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Whistleblowing: Group takes NNPC, external auditors to court, asks recovery of N29.3 trillion, seeks halt to winding down of NAPIMS

  • Claims defendants’ use NAPIMS to defraud Nigeria
  • Insist NNPC connive with external auditors to fleece FG revenue

A Non-Government Organisation (NGO), Reality Advocacy Against Corruption (RAAC), along with its 13 associates have approached the Federal High Court seeking to recover over N29.3 trillion from the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC).

RAAC claimed that NNPC stole between 2019 and 2020.

The NGO said NNPC, through the mind-blowing financial transactions, has been using transactions at the National Petroleum Investment Management Services (NAPIMS), one of its subsidiaries, to dupe the country of a humongous amount of money, through phoney and hidden deals.

They are therefore asking the court to give an order for the NNPC not only to remit the said stolen money back to the Federation Account, but to prevent NNPC from transmitting the assets, interests and liabilities of NAPIMS to the newly created “Nigerian National Petroleum Company Limited in line with section 54 of the Petroleum Industry Act, 2021 LFN or such other laws, pending the full declaration of the assets, liabilities and interests of its subsidiary companies through the Group Audited Financial Statements.”

Other plaintiffs, in the suit filed on 7th October, 2021 aside from the Registered Trustees of RAAC include: First Synergy Resources Ltd, NUBIA Tigris Ltd, Golden Dreams Nig Enterprises Ltd, Sanusi Mamman Muri, Fidelis Uzonwanne and Adewale Aremu Olaiya.Others are: Mr. Ozioma Ezeogu, Mr. Simon Garba Eluma, Alhaji Aliyu Idris, Mr. Charles Okoli, Michael Adinoyi Bello Esq, Idris Waziri Esq and Kingsley Fred Perobo.

Listed as plaintiffs in the suit filed by Edwin Agbu, Mike Bello and Amarachi Osuji of Bluewhales and Company, counsel to the plaintiffs, are eight defendants including: the NNPC, Federal Government of Nigeria, Attorney-General and Minister of Justice (AGF), and Federal Ministry of Finance.

Others are: Directors of Auditing Firms which included – Pedro Omontuemhen (trading in the name and style of PRICEWATERHOUSECOOPERS), Abel Atalor (Muhtari Dangana & Co), Ismaila Zakari (Ahmed Zakari & Co) and Robert Odiachi (SIAO Partners).

RAAC in the suit number FHC/ABJ/CS/1202/2021, claimed that the alleged fraudulent financial transactions occurred between 2019 and 2020.

They also alleged that NNPC in concert with the auditing firms “fraudulently concealed trillions of Naira meant for the Federation Account by producing two different audited financial statements with one in the name of NAPIMS showing accumulated confirmed profits, while another in the name of NNPC showed loss of monies in Naira, Dollars.”

They also claimed that NNPC fraudulently manipulated NAPIMS accounts through payment of spurious taxes, payment of “dividends” to unknown persons, duplicated costs and auditing fees, and in the process had all along projected the NNPC as all along operating with losses whereas it was making profits. 

In the endorsement to be made on the writ, they claimed that the NNPC and the firm of auditors have “continued with the frauds in the audited financial statements of NAPIMS and that of the NNPC by concealing retained earnings by over-bloating costs; concealing retained earnings; paying secret dividends and making inflated payments and duplicating costs as fees to the auditors” all of which the plaintiffs said they will prove relying on bank statements and documents officially published by the NNPC. 

They also claimed in the suit that NNPC “fraudulently treated Joint Venture Cash Call Payments as Joint Venture Costs Recovery for Capital Expenditure when such should be profit for the Federation.”

They listed part of the stolen money as including NAPIMS confimed profits of the sum of N7.45 trillion; a loss of N1.53 trillion as NNPC loses; fraudulent tax payment amounting to $14.5 billion by NAPIMS; $25.8 billion ascribed to payment of ‘dividends’ by NAPIMS to unknown pereons; $13 billion being value of National Oil Assets (Oil Block) unlawfully transferred to NNPC/NAPIMS instead of to the Federation Account; $5.1 billion duplicated costs in both NNPC and NAPIMS Audited Financial statements, in addition to several billions of Naira alleged to have been paid to the auditors “for auditing NAPIMS when in fact (according to the plaintiffs) NAPIMS is not a company known to law.”

The plaintiffs further filed nine-paragraph statement, as well as nine orders/declarations they asked the court to grant against the defendants.

In the 86 paragraphs statements of claim in support of the suit, RAAC asked for a refund of all identified fraud against the federal government which it said should be paid into the Federation Account before the full implementation of the Petroleum Industry Act which is to be proceeded by the winding down of NNPC and agencies under it and in the oil industry.

They insist that if the court fails to give the order as requested, NNPC will “wipe off” the identified fraudulent activities with the wiping off of all the transactions of the NNPC and its subsidiaries and allied companies in substitution of the companies recognised in the PIA.

In addition, the plaintiff asked for “an order of court mandating the NNPC to produce and publish the audited financial statements of its subsidiaries, or such other subsidiaries omitted from its Group Audited Financial Statements 31/12/20 ended, for official national public consumption and/or information. 

“An order of court restraining the NNPC from transmitting its assets, liabilities, interests etc to NNPC Ltd in line with section 54 of the PIA Act 2021 LFN or such other laws, pending the full declaration of the assets, liabilities and interests of its subsidiary companies through the Group Audited Financial Statements.”

They exhibited published financial statements of accounts of NNPC and NAPIMS covering the 10-year period covered by the suit and insisted they will rely on all of them to prove their case, following which they should be paid five percent as whistleblowers costs.

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