Former chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) Mallam Nuhu Ribadu has said that the Petroleum Products Pricing Regulatory Agency (PPPRA) should be held responsible for the subsidy fraud saga.
Ribadu, who is also the chairman, Petroleum Revenue Special Task Force, set up by the federal government to verify all petroleum revenue taxes, royalties, etc, due and payable to government, maintained that the failure of the PPPRA to thoroughly do their job as a regulator resulted in the subsidy fraud. About N2.6 trillion was allegedly stolen.
The former Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN) presidential flag-bearer stated this while speaking at the Distinguished Visitors programme organised by the Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission (NERC) in Abuja yesterday. He maintained that a confident and responsible regulatory agency can achieve great results while a corruption-ridden agency is very likely to fail.
He said: “Subsidy fraud is a failure of the regulator. If the PPPRA did their job well, we won’t be in this position. Nobody can steal a penny from government if those agencies do not allow them. Most failed sectors of the economy are as a result of the failure of the regulatory agency to thoroughly do their job.’’
Ribadu explained: “Because it is government money, when it goes out it has to go through somebody who is a government employee who is given responsibility to protect it and make sure that we get value for it. It must be with his own conspiracy that money can go out and we would want to see justice done to those who allow our money to go out.
“If I was to handle this subsidy probe I would just catch PPPRA. I would bring out each one of them and in one week, I would get the people responsible because the gate-keeper is the one in charge. I would just get them because nobody will make one penny from the subsidy unless PPPRA allows it.’’
Addressing NERC’s chairman, Dr. Sam Amadi, Ribadu said: “If you don’t go out of your way to ensure that your staff are not lobbied by interest groups or stakeholders, you are not likely to succeed. As a responsible regulator, you must reach out and find a way to find solutions to the challenges confronting you.
“You need to work hard in building professionalism. It is critical. You must have people who are more knowledgeable than the people you regulate. It matters for you to prepare your people for this amazing responsibility that is ahead.You can change the problems of electricity in this country if you get it very right.’’
On the seeming delay by the EFCC to prosecute the subsidy thieves, he said: ‘’I know the EFCC is doing very well on that and I believe that they would not disappoint Nigerians. Sometimes, this work does take time for you to do a thorough job that would be able to stand the test of prosecution. You must work in a way that you would assemble evidence that would be able to go through a successful prosecution because it’s an issue of law enforcement and also recovery.’’
Asked when the report of the Petroleum Revenue Task Force would be ready for presentation, he said: “We are about to finish and conclude. It’s a little bit difficult for me to be very definite because of the nature of the work, but, give or take, in the next couple of weeks.’’
He explained that he accepted to head the taskforce because, as a Nigerian, he owes it to his country to do the right thing. ‘’I am not a PDP member, I am not a part of this government, but I want to do it for Nigerians,’’ Ribadu said.
Efforts by LEADERSHIP to get the response of the PPPRA on the issue were unsuccessful as the executive secretary of the agency, Mr. Reginald Stanley, failed to comment.
After calls put across to his phone were unanswered, he sent an SMS saying he was at a meeting and asked our correspondent to send him an SMS.
But the SMS sent to him on the subject matter requesting his response was not replied to as at press time.
Reps uncover $329.4m inflated insurance premium, unpaid claims in NNPC
Meanwhile, the House of Representatives Committee on Finance yesterday summoned the management of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) in relation to over $329.4 million insurance premium and claims allegedly inflated by some insurance companies contracted to insure the state-run corporation.
The lower house finance committee is also probing unpaid insurance claims worth $12 million due to the Corporation between 2007 and 2011.
The Abdulmumin Jibrin-led committee issued the summons during the second day of the ongoing investigative public hearing on the insurance of government assets and property.
In separate presentations, official documents released by the Office of the Head of Civil Service of the Federation (OHCSF) to the lower house committee disclosed payment of N7,130,941,041.56 death claims between 2008 and 2011.
The documents obtained by LEADERSHIP also showed the payment of N12,582,293,787.55 premium to 19 appointed insurance companies (underwriters) in 2011 for group life assurance scheme for all the federal civil servants.
A further breakdown states: from a N5 billion take-off grant released by the federal government for group life assurance for civil servants in 2008, N4 billion was paid to insurance companies while N1 billion was spent on payment of backlog death claims to 742 late civil servants.
N1,675,976,061.27 was also paid as backlog death claims for dependants of 722 officers in 2010; N1.9 billion backlog death claims paid in 2011 while N3,600,973,485.71 death claims have been processed and are awaiting payment.
On the insurance of government assets and property, the OHCSF paid N8,597,478,354.54 to appointed insurance companies from 2008 to 2010; N12,582,293,787.55 was paid in 2011 as insurance cover for all employees.
The federal government also paid N10.787 billion in 2004 as insurance cover for the Federal Secretariat Complex, phases A, B, C.
N9.776 million insurance claim was paid through the OHCSF to the federation account being insurance claims for the fire outbreak that gutted phase III occupied by the National Assembly Service Commission in November 2006.
A Nigeria Police insurance report at the investigative hearing presented by assistant police commissioner Yusuf Adejo disclosed that its insurance companies have accepted liability of N333,212,500 on the helicopter No. 5N-POL which crashed in Plateau State recently.