Category: Transparency and Accountability

Everything about government transparency, accountability and open government related issues

Third Quarter 2021 CODE/FTM report 

Communications March 1, 2022 0

The third quarter of 2021 was in furtherance of CODEs strategic plan. On the journey towards taking hold of governance processes and seeking more accountable systems, we made advancement in education, health, energy, governance sectors through various projects championed by vibrant youths who believe in an inclusive Nigeria for all by creating feedback loops between the people and the government and strengthening systems and communities along the way.

READ FULL REPORT HERE

Second Quarter 2021 Follow The Money Report

Communications March 1, 2022 0

In the first half, We recorded significant results from hosting an audacious COVID Transparency and Accountability Conference to kicking off the tracking of N1.1Bn Kaduna Constituency Projects, to advocating better living standards for residents in Oil-producing states, and working with State Governments to demand an end to GBV. We began this second half of the year on the bedrock of enhancing citizens’ engagement, building partnerships and collaborating with institutions who share in our vision to accelerate timely intervention for marginalised groups.

READ FULL REPORT HERE

 First Quarter 2021 Follow The Money Report

Communications March 1, 2022 0

We kick started the year ready to evolve and expand our work across more African countries, reaching more marginalized communities with the message of Follow The Money. To officially launch the programs and campaigns for the year, we engaged our HQ staff as it is the norm in a 3 days strategic and planning meeting in order to reinforce the organisational goals, build synergy across departments and map out deliverables and engagement strategies for our cohort of volunteers and champions.

READ FULL REPORT HERE

CODE signs MOU with NPHCDA to strengthen health sector accountability

Communications March 1, 2022 0

The National Primary Health Care Development Agency (NPHCDA) and Nigeria’s leading civil society organization, Connected Development (CODE) have signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) to strengthen and foster health sector accountability in Nigeria. 

The MOU is a vital step towards enabling CODE to further expands its tracking and evaluation of Primary Healthcare Centres (PHCs) across the country, to inform its advocacy in canvassing for improved primary healthcare infrastructure and service delivery.

READ FULL DOCUMENT

Follow The Money Convening Across 6 Geopolitical Zones in Nigeria

Communications May 31, 2021 0

Follow The Money is strategically decentralizing its operational structures to allow zonal champions to own the vision and encourage massive volunteer recruitment at the community level. To achieve this, the management of CODE organized a one day “zonal convening” for its FTM state leads in the 6 geo-political zones in Nigeria.

The sessions were designed to review challenges of lack of access to information and other issues that are peculiar to each region, compile success stories and develop strategic plans. These are efforts to strengthen the capacity of regional/state leads and FTM champions to be able to drive the vision of the initiative and achieve needed results with focus on FTM’s Theory of Change. 

CODE’s Community Engagement Officer, takes a session on budget tracking.

The Capacity-building session with CODE’s Community Engagement Director, Busayo Morakinyo, set the tone for understanding CODE’s value and service delivery to her constituencies. “One of the goals of the organization is to strengthen the capacity of her state and local champions and help them grow to be able to demand transparency and accountability from the government.” Mr Morakinyo also emphasised the importance of participatory community mobilization and facilitating information sharing through community champions.

Cross-section of participants in the South-East

Topics on government data-mining, budget reviews and policy formulations were also discussed. The need for strong collaboration and partnership with community-based associations, youth groups, and community leaders using advocacy, to strengthen community engagement.

Participants also learnt about funding, idea generation, using social media as an advocacy tool to drive change and mobilising citizens.

Getting Children Back to Classroom: The ‘Follow The Money’ Success in Kaduna State

Communications May 10, 2021 0

By Shakir Akorede

It’s no more news—one in every five of the world’s out-of-school children is in Nigeria.

If that is appalling, generally speaking, the case of the northern part of the country is even scarier. In northern Nigeria, Only 61% of 6–11 year-olds regularly attend primary school, while only 35.6% of children aged 36–59 months receive early childhood education, as revealed by the United Nations International Children’s Emergency Fund (UNICEF).

Nigeria’s education crisis is blamed on many factors most commonly economic barriers, ill socio-cultural practices and, recently, security challenges. But one prime factor is often ignored—corruption. According to Transparency International, more than half of Nigeria’s education budget is lost to corruption. Sadly, this robs the sector of resources needed to get poor children in urban and rural communities in school so they have equal access to education.

