The Nigeria Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative has at last cleared the Petroleum Products Regulatory Agency over the audit report, which said that the PPPRA should remit N4.423 billion to the Federal Government.
The News Agency of Nigeria reports that the development has put the credibility of the audit report into question, ending the long-running face-off between NEITI and the PPPRA over the report.
At a joint reconciliatory meeting on the audit report, held in Abuja on Tuesday, NIETI conceded that the PPPRA had, indeed, no case to answer, contrary to NEITI’s earlier declaration that it stood by the controversial audit report.
The two bodies said that the alleged missing N4.423 billion had been traced to the Petroleum Support Fund account domiciled with the Central Bank of Nigeria where the PPPRA had earlier insisted that the money was domiciled.
On July 29, NEITI released its 2009-2011 audit report on the oil and gas sector, recommending that the PPPRA should remit N4.423 billion “arising from over-recovery collected to the Federation Account for the period in review”.
The report also ordered other establishments to refund various sums of money to the Federal Government.
But the PPPRA swiftly debunked the report, describing it as inaccurate and misleading, saying that “NEITI’s audit report is steeped in inaccuracies and gross misrepresentation of facts”.
In a joint statement after the meeting, signed by the Executive Secretary of NEITI, Zainab Ahmed, and the Executive Secretary of the PPPRA, Reginald Stanley, the two bodies agreed that the N4.423 billion in dispute had correctly been traced to be with the CBN.
“There is nothing outstanding against PPPRA on the said amount,” NAN quoted the communiqué as saying.
The meeting also resolved “to ensure effective communication network between the two agencies for effective inter-agency cooperation in pursuit of their mandates”.
NEITI had previously insisted that the PPPRA had a case to answer, saying that the agency had an outstanding N4.423 billion to be remitted to the Federation Account.
The Director of Communications of NEITI, Orji Ogbonnaya Orji, on August 11 told newsmen that NEITI’s audit report was “built strongly on factual data, integrity and openness”.
Orji described the reaction of the executive secretary of the PPPRA on the audit report as “strange, misplaced and unfortunate”, affirming that NEITI stood by the audit report.