President Goodluck Jonathan
| credits: File copy
President Goodluck Jonathan on Tuesday formally handed over the House of Representatives report containing details of the looting of the N1.7trn subsidy fund to the Attorney-General and Minister of Justice, Muhammed Adoke, SAN. The President directed the minister to prosecute all those found culpable.
Jonathan said there would be no sacred cows but asked Adoke to ensure a thorough investigation of the House findings.
Adoke, who spoke to State House correspondents shortly after receiving the report from the President, said he would promptly carry out Jonathan’s directive by forwarding the report to the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission for proper investigation.
Brandishing a copy of the report, the minister recalled that at the beginning of the probe, the President had promised the nation that the Federal Government would investigate properly to ensure that only the guilty were punished.
He said, “We don’t want situations where we are stampeded to initiate prosecution and we are unable to prosecute due to lack of or paucity of evidence.
“Now we have to ask the EFCC to do a thorough job as they have been doing and this report will help them tremendously. I have a specific instruction from the President that we should investigate and we should prosecute.
“I can assure you that we will prosecute all those that are found culpable. There will be no sacred cows. I am with a copy of the report. We are not going to victimise anybody, we are going to do this without sentiments and whoever is found guilty we are going to arraign him before a court of law and prosecute. If there is no enough evidence to prosecute anybody, we are not going to persecute anybody.”
Adoke said the investigation and prosecution would be done in the best interest of the country and without fear of intimidation from any quarters.
The subsidy scam report had elicited public outrage against government agencies and oil firms said to have been involved in the mismanagement of the nation’s wealth.
The indicted agencies include the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation, Petroleum Products Pricing and Regulatory Agency, Department of Petroleum Resources, the Office of the Accountant General of the Federation and some oil marketing companies.
According to the report, the NNPC is to refund N310.4bn it fraudulently claimed and another N285bn for fuel imports above the PPPRA level. It is also to refund another N108.6bn the corporation allegedly paid itself.
Also, the report says that N127.8bn split in tranches of N999 m was paid 128 times to “unknown entities” within 24 hours on January 12 and 13 in 2009 by a “particular Accountant General.”
A total of 15 purported fuel importers collected $337,842,663 in 2010 without importing any fuel, while another 18 firms, which failed to honour summons by the House panel, were asked to refund N41.9bn.
The report states, “It is believed that these companies deliberately refused to appear because they have something to hide. The relevant anti-corruption agencies should ensure full recovery.”
On the N127.8bn, Saturday PUNCH had reported exclusively that the Accountant-General to the Federation, Mr. J. O. Utunla, said the PPPRA made the controversial payment, as it owned and operated the account into which the said amount was paid.
Utunla, who spoke exclusively to Saturday PUNCH through the spokesman for his office, Mr. Hassan Dodo, had said, “The Account is owned and operated by the PPPRA. The OAGF did not issue cheques or any other payment instruments to any oil marketers.
“This Office therefore, suggests that the House could demand from the CBN the details and the organisation that issued the payments instrument. This will confirm that they were issued by the PPPRA and not the OAGF.”
Other recommendations of the House probe panel include the prosecution of all members of “staff of the PPPRA and the Department of Petroleum Department involved in the processing of applications by importers, and verification, confirmation and payment for imported products by importers and the NNPC.”
The House committee chaired by Mr. Farouk Lawan based its recommendation on the indicted persons’ alleged “negligence, collusion and fraud.”
According to the committee’s report, all the refunds are to be made within three months.
Apparently acting on the report, the Minister of Finance and the Coordinating Minister of the Economy, Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, had sacked the auditing firms of Akintola Williams and Company and Adekanola and Company.
The two firms certified the documents and claims of the marketers before payments were made.
The Save Nigeria Group, led by Pastor Tunde Bakare, had indicated that a mass protest would hold in Lagos and other cities across the country if the Federal Government failed to swiftly act on the fuel subsidy scam report.
The group has, however, since put the mass action on hold.