Although Nigeria is known for its low education budget, corruption is yet responsible for poor funding and thus abysmal infrastructures, inadequacy of classrooms and quality teachers as well as poor learning environment—all which contribute to Nigeria’s 10.5 million out-of-school children.

Arguably, war against corruption in the education sector seems the most vital step to reverse the dangerous trend.

This explains why Follow The Money, supported by the MacArthur Foundation, deployed its advocacy and project monitoring arsenal to ensure the delivery of $1.5 million (570 million Naira) in education infrastructure across four local governments in Kaduna State, playing a tripartite role: community engagement, project tracking and assurance of quality service delivery, and taking pupils off the street.

“Our work was important in Kaduna State because the state had signed up on the Open Government Partnership (OGP) – the first Nigerian state to do so,” said Hamzat Lawal, founder and CEO of Follow The Money. However, being an OGP member isn’t a silver bullet to good governance and accountability. “For democracy to really work in Nigeria, we must take citizen engagement very seriously,” added Hamzat.

And that proves to be true. “Before the coming of Follow The Money, the community was in the dark. We didn’t know what the government was doing to us,” Yohanna Zuberu, a community member in Jema’a, opens up in a documentary. His assertion would be affirmed by an official of the Kaduna State Universal Basic Education Board (SUBEB). “There’s been a gap in the interaction with the community members,” the official, Mubarak Muhammed, said, adding however, “With the constant advocacy by Follow The Money, we are able to say that community members are more aware of what is happening around them. There’s this renewed effort to ensure that for every new project we must inform the people of what is to come and what the expectations should be.”

As of January 2020, Follow The Money’s civic action in Kaduna has facilitated the construction and rehabilitation of 23 primary schools in the four local governments of Jema’a, Kajuru, Kudan, and Zangon Kataf, with an impressive enrollment of over 200,000 children in those schools and other existing ones.

Interestingly, this effort would trigger unexpected results in Kaduna State. By September 2019, the State Universal Basic Education Board (SUBEB) had launched an extensive campaign, going far beyond the four local governments, to enrol 145,000 children in school. In a news report, the board’s Social Mobilisation Acting Director, Ibrahim Aminu said that the policy was targeted at all categories of out-of-school children with the aim to enrol 727,764 out-of-school children in the next five years.

Making the Impossible Possible

Children education is one of the most intractable social challenges in Northern Nigeria. No surprise Follow The Money is seen to be moving mountains.

“The strategy used in Kaduna to decrease the number of out-of-school children was to get the community members and the educational sector to work together. First we created School Monitoring Teams (SMTs) teams, which is a mixture of all the community governance structures to be able to track the implementation of school projects across board” explains Kingsley Agu, Follow The Money project officer.

Expatiating on that model, Hamzat Lawal notes, “Follow The Money bottom-up and top-bottom approach is taking data needs assessment from the community input, putting it into government development plans and taking government commitment down to the people to collect feedback.” On the Kaduna education project, he adds with stern commitment on his face, “Follow The Money would help ensure the acceleration and implementation of this important policy commitment from the government, creating an environment where citizens can give feedback and where they can hold their government to account on public expenditure.”

On rebuilding primary education infrastructure in Kaduna State, Follow the Money is not only strengthening accountability and delivery of public goods to the most vulnerable section of the society, it is improving access to education, creating new hopes for a better future.

“We have recorded a considerable amount of success in project implementation, especially in terms of transparency. Gone are the days where projects are being awarded and not being delivered even when monies have been paid,” a SUBEB official says.

Creating a More Inclusive Community through Sustainable Sanitation in Delta State

Communications December 2, 2020 0

By Blessing Uwisike

Delta state, like neighbouring states in the Niger- Delta riverine region, has had more than its fair share of contention with one of its most contumacious problems: Open Defecation (OD) due to lack of toilets and poor access to clean water. Unfortunately the state government has followed the steps of its predecessors by assuring prompt actions to address the situation, but slow to back up its promises with sustainable solutions.

Governor Ifeanyi Okowa of Delta State

In 2019, Governor Ifeanyi Okowa inaugurated the Steering Committee for the Water Supply, Sanitation & Hygiene and passed the State WASH bill to law, but the State WASH System has recorded slow progress in implementing the policies entrenched in the law. Despite an acknowledgement of the deplorable condition of WASH facilities in Delta state by the Deputy Speaker of the State House of Assembly, Hon. Ochor Chris Ochor, no significant step has been taken to improve the quality of access to clean water for thelife of residents in Delta State, especially the rural areas.

