Two anti-graft agencies, the Nigeria Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (NEITI) and the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) yesterday firmed up a pact that would ensure more transparency in the oil and mining sectors.
During the ceremony which took place in Abuja, the Executive Secretary of the NEITI, Dr. Ogbonnaya Orji, signed for the organisation, while Mr. Abdulrasheed Bawa signed for the EFCC.
Both agencies 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, compliance and enforcement of sanctions.
The NEITI and the EFCC 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.
While lauding the formalisation of the partnership and cooperation, Orji noted that in the past, NEITI had no enforcement powers, but added that with the new Memorandum of Understanding (MoU), graft in the sectors would be tackled head-on.
He said: “In the past, there were assumptions that the NEITI can only bark, but cannot bite. But the MoU signed today with the EFCC has provided the NEITI with the teeth, which have been missing. We can now bark and bite.
“The NEITI has expertise in the oil, gas and mining sectors and EFCC has expertise in investigation and prosecution of crimes in extractive sector operations.”
This partnership is, therefore, designed towards blocking leakages, hold people accountable and increase government revenues.”
Orji stated that new boundaries of accountability in the management of Nigeria’s extractive wealth would soon be reached with the strengthening of the relationship with the EFCC.
He advised Nigerians to seek to live modestly through legitimate means and work to add public value in their areas of national assignment for the benefit of Nigerians.
In his remarks, Bawa assured NEITI of EFCC’s 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.
“We know what our two agencies stand for. There are areas that the 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,” he stated.