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Buhari To Be Sued As Substantive Petroleum Minister Over ‘Missing 149 Million Barrels Of Crude Oil’

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The Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) has threatened to commence a lawsuit against President Muhammadu Buhari if he fails to probe the ‘149 million barrels of crude oil allegedly missing’.

The organisation asked 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)”.

In a statement issued on Sunday by its Deputy Director, Kolawole Oluwadare, SERAP also urged the President 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”.

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According to the 2019 audited report by the Auditor General, over 107 million barrels of crude oil were lifted as domestic crude without any document or tracing. NEITI also reported missing 42.25 million barrels of crude oil in 2019.

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

It noted that “the recommended steps can be taken between now and the end of your (Buhari’s) term of office to set the tone for the next administration”.

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The letter read 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.

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“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.

“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.

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“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.”

(Sahara Reporters)

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