A 2018 Water, Sanitation and Hygiene National Outcome Routine Mapping (WASHNORM) data provided by the United Nations reveals that 68 percent of the Nigerian population have access to basic water supply, and progress towards achievement of universal and equitable access to this water supply has been slow. Only 19 per cent of the national population use safely managed sanitation services, 24 per cent are still practicing OD in Nigeria and 30 per cent in rural areas. The minimal access to clean water, Open Defecation and consequently poor hygiene causes diarrhoea that kills children yearly and puts women at precarious health risks.

On the 5th of February 2020, the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID)  signed a $60.4 million Memorandum of Understanding with Governor Ifeanyi Okowa of Delta State to improve the management and delivery of Effective Water, Sanitation, and Hygiene Services” (E-WASH) services to help residents live healthier lives through reliable access to clean water. The project, closely supervised by Connected Development (CODE), a social accountability Non Governmental organisation will ensure access to clean water and reduce water borne diseases by “strengthening their Water Boards’ capacity to make solid investment decisions, improve billing and collection systems, and ensure greater responsiveness to customer concerns.” (Culled from the US Embassy to Nigeria website).

This partnership is critical as the geographical terrain of the Niger- Delta consists of creeks, rivers and large water bodies. The people of the Niger- Delta and Delta State particularly have built their lives around their physical environment; engaging in commercial activities like fishing; accessing water for household use from the river, and defecating in the same water with hopes that the river carries the faeces away. This thought pattern is quite excusable as the education levels are low with 65% having achieved at most primary education, and income levels correspondingly low.  It is estimated that between 50 and 65% live below the poverty level. The complex social environment which has toilet spaces hanging directly above water bodies so that the fecal waste is emptied directly into the river has facilitated an unusually high rate of Open Defecation leading to extreme environmental degradation. Residents who can afford functional water closets are not entirely free from these challenges as the high water level and frequent flooding have the tendency to contaminate their supposedly clean water, making it good enough for only flushing.

Women, Girls, Children and Disabled people are the worst hit when hygiene is not prioritised. Children are exposed to diarrhoea due to unsafe water, while girls and women are not able to fully carry out their daily activities (being in school and going to the workplace especially), as they are forced to stay only in locations where they are most comfortable during their periods, this is usually the home. The disabled are also stuck while trying to use public toilet facilities that were not created with consideration for them.

Addressing the Problem of poor Hygiene through Improved Sanitation Measures and Accountability

Every reform must start from the top, and then cascaded to the people at the grassroot; in the same light, the onus is on the government to put effective measures in place that ensures the availability of functional and clean public toilets, potable water, and hygiene education of its citizens. State WASH apparatus, Rural Water and Sanitation Supply Agency (RUWASSA), LGA WASH departments and units, and community Water Supply, Sanitation And Hygiene Committee (WASHCOMs) must be clearly established and work towards one goal – To sustain better access to Water Supply, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH). 

To show the government’s commitment to partner with the citizens, Community Led Total Sanitation must be prioritised. While this sanitation strategy is broadly used in Nigeria, strengthening it will enable the system to yield maximum dividends. Trained WASH specialists should also be tasked with the coordination of educating communities and capacity-building in the most prone regions, with the purpose of driving behavioural change and  hygiene consciousness. Educating members of the community (especially riverine areas) on the dangers of open defecation; and supporting them with adequate facilities and knowledge sharing that encourages them to take the maintenance of the public toilets as their personal responsibility will not only promote the well being of the people, it fosters unity and cooperation among them.

Directly engaging policy makers and stakeholders like USAID and UNICEF and updating civil society organizations (CSOs) like CODE, which is currently tracking the eradication of Open Defecation in Delta State, on the progress recorded on the use of allocated funds will ensure that funds released to tackle poor hygiene are well disbursed. 

Prioritising young girls women, children and the disabled while restructuring plans are drafted will address gender parity, increase income opportunities for women, contribute to the overall well being of the family, ensure a progressive girls education, and make for an inclusive society.

Advancing Economic Governance and Accountability in Northern Nigeria

Communications September 15, 2020 0

In October 2017, CODE commenced tracking government and international aid spending in Northern Nigeria, with particular focus on first-mile healthcare delivery and infrastructural provision for universal basic education.

