SERAP threatens Buhari with lawsuit over missing 149m barrels of crude oil

Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) has urged President Muhammadu Buhari to “set up a presidential panel of enquiry to promptly probe the grim allegations that over 149 million barrels of crude oil are missing, as documented in the 2019 audited reports by the Auditor General of the Federation and Nigeria Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (NEITI).”

The group in an open letter to Buhari said it shall take all appropriate legal actions to compel the government to comply with its request in the public interest

Over 107 million barrels of crude oil were missing without any paperwork or tracing, according to the 2019 audited report by the Auditor General. Additionally, 42.25 million barrels of crude oil were declared missing by NEITI in 2019.

In the letter dated 22 April 2023 and signed by SERAP deputy director Kolawole Oluwadare, the organisation said: “There is a legitimate public interest in ensuring justice and accountability for these very serious allegations.”

Consequently, the organisation charged President Buhari to “ensure the effective prosecution of anyone suspected to be responsible for the plundering of the country’s oil wealth and the full recovery of any proceeds of crime.”

The letter, reads in part: “SERAP notes that you have repeatedly promised to combat corruption. As you go into the final weeks of your term of office, the missing crude oil allegations present yet another opportunity to demonstrate your commitment and to uphold your oath of office both as President and Minister of Petroleum Resources

As the President and substantive Minister of Petroleum Resources, you and your government should prioritise getting to the bottom of these allegations and use the remainder of your term of office to ensure justice and accountability for these serious crimes against the Nigerian people

“Investigating the allegations and naming and shaming and prosecuting those suspected to be responsible for the missing crude oil would serve the public interest and end the impunity of perpetrators.”

“The allegations by both the Auditor-General and NEITI are different from a whistleblower’s claims that 48 million barrels of Bonny Light crude oil allegedly sold in China in 2015 are missing or unaccounted for.”

“The reports by the Auditor-General and NEITI suggest a grave violation of the Nigerian Constitution 1999 [as amended], and the country’s anticorruption laws and international obligations, as well as the public trust.”

These damning revelations also suggest your government is failing to prevent and combat the plundering of Nigeria’s wealth and natural resources, name and bring suspected perpetrators to account and recover any proceeds of crime.”

“We would be grateful if the recommended measures are taken within 7 days of the receipt and/or publication of this letter. If we have not heard from you by then, SERAP shall take all appropriate legal actions to compel your government to comply with our request in the public interest

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