed that Nigeria lost N11 trillion to corruption in the power sector during the former President Olusegun Obasanjo, late Umaru Musa Yar’Adua and President Goodluck Jonathan administrations.
 
According to the Chair­man, Senate Joint Committee on Customs, Excise and Tar­iff and Marine Transport, Sen­ator Hope Uzodinma, probing the scam, some firms have ad­mitted their involvement in the N30 trillion graft.
 
He told newsmen after drilling some of the CEOs in Abuja yesterday, that “they have started confessing their misdeeds.”
 
The lawmaker affirmed that no amount of blackmail would deter the probe panel from carrying out its constitutional roles, particularly with regard to issues that have direct impact on Nigerians.
 
Uzodinma said: “If there is anybody who is still in doubt whether there are recoverable revenues of government in the hands of these companies, by the admission of some of them, it means that the person should better wake up.
 
“We call on all Nigerians to support the Senate. What we are doing and showing by this inves­tigation is that the country can be better and that we can move from where we are now to where we expect the country to be,’’ he stressed.
 
He added that insinuations that the investigation was shroud­ed in secrecy were unfounded, pointing out that the commit­tee was being careful in disclos­ing certain details, as the investi­gation was still on-going.
 
 
 
 “We are not shrouding any­thing in secrecy. The public is in­terested in this investigation and you know the Stock Exchange is an important platform for trade in Nigeria. We don’t want to cre­ate unnecessary panic in the stock market as some of the companies under investigation are public quoted companies.
 
“There is a signal we will let out to the public that will destroy the image and integrity of these companies. We have not arrived at any conclusion yet because the investigations are still on,” he stressed.
 
Uzodinma further disclosed that of the over 60 companies being investigated, the commit­tee had met with the CEOs of 11 of them.
 
He said in the new phase, the committee was meeting with each of the firms at a time and would continue in that manner until they were exhausted.
 
He said “some of the compa­nies approached the committee and expressed their willingness to support our investigation be­cause the process of the investiga­tion may require them revealing some of their trade secrets.
 
“In other not to breach the secrecy that has to do with their business modules, we agreed to their terms because our interest is to achieve result. Some of the companies that appeared before us today have also committed to our success by way of making some admissions here and there,’’ he stated.
 
The companies which met with the committee yesterday were Dana Group, China Ex­port, Emel Group, Halliburton, Bhojson Plc, Bharat Ventures Ltd, Bua International Ltd, Friesland Campina, Boulos Group, CFAO Group and British American To­bacco Company.
 
Presenting the SERAP re­port in Lagos, Dr. Yemi Oke of the Department of Jurisprudence and International Law, Universi­ty of Lagos, said that Nigeria lost a whooping N11 trillion to cor­ruption in the power sector since 1999.
 
Speaking at the media launch of a report on the power sector, he lamented that even though tril­lions had been invested in the sec­tor, Nigeria was yet to enjoy unin­terrupted power supply.
 
The report is titled: “From Darkness to Darkness: How Ni­gerians Are Paying the Price for the Electricity Sector”.
 
Oke noted that the much-cel­ebrated power sector reform was yet to yield the desired results as majority of Nigerians were still in darkness.
 
He said: “The total estimat­ed financial loss to Nigeria from corruption in the electricity sec­tor starting from the return to de­mocracy in 1999 till date, is over N11 trillion.
 
“This represents public funds, private equity and social invest­ment (or divestment) in the pow­er sector. It is estimated that it may reach over N20 trillion in the next decade given the rate of gov­ernment investment and funding in the power sector amidst dwin­dling economic fortunes and re­current revenue shortfalls.”
 
Oke added that preliminary findings showed that corruption in the power sector was caused by weak regulations, institutional de­cay, top-down model of electricity governance and corrupt officials.
 
He said it was further caused by state monopoly, state con­trolled electricity governance model and lack of decentralised energy options.
 
Oke said the inability of the government to bring those who have perpetrated various scams in the sector to justice had con­tinued to create a culture of im­punity.
 
The don, therefore, urged the anti-graft agencies to reinforce the prosecution of such persons and also urged the Federal Gov­ernment to revisit the privatisa­tion process and equally review the Electric Sector Power Re­forms Act 2005 which, accord­ing to him, is at variance with the 1999 Constitution.
 
Also speaking, human rights lawyer, Mr Femi Falana (SAN), urged SERAP to challenge the provisions of the Act in court and also use the Freedom of Informa­tion Act to question the privatisa­tion process.

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