We were on a mission to advance economic governance and promote transparency and accountability at State and Local levels in Nigeria. Our team empowered 84 communities in Yobe, Kano, Plateau, Borno, Kaduna and Adamawa states with information, data and knowledge to engage their elected government representatives on funds earmarked for capital projects in their communities. At the end of the project duration, we had tracked NGN 523,743,810 (USD 1,454,843.92) and impacted 1,276,780 people.

To ensure community ownership of the Follow The Money model, we organised community gatherings in Yobe, Adamawa, Borno, Plateau and Kano States, hosting community leaders, CBOs, religious leaders, SBMCs and PTA members, women leaders, youth leaders, other local groups, and local media organizations from an estimated 40 communities across the 5 states respectively. Over the course of the project cycle, we discovered a large vacuum in information sharing by the government, low compliance to the Freedom of Information Act, non-inclusion of community governance structures in project implementation, discrepancies across project sites and low citizens participation in governance processes.

Download full report here

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Virtual Conference on Rebuilding Trust in Institutions

Communications August 3, 2020 0

Event Focus:

The picture of basic public service for the average person in Nigeria is bleak.

Every year, the Nigerian government budgets millions of naira on constituency projects, yet there is little to show for the improvement of public service delivery. A large portion of the budget (which funds sectors like healthcare, education, youth employment, etc) is believed to be syphoned by corrupt government officials, creating a huge trust gap and leading to citizens apathy. How taxpayer’s naira is actually being spent is a large mystery. The average citizen has very little visibility into where taxpayer money is going.

This situation has prompted a new look at the role of trust, as well as its relationship with governance and ways of restoring and rebuilding trust in different contexts.

Trust is the mechanism that makes society thrive. Nigeria’s institutions are suffering from a sharp decline in public trust. In times of disconnect and distrust between citizens and governments, the importance of trust is only increasing. But can we truly reach it? How can governments interact better with their constituents?

The event sparked deeper conversations about the culture of mistrust in the Nigerian system built over decades and began a conversation on charting a way forward to rebuilding trust in government institutions.

Speakers:

  • Deputy Governor of Kaduna State, Dr. Hadiza Balarabe
  • Senior Program Officer, MacArthur Foundation, Dr. Amina Salihu
  • Board Member, Ministry of Finance, Dr. Joe Abba
  • Investigative Journalist, Mr Fisayo Soyombo
  • CODE’s Chief Executive, Mallam Hamzat Lawal.

The Webinar was moderated by Kevwe Oghide, CODE’s Communications Lead (CODE).

Quotes from Speakers:

Dr Hadiza Balarabe: (the role of Government)

The issue of trust in public institutions is not peculiar to Nigeria alone as many countries around the world are also under pressure to meet rising citizens expectations. She however stated that the Kaduna Government has rebuilt trust by providing functioning primary healthcare centres, laying-off incompetent teachers and revamping the education system in the State. She noted that signing up with the Open Government Partnership has also fostered the state’s culture of transparency and accountability.

Dr Balarabe noted that trust has been rebuilt because young people are at the fore-front of industrialisation in Kaduna State and they have been delivering enormously for the State. Adding that because of the level of trust built, Kaduna has attracted over $500,000 in investment. Kaduna also publishes her annual audit report yearly, organises town hall meetings to get feedback from the people.

The impression that citizens have of government officials keeping public funds for themselves is quite unfortunate. In Kaduna, we are trying to dispel this misconception by reforming the public sector, and entrencingh merit in our recruitment process of public officials.

“We will continue to restore confidence and rebuild this trust in our people by committing to being reliable, responsive, transparent and having better regulations.

Dr Amina Salihu (on the role of Civil Society)

Trust is earned as a result of being accountable, responsive and capable and civil society organisations are strategic pathfinders who need to enable citizens to recognise their right to access basic needs and improved public services and how they can use their voice and actions to drive change.

On the role of citizens; Citizens have a role to play by not being cynical when actual progress is being made, paying attention to politics, participating, rejigging our federalism and changing the electoral system. “We need to give a lot more chances to women and expand the space to change how Government is structured.

Dr Joe Abah (on the role of citizens and other issues):

The decline in trust is traceable to a number of things and reasons, and issues like the current corruption allegations in NDDC awarding billions to themselves in so called COVID- palliatives will continue to dispel public trust.

