Following an audit team’s report exposing fraud, bookkeeping deficiencies, and abuse of office, Engr. Sarki Auwalu, a former boss of the Department of Petroleum Resources (DPR), who was booted out as the Chief Executive Officer of the Nigerian Midstream and Downstream Petroleum Regulatory Authority board, has allegedly refunded some millions of dollars to the government.
The refund followed an audit team’s report exposing fraud, bookkeeping deficiencies, and abuse of office by Auwalu, Persecondnews.com learnt.
In a letter dated September 28, 2021, and read by the Senate President, Ahmad Lawan, during plenary – President Muhammadu Buhari requested the replacement of the nomination of Engr. Sarki Auwalu as the Chief Executive Officer on the Nigerian Midstream and Downstream Petroleum Regulatory Authority (NPRA) board.
The President in a previous letter dated September 16, 2021, had requested the upper chamber to confirm Auwalu alongside three others as board members of the Nigerian Midstream and Downstream Petroleum Regulatory Authority.
Buhari, in his new request received by the upper chamber, had sought the replacement of Sarki Auwalu with Engr. Farouk A. Ahmed as Chief Executive Officer.
He explained that the replacement request was duly in accordance with the provision of Section 34(3) of the Petroleum Industry Act 2021.
Industry sources told Persecondnews.com that the removal of Auwalu is linked to various allegations of fraud, abuse of office, and gross mismanagement.
“The federal government is disturbed with findings of an internal audit team set up to evaluate DPR’s accounts and controls under Auwalu. At least a mind-boggling amount of over $3 million dollars has been returned to the government coffers by Auwalu,’’ a source said.
According to documents sighted by Persecondnews.com, DPR’s financial records are riddled with many bookkeeping discrepancies, irregularities, and errors that necessitated investigations by a reliable external audit.
Another grave fraud uncovered in the DPR is how Auwalu and the accountants had deliberately cooked the books to mislead the federal government and gave the department a bloated and padded budget.
A member of the audit team, who spoke with this newspaper under the condition of anonymity, disclosed that the DPR’s accounting practices appear to be orchestrated devoid of unaccountability.
Apart from padding the budgets and tampering with the accounts, Auwalu, was also accused of allegedly mismanaging the marginal fields rounds with several complaints of underhand deals.
The marginal bid round conducted under him as a director is said to be the worse exercise in the history of bid rounds in Nigeria.
“Auwalu’s fraud amounts to theft on a grand scale — theft not only from Nigeria’s taxpayers’ money, but also from the nation’s wellbeing and its future,’’ another source said.
Persecondnews.com also gathered that several weeks after his exit, Auwalu has yet to return official vehicles worth millions of naira to the federal government.
“When unelected bureaucrats misuse, mismanage and misallocate taxpayers’ funds, it not only takes resources away from vital government functions, it weakens citizens’ faith and trust in the government,’’ said a member of the audit team.
However, efforts by our correspondent to get Auwalu’s reaction were unsuccessful as Per Second News questions sent to him prior to this report were ignored.