$6.4bn Debts: NEITI Moves to Prosecute Defaulting IOCs

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Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (NEITI) has said that it is closing in on International Oil Companies (IOCs) owing various lending entities in the country’s financial system.

The five IOCs currently operating in include, the SPDC, TotalEnergies, Chevron, ExxonMobil and Eni. The listed IOCs are responsible for 45% of Nigeria’s oil production and 40% of gas.

NEITI sources said while some of the companies are co-operating the agency. The agency told defaulting firms that it would not hesitate to activate its agreements with anti-corruption agencies in recovering the outstanding oil companies’ debts to the Federation Account.

NEITI’s executive secretary, Ogbonnaya Orji disclosed this at an anti-corruption event in Abuja last weekend, noting that the outstanding debts have accumulated to about $6.4bn.

Orji, who was represented by the Director of Technical, NEITI, Dieter Bassi, however, stated that a large portion of the amount had been paid by defaulting companies.

The NEITI boss warned other oil firms that had failed to remit the outstanding fund that the agency would instigate action against them if they refuse to comply.

“All the companies who still doubt our resolve to sustain this drive, we will not hesitate to activate our standing agreements with relevant anti-corruption agencies to recover the funds,” Orji stated.

He said those entrusted with public funds must convert the funds to their personal use, stressing that there must be transparency in the use of such resources.

“We need fiscal transparency to ensure that public funds are used for the purpose for which they are meant. We need ownership transparency to ensure that those entrusted with public resources do not themselves become the principal beneficiaries of these resources.

“We also need ownership transparency to ensure that when public resources are stolen, we are able to and recover them,” he said.

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