He opined that leaders must take initiative, rise to the occasion of responsibility and show examples for people to start believing in the system, stressing that there is the need for public officials to openly declare their assets.

Government constantly going against its laws and policies is a breach of trust. For example; the recovered funds from Abacha loots were shared without a clear identification database where citizens can see how it was being shared.. What’s worse is that it was shared in cash which goes against the government’s rules on cashless banking.

On the role of the citizens in building trust,; “You can only rebuild trust by trusting, it is important for citizens to hold the government accountable and monitor them. Even if you don’t trust the government, we need to continue to engage and also put in mechanisms to make it difficult for people to breach trust”.  

Mr Fisayo Soyombo: On the role of the media

Although the media has a huge responsibility to play, the Government has the bulk of the job. He added  that people who want trust have to earn it.

Most of the things that we consume as news are actually PR. This shows that journalists are being manipulated especially because they are not well paid. Government must be responsible for providing better governance, the media must ensure that public institutions are not deceiving citizens by engaging more investigative reporting. While stressing the need for more investigative reporting, he called on the public to support good journalism especially with funding. “If we want a media that is more alive, people have to support good journalism.” He also encouraged journalists to be objective in their reports.

He noted that we need a value-reorientation in this country.

Hamzat Lawal, Chief Executive, Connected Development:

In 2019, what we learnt engaging government MDAs post elections informed our overall objective at Connected Development (CODE), which was to begin a campaign that was intended to increase trust among citizens and government. CODE’s strategy was to create platforms for informed debate between public institutions and citizens and also advocate for more government agencies to leverage digital communications to foster trust, increase transparency and ensure better accountability. This has led us to organise this conference that seeks to increase conversations and raise citizens and government’s consciousness towards rebuilding trust.

Kevwe Oghide, Moderators Conclusion based on Deliberation:

Building Stronger institutions ultimately increases trust and When trust is higher, behaviours become more constructive; people are more willing to cooperate and support government’s initiatives.

 We therefore need to consider how development goals can be achieved when systems work and faith in institutions increases. There is a role for everyone in rebuilding trust and we hope that this conversation can snowball into bigger discussions in smaller or larger groups so people can consciously think about trust – in their interactions with the society and their role in building it, trust is key.

 It may not be a total cure; transparent and accountable governance offers a glimmer of hope against the flood of public mistrust. Constant communication has the possibility of opening public institutions to greater public understanding and appreciation.

The Federal Republic of Malabu

Communications May 24, 2020 0

The Federal Republic of Malabu

Charles E. Uche

Once Upon a Time… 

The scandal that surrounded the award of the OPL 245 to Malabu Oil & Gas Limited continues to have a negative impact on Nigeria 22 years after its occurrence. This outrageous breach of law and fiduciary duty has been brought to international limelight – before the comity of nations – where it has further marred Nigeria’s reputation as a nation where corruption is championed from the highest political offices. This has led to a financial downfall and a near unsalvable reputational disaster which affects Nigeria’s GDP and its ability to attract foreign direct/portfolio investment. The impact doesn’t just end there and like any other corrupt practice, it has a significant effect on the standard of living and welfare of the masses. Below is an abridged timeline of “events”:

1998: On April 24, 1998, an oil company by the name Malabu Oil and Gas Limited was incorporated. This company had no legitimate place of business; no employee nor asset.

Just 5 days later, on April 29th, this company was awarded a lucrative Oil Prospecting License ‘OPL 245’ – to one of the most lucrative oil fields in Niger Delta, estimated to have about nine billion barrels of crude oil, and worth about half a trillion dollars.

This grant of license was made without a bidding process; without a formal application process “stating willingness to comply with provisions and conditions that will be imposed, and giving information about the proposed methods of developing the block” pursuant to the Petroleum Act of 1969; and without the full payment of a signature bonus fee of $20 million to be made within 30 days of the grant.

How much was actually paid by Malabu?

$2 million (out of the required $20 million).

What is a Signature Bonus?

A signature bonus is a one-time fee for the assignment and securing of a license, paid irrespective of economic success for the contractor or licensee.

How was this Possible and who were the True/Beneficial Owners of this Faux Company?

Malabu Oil and Gas Limited was (caused to be) incorporated by Chief Dauzia ‘Dan’ Loya Etete “Dan Etete“, the then Minister of Petroleum Resources under the then Head of State, Gen. Sani Abacha, using a false identity so as to award himself (since he has the power to award licenses) and his cronies.

