Jonathan under fire for appointing Aig-Imoukhuede to subsidy verification panel

Civil society groups have condemned President Goodluck Jonathan for appointing Aigboje Aig-Imoukhuede, the Group Managing director of Access Bank, as chairman of the 15-man committee to verify and reconcile all claims made in the report of a Technical Committee set up to review fuel subsidy payments.

“That is an aberration, although it is common with this government,” said Olanrewaju Suraju, the head of a civil society group, the Human and Environmental Development Agenda (HEDA).

A company owned by Mr. Imoukhuede, Ice Energy Petroleum Trading Limited, was indicted by the House of Representatives committee which probed the fuel subsidy payments. The company received $2,131,166.32 (N345.3 million) in hard currency in 2011, without importing or supplying any product, the House report stated.

Ice Energy had failed to either appear or submit documents to the House committee. Following the insistence by many Nigerians that the House report be implemented, the Federal Government set up the Technical committee headed by Mr. Imoukhuede and subsequently, the new 15-man committee.

It’s all condemnation

The HEDA boss questioned the propriety of Mr. Jonathan’s decision to appoint the Access bank boss saying “how can any rational human being, a PhD holder for that matter make such appointment.”

He described the appointment by Mr. Jonathan and other actions and statements of the President as steps that are taking Nigeria backward.

“We’ve never had it so bad in Nigeria. President Jonathan is taking Nigeria to the lowest level that we have ever had in this country,” Mr. Suraju said

The coordinator of Coalition Against Corrupt Leaders (CACOL), Debo Adeniran, believes that by appointing Mr. Imoukhuede to “investigate himself,” the President has shown that he is not interested in the outcome of the probe.

“Jonathan is not really interested in the probes being carried out. He does not want such probe to succeed,” Mr. Adeniran said.

The CACOL boss described Mr. Imoukhuede’s appointment as a characteristic behaviuor of the President Jonathan’s administration.

“It is the stock-trade of this government to surround itself with indicted persons,” Mr. Adeniran said. “Innocent people will not want to work with a government that is constituted through a fraudulent means.”

Imoukhuede’s presence discredits report

Lagos lawyer, Jiti Ogunye, believes that the presence of Mr.  Imoukhuede on both the technical committee and the 15-man panel has already discredited whatever report emanates from them.

“The report is discredited. How can somebody who has been indicted, who has not cleared his name preside over something like that,” Mr. Ogunye stated.

The lawyer stated that by choosing the bank boss to chair the committee, Mr. Jonathan had shown his unwillingness to prosecute indicted officials and companies in the fuel subsidy scam.  He said it called to question the credibility of people around the President.

“It appears this government is in short supply of credible people,” Mr. Ogunye said.

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