The Nigeria Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (NEITI), Directorio Legislativo, BudgIT Foundation and Transparency in Totality have developed a tool, “Joining the Dots”(JTD) to crossmatch the data on beneficial ownership (BO) and Politically Exposed Persons against oil, and gas and mining licenses in other to detect the existence of conflicts of interest.
NEITI’s Executive Secretary, Dr. Orji Ogbonnaya Orji while speaking at the launch of the tool on Tuesday in Abuja said, the challenges and risks of anonymous beneficial owners of extractives assets in resource rich countries results in monumental corruption, tax evasion and diversion of a country’s wealth into the pockets of a few privileged individuals.
The Web platform, was therefore, created to cross-reference the various data sources on politically exposed persons and the beneficial ownership registers, identify red flags in the licenses award processes in Nigeria’s oil, gas and mining sectors.
Dr. Orji said, the four organisations of which NEITI was proud to be a member have two common strategic goals. “These are to support the establishment of frameworks that will facilitate transparency and accountability in Nigeria’s extractive sector. Secondly, to contribute to the unfettered and public access to data on politically exposed persons (PEPs) in Nigeria”.
He noted that the two goals were clearly in sync with the mandate given to NEITI in its establishment Act-The NEITI Act 2007 and the NEITI Strategic Plan 2022-2026.
He said, NEITI has long established that Beneficial Ownership Transparency (BOT) is one of the tools that can be used for resource mobilisation, curb corruption, illicit financial flows and even terrorism financing.
According to him, NEITI piloted the first BO reporting in 2013 and officially launched a BO register in 2019, adding that at the global EITI level, all implementing member countries are required to report on the BO of the country’s extractive assets. “Globally, over 100 countries have made commitments to implement BOT reforms”, he added.
Dr. Orji said, “in the past one year, NEITI has provided the technical support to this project, backing it up with the relevant data, information and the agency’s over a decade experience in BOR.
“What we are launching today is the result of that year long behind the scenes work, linking data on PEPs to Nigeria’s BO registers with the CAC and NEITI and the areas of conflicts of interests detected and the companies involved in Nigeria’s extractive industries. You would be taken through the platform, present the results and discuss strategies on how to use it to drive reforms advocacy.
“This project aligns with the principles of the EITI and reinforces NEITI’s position on the agency’s capacity to use credible data to curb corruption on possible conflicts of interest, corruption, or misuse of public office cases.
“The EITI is founded on the philosophy that regular disclosures of information and data in the extractive sector will promote public debate, foster civic actions and accountability in the sector, ensuring that revenues from the sector are mobilized to create opportunities for investments, job creation and poverty reduction.
“NEITI’s mandate is to ensure transparency and accountability in the nation’s oil, gas and mining sector. We have been courageous in disclosing information and data, as well as made copious recommendations in our annual industry reports.
“The Launching of this platform today is coming at a time that NEITI was among the high ranking Nigerian delegation of member States of the Inter-Governmental Action Group Against Money Laundering in West Africa (GIABA).
” GIABA is deeply concerned that money laundering and associated predicate offences undermine socio-economic and political development and regional security and convened a meeting in Accra Ghana to reaffirm their determination to safeguard the West African sub region from money laundering and other forms of financial crime.
“The meeting in Accra was informed by the transnational nature of money laundering and associated predicate offences, and the misuse of legal persons and legal arrangements by criminals to move, hide, and transfer assets to conceal unlawful activity.
“Connecting the Dots project therefore aligns with NEITI’ commitment to deepen beneficial ownership transparency through efficient use of information and data to make it more difficult for money launderers and other criminals to conceal their identities, assets, and criminal activities through the misuse of legal entities.
“In this regard, NEITI will work closely with partners on Connecting the Dot Project to strengthen public-private sector partnership in the implementation of beneficial ownership (BO) disclosure requirements because we firmly believe that a collaborative approach for obtaining, verifying, and holding beneficial ownership information involving all critical stakeholders can facilitate the adoption of trusted mechanisms for determining real beneficial ownership of oil, gas and mining assets”, he said.