Etete’s Cronies: the owners of this faux company included; Mohammed Sani (alias for Mohammed Abacha, son of the then Head of State, General Sani Abacha); Kweku Amafegha (a fictional character created by Dan Etete, the then Minister of Petroleum Resources, responsible for the award of the license; and Wabi Hassan (wife of Hassan Adamu, a close friend of General Sani Abacha and one time Nigeria’s ambassador to the United States of America). Etete himself was neither listed as a director nor shareholder of the company. He, however, used nominees and had beneficial and ultimate ownership and control of the company.

Who is a Beneficial Owner?

  • A person who holds, directly or indirectly, more than 25% of the shares or voting rights in the company; or has the right to appoint or remove a majority of the company’s board of directors.
  • A person who takes all or most of the returns of a property’s equity or monetary gains.

2001: In 2001, Malabu conceded 40% participation interest to Shell on the agreement that Shell would pay the Federal Government the outstanding $18 million. That same year, Malabu’s license was revoked and was awarded to Shell after a bidding process.

2002: Subsequently, in 2002, Malabu petitioned the house of representatives which then conducted a public hearing into the transaction and concluded that the revocation of the block from Malabu and reallocation to Shell was done mala fide (in bad faith) and declared it null and void.

2003: The House of Representatives, therefore, passed a resolution in 2003 that the block should be returned to Malabu. The Federal Government did not comply with the resolution of the green chamber.

2006: Malabu went to court and there was a series of litigation between Malabu and the government until sometime in 2006 when they entered into an out-of-court settlement which was subsequently reduced to a consent judgment of the federal high court, Abuja. As a result of the agreement and all the conditions set out to be met by all parties, Edmund Daukoru, who was then the minister of state for petroleum resources, wrote on behalf of the federal government, and on behalf of Obasanjo to convey the decision to return the block 100% to Malabu in accordance with the terms of settlement.

It was part of the terms of settlement that Malabu would pay to the Federal Government within 12 months $210 million less the $2.04 million already paid. This was not done. Furthermore, the then Attorney General of the Federation, Bayo Ojo, was actively involved in the negotiations and settlement. It is alleged that the terms of settlement were reached by corrupt means.

2011: After series of negotiations between Shell/Eni and Etete through Emeka Obi, an investment  banker, the federal government revoked OPL 245 from Malabu, whose beneficial owner was Etete and Abacha and awarded it to Shell and Eni (Agip) consortium after a payment. Both companies purchased the rights to the OPL 245 for about $1.1 billion and the transfer was made “through” the Nigerian government to accounts controlled by a former Nigerian petroleum minister, Dan Etete. From accounts controlled by Mr Etete, about half the money ($520 million) went to accounts of companies controlled by Mr Aliyu Abubakar “AA Oil”.

Senior officers of both Shell and Eni were closely involved in these series of corrupt negotiations and sanctioned the acquisition of OPL 245 and the companies are indicted through the principle of vicarious liability as the senior officers were agents of their respective companies. Both companies also knew or ought to have known the fraudulent and corrupt nature and history of the grant of OPL 245.

Abubakar Aliyu and Emeka Obi, amongst others, are alleged to have acted as “middlemen” for top officials of former President Goodluck Jonathan’s administration and Etete in the scandal. Also, it appeared that the Federal Government of Nigeria, through the then Attorney General, Adoke, and Minister of Petroleum Resources, Deziani, facilitated the papers for the agreement and transfer of the said sum from the Shell/Eni to a Federation Account and finally to accounts controlled by Etete. 

2017: In March 2017, the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, filed fresh charges against Aliyu Abubakar, along with Mohammed Adoke, a former Attorney General and Minister of Justice, and Dan Etete, a former Minister of Petroleum, for involvement in the $1.1 billion Malabu oil scandal. They are being prosecuted alongside two international oil giants – Shell Nigeria Exploration Production Company, and ENI, as well as Malabu Oil & Gas Ltd, Rocky Top Resource Ltd, Imperial Union Ltd, Novel Properties & Dev. Co. Ltd, Group Construction Ltd, and Megatech Engineering Ltd.

2020: As of March, 2020, the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission [EFCC] were prosecuting 8 defendants in the Malabu case on 47 count charges bordering on fraud, bribery, abuse of office, money laundering, unlawful obtainment, and so forth. As of the last court hearing “arraignment” on March 4th, two of the defendants denied ownership of some companies also being prosecuted in the charge sheet. The matter was adjourned to March 17th and 18th pending confirmations from the Corporate Affairs Commission (CAC) before prosecution can begin their duties in earnest. This is 22 YEARS LATER!

