SERAP Sues NNPC Over Failure To Account For Nigeria’s Daily Oil Production, Revenues Generated

Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) has filed a lawsuit against the Nigerian National Petroleum Company (NNPC) Limited over the “failure to disclose details of Nigeria’s daily oil production, exportation and the total amounts of revenues generated from oil since the removal of subsidy on petrol in May 2023.”

This was made known in a statement issued by the SERAP’s Deputy Director, Kolawole Oluwadare, on Sunday.

Sanusi Lamido Sanusi, former Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), had recently alleged that “the NNPCL is failing to remit enough foreign exchange into the treasury despite the removal of fuel subsidy,” asking: “Where is the money?”

In the suit number FHC/ABJ/CS/1719/2023 filed at the Federal High Court in Abuja, SERAP is seeking: “an order of mandamus to direct and compel the NNPC to disclose details of barrels of oil Nigeria produces and exports daily and the total amounts of revenues generated since the removal of subsidy on petrol.”

SERAP is seeking: “an order of mandamus to compel the NNPC to disclose how much of the revenues generated from the production and exportation of oil have been remitted to the public treasury since the removal of subsidy on petrol.”

The Project is also seeking: “an order of mandamus to direct and compel the NNPC to disclose details of payment of 11 Trillion Naira made as subsidy payments from 1999 to May 2023, including a detailed breakdown of the payments made.”

In the suit, SERAP is arguing that: “There is a legitimate public interest in disclosing the information sought. The NNPC has a legal responsibility to disclose the details of Nigeria’s daily oil production, exportation and the revenues generated and remitted.

“Nigerians have the right to know the amounts of barrels of oil the country produces and exports daily, the revenues generated and remitted to the public treasury. Compelling the NNPC to disclose these details would promote transparency and accountability in the oil sector.”

According to SERAP, “The failure by the NNPC to disclose the information sought is a grave violation of the provisions of the Nigerian Constitution 1999 [as amended], the Freedom of Information Act, and the country’s obligations under the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights.

“Transparency would ensure that the revenues generated from Nigeria’s daily oil production and exportation are not diverted into private pockets, and increase public confidence that the revenues would be used to benefit Nigerians.”

The suit filed on behalf of SERAP by its lawyers, Kolawole Oluwadare and Andrew Nwankwo, read in part: “Nigeria’s daily oil production, exportation and the revenues generated have been mostly shrouded in secrecy.

“Disclosing the amounts of barrels of oil the country produces and exports daily, the revenues generated and remitted to the public treasury would also ensure that the NNPC operates within the law.

“Transparency and accountability in the amounts of barrels of oil the country produces and exports daily, the revenues generated and remitted to the public treasury would improve the enjoyment by Nigerians of their right to natural wealth and resources.

“The public interest in publishing the information sought outweighs any considerations to withhold the information.

“Despite the country’s enormous oil wealth, ordinary Nigerians have derived very little benefit from oil money primarily because of widespread grand corruption, and the culture of impunity of perpetrators.

“Combating the corruption epidemic in the oil sector would alleviate poverty, improve access of Nigerians to basic public goods and services, and enhance the ability of the government to meet its human rights and anti-corruption obligations.

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“Section 15(5) of the Nigerian Constitution 1999 (as amended) requires public institutions and officials to abolish all corrupt practices and abuse of power. Section 16(2) of the Nigerian Constitution further provides that, ‘the material resources of the nation are harnessed and distributed to serve the common good.’

“Section 13 of the Nigerian Constitution 1999 imposes clear responsibility on the NNPCL to conform to, observe and apply the provisions of Chapter 2 of the constitution.

“Nigeria has made legally binding commitments under the UN Convention against Corruption and the African Union Convention on Preventing and Combating Corruption to ensure transparency and accountability in the management of public resources.

“Articles 5 and 9 of the UN Convention against Corruption also impose legal obligations on the NNPCL to ensure proper management of public affairs and public funds. These commitments ought to be fully upheld and respected.

“Nigerians are entitled to the right to receive information without any interference or distortion, and the enjoyment of this right should be based on the principle of maximum disclosure, and a presumption that all information is accessible subject only to a narrow system of exceptions.

“By Section 1 (1) of the Freedom of Information (FoI) Act 2011, SERAP is entitled as of right to request for or gain access to information, including information on the details of barrels of oil Nigeria produces and exports every day and the total amounts of revenues generated and remitted to the public treasury.”

“The Freedom of Information Act, Section 39 of the Nigerian Constitution, and article 9 of the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights guarantee to everyone the right to information, including the details of Nigeria’s daily oil production, exportation and the total amounts of revenues generated and remitted to the public treasury.

“By the combined reading of the provisions of the Nigerian Constitution, the Freedom of Information Act and the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights, there are transparency obligations imposed on the NNPCL to publish the details sought.

“The Nigerian Constitution, Freedom of Information Act, and the country’s anti-corruption and human rights obligations rest on the principle that citizens should have access to information regarding their public institutions’ activities.

“The NNPCL has failed to disclose the amounts of barrels of oil the country produces and exports. The NNPCL has also reportedly failed to publish details of revenues generated from the production and exportation of oil and the amounts of revenues remitted to the public treasury as required by Nigerian laws.

“According to the former Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Sanusi Lamido Sanusi, ‘It is only the NNPCL that can give the figures about how much oil we produce daily, how much we sell, and where the money is going. We are no longer paying subsidies so where are the dollars? Where is the money?’

“The NNPCL has a legal responsibility to promote transparency and accountability in the country’s daily oil production, exportation and the revenues generated and remitted to the public treasury. The NNPLC also has a legal responsibility to disclose details of payment of N11 trillion subsidy.”

Meanwhile, no date has been fixed for the hearing of the suit.