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HURIWA hails NNPC’s decision to open its books for EFCC probe

A prominent Non-Governmental Organization in Nigeria, the Human Rights Writers Association of Nigeria (HURIWA) has tasked cabinet ministers, Directors-General of federal agencies and parastatals, to initiate immediate invitation to the anti-corruption agency of Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) to forensically examine their finances as they are winding up the administration of President Muhammadu Buhari as has just been done by the Group Chief Executive Officer of the Nigerian National Petroleum Company Ltd, Mele Kyari.

HURIWA in a statement signed by its National Coordinator, Comrade Emmanuel Onwubiko, said the action of the top hierarchy of the NNPC by inviting the anti- graft agency to look through their management of public funds will remain an indelible landmark and commendable.

The leading civil Rights Advocacy group also stated that the self-invitation of the EFCC by the NNPC represents a new high and has crossed the threshold of the recommendations made by such global bodies like the World Bank, the International Monetary Fund and the United Nations, to governments all over the World to implement effective mechanisms for the promotion of open government in the management of public resources.

The NNPC had invited the EFCC to probe a report published in some media platforms that the National Oil Company erred in paying “gratuity in billions” to the Chief Executive Officer, Mele Kyari and the Chief Financial Officer, Umar Ajiya.

The EFCC had requested that Kyari avail the company’s Chief Officer (Human Capital) and the Chief Financial Officer for an interview on the same day.

“They will interact with the Commission’s head of Foreign Exchange Malpractices Section on a wide range of issues connected with the alleged payment of gratuities,” the EFCC’s Director of Operations, Abdulkarim Chukkol had said on Tuesday.

“During the interview, the duo is expected to present Certified True Copies of entitlements and retirement benefits of directors and above; evidence of payments of gratuities to the Group Managing Director, Director Accounts or any other director of the company.”

Some online media platforms had claimed the inappropriateness of the disengagement of Kyari and Ajiya from the services of the old NNPC and their subsequent appointment by President Muhammadu Buhari to commence a new tenure as Group CEO and CFO in the new NNPC Limited.

Recall that the NNPCL had clarified the misrepresentation by the publications based on the provisions of Section 59(3), of the Petroleum Industry Act, which nullified previous appointments after the successful transition of the defunct NNPC to the commercially driven National Energy Company, the NNPC Limited.

HURIWA while endorsing the decision two weeks ago by the National Oil Company to institute a legal action against the publication stated that the creation of NNPC limited made clear and unambiguous provisions relating to governance, administration, and the appointment of a Chief Executive Officer, a Chief Financial Officer (CFO) and Board of Directors by the President.

The statement from HURIWA reads in part, “The PIA 2021 is deliberate about the long-term sustainability of the 20 years long petroleum industry reform that climaxed in the creation of NNPC Limited as a commercially driven National Energy Company, with focus on sustainable value creation.

“Pursuant to the provisions of the Act, appointment of the CEO and CFO of NNPC Limited by the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria is on the basis of distinct terms and conditions of Service including tenure, employment benefits and termination.

“The appointment of CEO and CFO is not a career posting as erroneously presented. Specifically, section 59(3) of the PIA 2021 has clearly stipulated the conditions to be considered in appointing the CEO and CFO of NNPC Limited without recourse to previous employment ranks in the Corporation. The previous rank of GMD or GED F&A was therefore not a consideration in the appointment of the CEO or CFO of NNPC Limited.

“Consequently, by virtue of the appointments of Mallam Mele Kyari and Mr. Umar Ajiya as NNPC Limited Group CEO and CFO respectively by Mr President for a tenure of five years each with effect from 16 September 2021 has ended their employment with the Corporation and are thus entitled to their terminal benefits in respect thereof.”

The Group expressed delight on the public display of transparency by the NNPC, adding that there is need for the Senate President, Senator Ahmed Lawan; and the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Femi Gbajabiamila to hold a special commendation session to celebrate the Mele Kyari-led management on adherence to transparency and accountability especially after the EFCC would have made public its findings.

HURIWA also stated in the statement that it will plead with the outgoing 9th session of the National Assembly to celebrate the management of the NNPC as models of transparency and accountability before the end of their tenure in June 2023.

It recalled that on January 27th, 2005, the International monetary Fund through the Deputy Managing Director, as he then was, had stated there is a nexus between open government, transparency, accountability by government officials to the rapid advancements of human rights and good governance.

HURIWA recalled that the IMF had stated in an official circular that “Transparency ensures that information is available that can be used to measure the authorities’ performance and to guard against any possible misuse of powers.

“In that sense, transparency serves to achieve accountability, which means that authorities can be held responsible for their actions.

“Without transparency and accountability, trust will be lacking between a government and those whom it governs. The result would be social instability and an environment that is less than conducive to economic growth.”

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