The Public Interest and Accountability Committee (PIAC) has withdrawn from a partnership with the Economic and Organised Crime Office (EOCO) aimed at fighting corruption related to disbursement of petroleum revenue.
The decision was taken after a review of the deal by the new board of PIAC. PIAC is the statutory body with oversight responsibility of the management and use of the country’s petroleum revenues.
Speaking at a media engagement on Saturday (13 November), the vice chairman of PIAC, Nasir Alfa Mohammed, said they found some inherent challenges in the MoU with EOCO prompting them to abrogate it.
“Over the years, the partnership had to be reviewed. We realised that we are dealing with a highly political sensitive organisation (EOCO) so there were internal members of PIAC who thought that we need to re-evaluate the kind of relationship,” Mohammed said.
He added: “For example, if you find somebody of an infraction of the law and then you give it to EOCO and for whatever reason the person happens to be a power broker, and EOCO comes out to do their investigations… and nothing happened, now you are tight-lipped.”
“So, honestly the PIAC members now say that it is better to allow agencies to do their work, so it is better that we leave it for them to do their independent work. If they want to, that is their job… they don’t really need us to come and tell them… so we are a bit careful about that arrangement that is how come.”
PIAC and EOCO entered into an agreement to fight corruption relating to disbursement of petroleum revenue in 2019.
As part of the agreement, PIAC would among other things be required to furnish EOCO with accompanying documents that relate to publications, and where necessary it would avail itself to EOCO during investigations and also submit copies of reports highlighting sections that require further investigations.
For its part, EOCO would be required to update PIAC on progress of investigations that are related to matters referred to it by PIAC.
It shall also submit a formal report to PIAC upon conclusion of investigations referred to it by the latter.