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#Nigeria No plan to prosecute oil thieves now – FG

May 4, 2012 by Ihuoma Chiedozie, Abuja
Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Mohammed Bello Adoke (SAN)

Against the expectations of Nigerians, the Federal Government on Thursday said it was not ready to prosecute individuals and firms indicted in the N1.7tn oil subsidy scam.

The Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Mohammed Bello Adoke (SAN), who spoke government’s mind in a statement, said it would be guided by the dictates of due process and the rule of law in its handling of the report of the House of Representatives AdHoc Committee on Fuel Subsidy Regime.

Apparently responding to widespread calls, particularly from civil society, for government to take an immediate decisive action on the report, the AGF said the probe was “mainly fact-finding.” He stressed that the Federal Government would conduct thorough investigations in the matter before commencing prosecution.

He hinted that a forensic audit of the accounts of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation, directed by President Goodluck Jonathan in 2010, was part of the ongoing investigations that would result in the possible prosecution.

He re-echoed Jonathan’s declaration that the Federal Government was determined to prosecute all those indicted in the report, no matter how highly placed.

However, the AGF noted that the report as well as the resolutions of members of the House on the document were yet to be transmitted to the executive.

He said when received, the report and the resolutions would be passed to the anti-graft agencies for perusal. He stated that the anti-graft agencies would then be expected to assemble ingredients required to raise criminal charges that might be filed against the indicted persons.

The statement reads in part, “The attention of the office of the Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice has been drawn to recent calls by some groups and well-meaning Nigerians for the prosecution of those allegedly indicted in the Report of the House of Representatives AdHoc Committee on Fuel Subsidy Regime.

“It is pertinent to reiterate government’s position as aptly captured by Mr. President’s initial reaction to the report of the fuel subsidy probe to the effect that any person found wanting will be prosecuted, irrespective of the person’s standing in the society.

“Nigerians must, however, appreciate that in discharging this onerous responsibility, government must be guided by the dictates of the rule of law and due process as required of any democratically elected and responsible government.

“In this regard, the need to ensure that thorough investigations are carried out by relevant law enforcement agencies cannot be overemphasised.

“This is more so, as the exercise carried out by the House of Representatives is mainly fact-finding.

“I also wish to point out that the report of the ad hoc committee and the resolutions adopted by the House of Representatives have yet to be transmitted to the executive arm of government.”

Adoke cautioned against stampeding the anti-graft agencies into embarking on a hasty prosecution.

“Experience has shown that whenever our law enforcement agencies are stampeded to arraign suspects, the end result is usually the discharge of such suspects by the courts ostensibly for want of evidence.

“Nigerians must, therefore, allow our law enforcement agencies to conduct painstaking investigations that will ultimately satisfy the standard of proof required in criminal cases,” he said.

He drew attention to a forensic audit of the accounts of the NNPC, directed by Jonathan in 2010, and urged Nigerians to wait patiently for the outcome of the investigations and subsequent prosecutions that may arise from the subsidy probe conducted by the House, as well as a similar probe by the Senate.

He said, “I, therefore, humbly urge Nigerians to have faith in the processes being undertaken and to patiently wait for the outcome of the investigations and subsequent prosecutions that may flow from the fuel subsidy probe conducted by the House of Representatives and the ongoing probe by the Senate of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.”

On the threat by the Save Nigeria Group to mobilise Nigerians for a protest if action is not taken on the report after the expiration of a two-week ultimatum, Adoke said, “In this respect, I wish to observe that the ultimatum being given by some groups and the threat to embark on demonstrations and strike actions will only compound the problem and divert attention, as well as, the energy that would otherwise have been channelled into productive use by law enforcement agencies.”

Source – The Punch

#Nigeria Fire Diezani now!

Minister of Petroleum, Diezani Alison-Madueke
The Nation‘s Editorial

•The minister and others who presided over the fuel subsidy scam have no moral right to retain their posts

There are two ways to interpret the reluctance of the Federal Government to act decisively by firing officials of the petroleum ministry at the centre of the subsidy scam. The first is that the Jonathan administration has become so impervious to legitimate demands by citizens that government appointees – like Caesar’s wife – be seen to be above board at all times, as to be contemptuous of their opinions. The other is that the affected officials are indispensable to the administration to such an extent that it would risk the odium of Nigerians to keep them on board. Either way, we consider their retention in government as setting a new low in public service.

We refer here to the continuing retention of Diezani Alison-Madueke, the Minister of Petroleum, in the federal cabinet. The same applies to the executives of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation, the Petroleum Product Prices Regulatory Authority (PPPRA) as indeed all other high officials of the Jonathan administration that had anything remotely to do with the fuel subsidy scam.

Agreed, none of the officials have been convicted of any crime(s), yet. They needn’t be. To start with, it is the job of the anti-graft agencies to sift through the probe document by the House of Representatives Ad Hoc Committee on Petroleum Subsidy to determine those to be brought to trial. However, knowing how tardy the judicial system is, and given the half-hearted commitment by the anti-graft bodies to the fight against corruption, we would not even go as far as raising any expectations that the government would go after those indicted by the lower parliament – or even act on the House report at all.

It is however a different call for minister Alison-Madueke and her officials in the petroleum ministry. We must emphasise that one of the burdens necessarily imposed on those privileged to serve in the public service is recognising when to quit. That a high official whose ministry came under intense searchlight would insist on being at the driver’s seat – and well after the earth-shaking revelations of fraud were established – and would still choose to carry on in office as if nothing happened has become a new index in measuring the parting of ways between our officials and shame.

