The chairman, House of Representatives Committee on Petroleum Resources (Downstream), Ikeagwuonu Ugochinyere has said parliament is considering granting the Nigerian Extractive Industry Transparency Initiative (NEITI) powers to prosecute offenders in the oil and gas sector.
Ugochinyere, who said this at a parley with officials of the agency in Abuja yesterday, explained that the legislature is working on the review of NEITI Act to grant it powers to implement the findings of its investigation, and possibly execute the recommendations of their report.
The lawmaker disclosed that already 70 lawmakers had consented to co-sponsor legislative instruments to achieve that objective.
“We are considering granting NEITI powers to prosecute those found to be in breach of extant laws. We are also considering strengthening the governance structure of NEITI, placing more emphasis on crucial disclosure requirements of NEITI, especially as it relates to contract transparency and beneficial ownership.
“We are also looking at independent funding for NEITI, timely review and action on reports by the National Assembly, among others. We are also working with sister Petroleum/Oil and Gas Committees with a view to ascertaining those who operate extractive industries in Nigeria, so as to deepen transparency and public oversight of the industries through the House,” he said.
Ugochinyere further said the House is seeking to pursue the recovery of public funds that were either mismanaged, wasted or yet to be remitted from the extractive industries.
“It is also our desire to ensure that there is accountability on the part of state-owned extractive industries, so as to ensure that greater value and revenue is derived from the sector for the good of the nation and to foster a sustainable energy transition,” he added.
The deputy head of the International Secretariat of NEITI, Bady Balde stressed the need for a review of the NEITI Act 2007, to ensure that it conforms to current realities.
Also, the executive secretary of the agency, Ogbonnaya Orji said NEITI had conducted a lot of investigations, adding however that “reports are just documents except they are implemented.”