NEITI Urges Oil Communities To Support Beneficial Ownership Disclosure For Better Service …says Nigeria Loses N3-6triilion to Non-Disclosure of Beneficial Owners

As calls for accountability in the oil and gas sector mounts, oil host communities in the Niger Delta have been called upon to support moves by the f

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As calls for accountability in the oil and gas sector mounts, oil host communities in the Niger Delta have been called upon to support moves by the federal government to enforce the disclosure of beneficial owners of oil blocks in the country.

Mrs Obiageli Onuorah, assistant director in the Nigeria Extractive Industry Initiative, NEITI made the call while making a presentation on Beneficial Ownership Disclosure to Niger Delta community women in Port Harcourt, at a training organized by Kebetkache Women Resource and Development Center.

She said the world is moving towards the registration of beneficial owners who are the natural persons who, ultimately own, control or benefit from legal persons stressing   that not doing so gives room to a lot of secrecy that sometimes shields fraudulent acts.

Mrs. Onuorah said disclosure of owners of oil blocks is the trend globally and Nigeria will do better by joining the train.

“Group 20 assented to BO registration in 2014, European Union in 2015. The United Kingdom is committed to online registry while Ukraine, Afghanistan, France, have also joined. President Muhammadu Buhari committed Nigeria to BO registration at a London anti-corruption summit in 2016”, se enumerated.

The NEITI official stated that BO registration will help track sources of funding for terrorism, drug trafficking, as well as promote transparency in the extractive industry thus stemming fraud.

According a NEITI policy brief, Nigeria and other developing countries lose about $1trillion (N3.6 trillion) every year through secret company ownership. Africa is reported to be losing a lot of money through the non-disclosure of beneficial owners of oil blocks.

According to her, disclosure will improve transparency ad control crime.

 “Beneficial Ownership Disclosure will increase financial transparency. Public registration of BOs are the only way to prevent criminals from hiding behind opaque structures and nominees from engaging in tax evasion, money laundering, fraud and other forms of corruption including the financing of terrorism”.

With disclosure she added, proper taxes would be paid and the urge to acquire numerous state of the art multi-million cars and mansions would be curbed.

In addition, investor confidence would improve as needed information would be readily available for market regulators and players. “It is a pre-requisite for the smooth functioning of markets by providing basic information for market participants and regulators so they know who is doing business where, as well as for the wider understanding of patterns of national and international economic activity. It will also strengthen the extractive industries governance.”

Obiageli said NEITI which operates on a tripod platform consisting of   the government, private and civil society sectors,  is committed to ensuring that communities in the country benefit from resources in their soil.

Pushing for accountability from public actors she charged, “You need to be interested in the use of disbursed funds coming from natural resources. NEITI has the potential to drive extractive sector reform, encourage civil society to promote good governance and the end result is prosperity for all Nigerians. You have legitimacy to demand answers from your representatives as citizens of Nigeria.”