We are saying here that the minister and her top officials ought to have handed in their letters of resignation long ago. Their hyper-activism in the wake of the House probe impresses no one, least of all, Nigerians who have now seen the hollow posturing of the administration for what it is – a mere smokescreen. The scandal brought untold embarrassment on the nation as consequence of their failure of oversight. Added to the moral lapse in failing to exercise the voluntary option of throwing in the towel is their continuing occupation of cosy offices.

The President should take the drastic option of firing Alison-Madueke and co – now.

We say this because nothing makes her and the other officials indispensable. Much as we recognise the prerogative of the President to hire and fire his appointees, the matter goes to the heart of the question whether the President can afford to keep her and the other officials under whose watch the grave economic crimes were committed in office, without courting the odium of Nigerians for himself and his government.

At the risk of sounding too obvious, what is needed now in the petroleum ministry is a thorough cleansing of its Augean stable. We do not see how officials generally seen in the eyes of Nigerians as tainted by scandal could be part of the cleansing process. It does not make sense. For the umpteenth time, we say it is time to let Diezani Alison-Madueke and others go!

Source: The Nation

#Nigeria CBN denies paying N844b to NNPC

Sanusi Lamido Sanusi Lamido


The row over an N844.9billion fuel subsidy has deepened with the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) denying payment of the cash to the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC).

The apex bank also alleged that the Petroleum Products Pricing and Regulatory Agency (PPPRA) made N999million suspicious 128 payments (totalling N127.872billion) to marketers between January 12 and 13, 2009.

It insisted that by its records, the PPPRA paid N1.73trillion to other marketers – as at December 2011.

The CBN made the clarifications in a four-page letter to the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Alhaji Aminu Tambuwal, and the Chairman of the House Ad Hoc Committee on the Monitoring of Subsidy Regime, Mallam Farouk Lawan.

The letter, dated April 27, 2012 and exclusively obtained by our correspondent, is the CBN’s response to some observations and recommendations of the Ad Hoc Committee.

The letter indicated that neither the CBN nor the NNPC is accepting the N844.944b liability, which the House Ad Hoc Committee asked NNPC to refund.

As at yesterday, it was unclear who drew the ‘strange’ N844.9b fuel subsidy uncovered by the committee.

The Farouk Lawan Committee in its report alleged that the NNPC might have been drawing fuel subsidy from two sources.

The committee said: “Contrary to the earlier official figure of subsidy payment of N1.3 trillion, the Accountant-General of the Federation put forward a figure of N1.6trillion, the CBN N1.7trillion while the committee established subsidy payment of N2.587.087trillion as at December 31, 2011 amounting to more than 900per cent over the appropriated sum of N245billion.

“The figure of N2.587.087trillion is based on the CBN figure of N844.944b paid to NNPC in addition to another figure of N847.942billion reflected as withdrawals by NNPC from the Excess Crude Naira Account as well as the sum of N894.201billion paid as subsidy to marketers.

“The figure of N847.942billion quoted above strongly suggests that NNPC might have been withdrawing from two sources especially when the double withdrawals were also reflected both in 2009 and in 2010.”

The CBN letter reads: “Please be informed that following the submission of the ad-hoc committee’s report on the above subject to the House, the CBN hereby responds to some of the observations and recommendations contained in the Report, as it affects the Bank

“The CBN in its submission to the Committee on January 25, 2012 gave a figure of N1.73trillion comprising direct deductions and Sovereign Debt Notes(SDNs), issued by the Petroleum Products Pricing and Regulatory Agency (PPPRA) to other marketers as at  December 2011.

“According to the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) such subsidy approvals are credits due to the Corporation towards the cost of its domestic crude allocation.

“There was no time CBN paid any money to NNPC in respect of subsidy claim. It is pertinent to note that NNPC started advising CBN of subsidy deductions from October 2009 after the states had complained at various Federation Account Allocation Committee (FAAC) meetings of lack of transparency in the management of the subsidy regime.

“Our figure presented to the Committee was therefore from October 2009 to December 2011.

“Direct deductions by NNPC as per CBN records between October 2009 and December 2011, shows a total figure of N844, 944,448,471.72 before transfers to Federation Accounts were made.

“CBN does not make any payment to the NNPC on fuel subsidy. The Corporation deducts at source before remitting to the Federation Account.”

Regarding N999million suspicious 128 payments of totaling N127.872billion between January 12 and 13, 2009, the CBN said it was done by the PPPRA which has accepted blame for it.

It added: “A review of the statements of the account operated as PPPRA/PSF Account showed that these were instruments issued by the PPPRA and drawn on the account at CBN Abuja branch.

“The PPPRA has already issued an official statement taking ownership of the payments which has already been acknowledged by the House Committee.”

On the recommendation of warped budget management by the Federal Ministry of Finance which led to the N2.587trillion incurred on fuel subsidy in 2011, the CBN said it might not be in a position to talk on that.

It added: “This recommendation falls within the purview of the Fiscal authorities and NNPC. CBN is not in a position to comment on extra budgetary spending.”

Regarding the allegation that the CBN created avenue for easy falsification of records by marketers through its forex policy, the apex bank said: “The CBN under the leadership of Governor Sanusi Lamido Sanusi was commended for discharging its responsibility well under the scheme.”

A top source in NNPC said: “We hope the House will look at the records very well, this corporation did not receive double payments for fuel subsidy at all.

“The NNPC cannot refund what it did not receive. We have also sent a note to the House leadership and the Ad Hoc Committee on this controversial fuel subsidy fund.”

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