Why We Cannot Investigate NNPC – EFCC

The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, says it is waiting for the forensic audit of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation, NNPC accounts, before it will commence investigation into the alleged unremitted funds.

EFCC chairman, Ibrahim Lamorde, made this known on Thursday at the commission’s 2014 budget defence before the Senate committee on Drugs, Narcotics and Financial Crimes.

Lamorde said investigations into the financial position of the NNPC were technical and required experts to conduct a comprehensive audit to unveil its true financial position.

He said that the outcome of the forensic audit of NNPC would provide the EFCC with the materials required to conduct criminal investigation into the accounts of the corporation.

“When this controversy started we had about three figures. Now we have settled more or less on 20 billion dollars. The minister of finance said that they want to commission an audit firm to do a forensic auditing of the finances of the NNPC. You need a professional firm to handle this. This is not a common investigation. These are very technical things,” he noted.

Lamorde added: “Let the audit be carried out. Let’s know exactly what we are talking about, understand what the figures are and criminal investigation can follow. You can’t start an investigation on nothing. You can’t put a super structure without a base. So, we need that base to put our own investigation on it.”

Lamorde told the committee that the anti-graft agency secured 117 convictions in 2013 and that it had already secured 30 convictions within the last two months.

He said the commission looked forward to securing not less than 150 convictions for financial crime offenders at the end of 2014.

The commission proposed a budget of N21.5 billion for 2014, explaining that the EFCC needed the sum of N9 billion to enable it complete construction of its permanent headquarters in Abuja; but the Budget Office proposal slashed it down to N10.2 billion.

Chairman of the committee, Victor Lar, expressed the disappointment of Nigerians in the failure of the EFCC to probe the missing oil funds.

“People are sad that in spite of the existence of the EFCC, there were no early warning or signs to have given a hint that such monumental breach were afoot. This idea of waiting for the National Assembly to complete investigations before you swing into action is baffling. It is escapist and I think it is not an acceptable approach because if you swing into investigations, the questions you ask are not the same as the ones we do,” he stated.

He, however, commended the EFCC for the high number of convictions it secured at various  courts and urged it to work toward achieving more in 2014.

Meanwhile, the auditor general for the federation, Samuel Ukura, said that 20 auditors trained in gas and oil auditing were examining the accounts of the NNPC.

Ukura said this when he appeared before the House of Representatives committee on Public Accounts in Abuja to defend the 2013 and 2014 budgets.

    “We had a budget of N60 million for training and we were able to train 20 officers who are presently on the field auditing the accounts of the NNPC,” he said.

    On the performance of the 2013 budget, Ukura told the committee that the recurrent budget was implemented 100 per cent while the capital budget was implemented only 57.7 per cent, amounting to N374.157 million.

    In a remark, the chairman of the committee, Solomon Adeola (APC- Lagos), directed the AGF to submit all payment vouchers and receipts of payments and contracts awarded by his office.

    He said the auditor general should again appear before the committee on Tuesday, March 4 to defend the 2014 budget.

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