The Malabu Scandal, alleged to be Africa’s most controversial and corrupt oil deals has indicted top Nigerian ex-officials such as; Former Attorney General of the Federation, Mohammed Adoke; Former Minister of Petroleum Resources, Alison Deziani, Dan Etete, and so forth, and has set off a series of multifaceted litigations and criminal prosecutions against the litany of local and foreign actors in several jurisdictions including Italy, France, Netherland, Switzerland, United States and Britain. Some of these foreign courts have also indicted Shell, Eni and convicted few Nigerian actors including Emeka Obi in Italy.

It is noteworthy that the entire transactions “Malabu deal(s)” emanating from the grant of OPL 245 was built on a shaky, fraudulent and illegal foundation and thus, neither Etete nor Malabu acquired legitimate rights to OPL 245, as it is a common legal principle that one cannot benefit from his own wrongdoing “Ex turpi causa non oritur actio“. 

In conclusion, the Malabu Scandal isn’t a Scandal. “Scandal” does not do justice to what transpired over 13 years, and managed to be lingering 22 years later without a single conviction of the perpetrators in Nigeria. What happened was a national sellout. Akin to how the Royal Niger Company sold the territories now Nigeria to Britain for £865,000. This time, it’s not the white man; it’s our leaders who hold their offices and manage our resources in trust for the Nigerian people.

Furthermore, it is my firm belief that the outrageous wrongdoings in the Malabu case are of a magnitude such that should stimulate the national consciousness and outcry of the Nigerian people, and actively mobilise them against corruption of any scale and kind. In addition, it is my firm belief that this consciousness and mobilisation, alongside the instrumental provisions of the Federal Audit Service Commission Bill and the Petroleum Industry Bill would strengthen the regulatory frameworks and institutions against corruption, bring Nigeria in tandem with global anti-corruption and extractive best practices, thereby deterring similar future occurrence. 

Other Salient Issues Connected to Malabu:

  • A President’s alleged ignorance of the overt acts of Senior Cabinet Officials of his administration – who represented the Federal Republic of Nigeria in the “Scandal”.
  • Lack of Public Beneficial Ownership Data/Register, especially with regards to Private ‘LTD’ Companies, as the provisions are directed to Public “PLC” Companies. Private Companies are not bound by Beneficial Ownership obligations of Sections 94-98 of the Companies and Allied Matters Act (CAMA). Guess what? Virtually all companies in the extractive sector today are Private LTD Companies. The NEITI Beneficial Ownership Register recently launched still has a long way to go to address this.
  • Excessive Powers of the Minister for Petroleum Resources. The current Petroleum Industry Bill that was refused assent by the President still gave enormous, discretionary powers to the Minister of Petroleum Resources. 
  • Arbitrary and Discretionary Grant of Licenses by the Minister of Petroleum Resources.
  • Weak Petroleum Regulatory Frameworks. Many of the laws around the Extractive Industry are very outdated. The Petroleum Act; NNPC Act, including the CAMA, to mention but a few, are antiquated; providing fines such as 25 to 2000 Naira.
  • Weak/Limited Audit Capabilities of the Office of the Auditor-General for the Federation. The Auditor General of the Federation has no special, comprehensive statutory, enabling enactment (besides Section 85 of the Constitution) that empowers him to audit statutory agencies, corporations, commissions and bodies. He also has no power to sanction MDAs who default in submitting their annual audit reports. However, while the current Federal Audit Service Commission Bill (which was also refused presidential assent) gives the office much of these audit powers, Section 85(3) of the constitution, including specific clauses of the Bill prohibits the office from conducting audit on statutory corporations, agencies, commissions and bodies. Perhaps, if the office had the required audit powers, the Malabu Scandal would have been detected a longer time ago.

Ultimately, Malabu Scandal is possibly one case out of a number; and if all the aforementioned issues are not adequately addressed, there might just yet be another massive, perhaps, worse Malabu in the Federal Republic of Malabu.

Charles E. Uche ESQ. is a Staff Attorney at Connected Development [CODE]. He holds a degree in Public and Private Law from Afe Babalola University, and the Nigerian Law School, Abuja.