REQUEST FOR INVESTIGATION INTO THE ACTIVITIES OF PRICEWATERHOUSECOOPERS ON THE FORENSIC AUDIT OF NIGERIAN NATIONAL PETROLEUM CORPORATION (NNPC)

Civil Society Network Against Corruption (CSNAC) is a coalition of over hundred and fifty Anti-corruption organizations whose primary aim is to constructively combat corruption vigorously and to ensure the effective monitoring of the various Anti-graft agencies in the fight against corruption and contribute towards the enthronement of transparency, accountability, probity and total commitment in the fight to eradicate corruption in Nigeria.

In September 2013, the former Central Bank Governor, and current Emir of Kano, Mallam Sanusi Lamido Sanusi, in a letter to President Goodluck Jonathan stated that from January 2012- July 2013, the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) lifted $65 billion worth of crude oil on behalf of the Federal Government but remitted only $15.2 billion into the Federation account with an outstanding of $49.8billion to the Federal Government.

However, in defense, on December 13, 2013, the NNPC denied the claim and asserted no money was missing. Therefore, a reconciliation committee comprising of representatives of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC), the Department of Petroleum Resources (DPR), the Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS), Office of the Accountant General, Budget Office of the Federation, Federal Ministry of Finance and Federal Ministry of Petroleum was set up.

The Reconciliation Committee on December 18, 2013 presented its report, confirming the claims of the former CBN governor to the tune of $10.8 billion as against a CBN reconciled figure of $12billion. The CBN, later on February 4th, 2014 informed the Senate Committee on Finance that the NNPC needed to account for $20billion as it could only confirm receipt of $47billion of $67billion revenue.

Then, on February 13th, 2014, the NNPC provided explanation of the $20billion shortfall while the Finance and Coordinating Minister of the economy, Mrs. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala recommended an independent forensic audit.

In line with Finance Minister’s recommendation, the Federal Government therefore on May 8, 2014, appointed PricewaterhouseCoopers to carry out a “forensic audit” of the NNPC; the audit was to be carried out within 16weeks, under the supervision of the Office of the Auditor General of the Federation. The report was submitted to President Goodluck Jonathan in November 2014, 6 months after, with media presence and photo sessions. Neither the auditing firm nor the government made any public disclosure of findings and recommendations contained in the report. The Office of the Auditor General of the Federation later in February 2015, after failure to honour several demands for the release of the report from the public and National Assembly a press briefing was held by the Accountant General to announce that the report recommended the remittance of $1.48 billion to the Federation Account by NNPC.

CSNAC, in a letter dated February 20th, 2015 and relying on the Freedom of Information Act 2011 wrote to PwC, requesting for a copy of the forensic audit report. PwC in a letter dated March 16th, 2015 responded saying that the report was prepared on the basis of their engagement with the government and could not release the report based on client confidentiality. It went further to state that the confidentiality obligation was not overridden by the provisions of FOI 2011 as it does not fall within the category of public institution as contemplated by the Act. Haven acknowledged that the report was made for the government whose activities are public and by extension making the report a public document, PwC still went on to make a “private document” for the office of the AuGF as it stated that the report was for the use of the AuGF thereby “misleading the public and misrepresenting facts”.

On April 26th 2015, the President-elect, General Muhammadu Buhari vowed to revisit the issue of alleged missing $20 billion and further launch an investigation into the activities of NNPC. The president, Dr. Goodluck Jonathan directed that the audit report be made public and was released to media houses on April 27th, 2015.

However, to the utter dismay of Nigerians, the report of the so much expected ‘forensic audit’ submitted by PwC cannot be certified as credible as the firm relayed as much. The Premium Times in its account of the PwC report on April 28th, 2015 stated that,

“PwC in a startling introductory letter addressed to the Auditor General said findings in its 199-page report were limited to available information and did not constitute a review in generally acceptable auditing/attestation standards.”

The introductory letter by the auditing firm further related that,

“We provide no opinion attestation or other form of assurance with respect to our work or the information upon which our work was based.”

The report gave no strong and independent opinion of its findings despite saying it was carried out using forensic techniques.

It is rather appalling and disconcerting that a reputable audit firm like PricewaterhouseCoopers will come forward with such a report that proffers no definitive stance. PwC was contracted to carry out a ‘forensic audit’, in essence, it was expected to carry out an investigative/expert audit and not just take any fact or document on face value. The firm in its report claimed that it had no access to the full accounts of Nigerian Petroleum Development Company (NPDC), a subsidiary of NNPC. It stated further that without an independent legal opinion, it relied on the legal advice of the Nigerian Attorney General of the Federation on the subject of the transfers of various NNPC divestments which impacted crude oil flows in that period.

PwC as a professional audit firm had the duty of advising the Federal Government on the substandard quality of any report that lacked all the vital information required and could have rescinded the contract instead of coming up with a sham in the name of a report and allowing itself be used by some unscrupulous elements bent on continuous entrenchment of corruption in Nigeria.

PwC also stated that the report was for the office of the Auditor General of the Federation (AuGF) and not for the public yet submitted the report to the President. This in itself is contradictory and deserves an explanation. PwC was appointed by the Federal Government for the purpose of providing alternative report and expertise to the obvious incompetency and conspiracy of AuGF office. The report therefore, ought to be for the Office of the Presidency and not that of the AuGF. The reason why PwC decided to submit the report to the President remains fact within its knowledge and thus is in the best position to set the records straight and provide logical explanations to Nigerians who deserve it.

Finally, despite listing series of potential factors that could render its findings implausible, some of which have been aforementioned, PwC still declared that NNPC should refund to the government a paltry sum of $1.48billion missing oil funds. We and indeed Nigerians in general find this hard to believe, as amount declared is a far cry from the alleged sum NNPC ought to remit. Moreover, PwC already stated in its introductory letter that the audit report is unreliable so why should Nigerians hold such report credible? We suspect foul play and hanky-panky, and it irks us that the players of this fraudulent act think they can pool the wool over our eyes.

CSNAC is therefore demanding a full scale investigation into the activities of PwC, to determine its culpability in conducting such unprofessional service, culminating in the submission of this rather ridiculous report in corruption of this magnitude. We hope that this petition will be treated with the utmost urgency and importance it deserves so that the integrity of the Audit profession in Nigeria will continued to be maintained and preserved.

Thank you for your anticipated cooperation.

Sincerely,

Olanrewaju Suraju
Chairman

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