The people who misappropriated billions of naira of funds belonging to Nigeria’s state oil company NNPC, will soon be prosecuted, President Muhammadu Buhari has said, according to his spokesman, Femi Adesina.
Mr. Buhari, who said this on Sunday in New York at a meeting with President Xi Jinping of China, said his administration was determined to fully sanitize Nigeria’s oil industry and make it totally free of corruption and shady deals.
The President did not, however, indicate how soon the prosecutions would start or if indeed investigations have been concluded and clearly culpable individuals established.
The NNPC under the immediate past administration of President Goodluck Jonathan was involved in several shady deals, many of which have been cancelled by the present government. However, Mr. Jonathan’s Petroleum Minister, Diezani Alison-Madueke, has been away from Nigeria, allegedly in hiding, since Mr. Buhari was sworn-in as president.
At the meeting held on the sidelines of the 70th General Assembly of the United Nations, Mr. Buhari said that a necessary first step in reforming the oil sector had already been taken with the appointment of a new management for the NNPC and its subsequent reorganisation.
The president thanked Mr. Jinping for China’s ongoing help in curbing crude oil theft from Nigeria.
He applauded China’s interception of shiploads of crude oil stolen from Nigeria, and which were to be sold and proceeds paid into private accounts.
“We know your stand on corruption, and we are grateful. Your continued cooperation in curbing oil theft from Nigeria will be appreciated,” Mr. Buhari told the Chinese leader.
He also assured President Xi Jinping that under its new leadership, the Nigerian military had been re-trained and re-equipped, and was now making steady gains against Boko Haram.
Mr. Jinping told Mr. Buhari that China, which is already involved in Nigeria in diverse areas like railway, airports, agriculture, and in the Mambilla Hydro-power project, among others, will increase its investment in the country’s agricultural sector to support the achievement of domestic food security.
He also promised further Chinese investment in Nigeria’s oil and gas industry, and more support for human capital development in the country.