The Chairman of the House of Representatives Committee on Financial Crimes, Kayode Oladele, has said that the Nigeria National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) cannot investigate itself over the latest round of allegations of fraud within its operations. The lawmaker, who represents Yewa North and Imeko/Afon Federal Constituency in Ogun State was reacting to the recent announcement by NNPC that it was launching an internal investigation into an alleged fraudulent allocation of Naphtha and Fuel oil to some companies and powerful individuals in the country.
Oladele who spoke with the media in Abuja this morning noted that it is crystal clear to Nigerians that the NNPC with the myriad of sleaze and leakages, which have robbed Nigeria of trillions of Naira particularly under the previous administration of former President Goodluck Jonathan lacks the moral authority or right to investigate and deliver a credible verdict on its own officials. Given the public perception of NNPC as an institution which permits corruption, the Corporation should rather be concerned with taking all legitimate measures to facilitate the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission’s (EFCC) work of transparently investigating and prosecuting officials found to have been involved in current scandal rather than pretending to be fighting the menace on its own.
He described the proposed NNPC’s in-house probe as pre-emptive and an attempt to underplay a very serious matter of national interest: “The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission already has a mandate to conduct investigations of this nature and should be invited to do so. The Commission has the professional capacity and wherewithal. It is wrong for any government agency to say that because it has strong reasons to believe that fraudulent activities may have taken place within its offices, that it will conduct its own probe into the matter and then hand over the culprits to the EFCC for prosecution. This is tantamount to saying you want to mark your own homework and it is not acceptable anywhere in the world”, Oladele said.
According to Oladele, matters of this nature are strictly within the purview of the EFFC which has the mandate to investigate and prosecute corruption cases. He further said that the reported internal investigation by the NNPC is not ”only against the principle of natural justice that you cannot be a judge in your own case but it is also capable of being seen by members of the public as an attempt to cover-up their own peers for the corporate interest of the senior management staff of the corporation. Also, as some of the alleged officials are still in service, their ‘investigators’ who are also current NNPC Staff, may be easily compromised. The approach by the NNPC management therefore appears like a stage-managed one, with little prospect for fairplay and credibility.”
It will be recalled that last week, the NNPC said it was going to launch an extensive operation to investigate massive alleged fraud over improper allocations of Naphtha and Fuel Oil running into billions of dollars to some companies and powerful individuals in the country. According to the report, those found culpable by the internal NNPC panel would either be asked to refund huge sums of money and or be handed over to the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) for prosecution.