A civic group, End-Impunity-Now has renewed calls for the Petroleum Minister’s sack.
Nov.5 (PREMIUM TIMES) -A civil society group has demanded the sack and prosecution of the Minister of Petroleum, Diezani Alison-Madueke, for allegedly being responsible for the controversial appointment of two members of the Petroleum Revenue Special Task Force- Steve Oronsaye and Bon Otti- into top positions in the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation, NNPC, in order to undermine the committee’s work.
Mr. Oronsaye, former Head of Service of the Federation and Deputy Chairman of the Task Force, was named among members of the Board of the national oil company, which has the Minister as Chairman; while Mr. Otti was appointed Director of Finance, all in the course of the committee’s assignment.
Chairman of the task force and former Chairman, Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, Nuhu Ribadu, while submitting the report, faulted the decision by the duo to have failed to resign from the committee after accepting the plum jobs. Mr. Ribadu said this could have avoided a negative backlash on the integrity of the outcome of the assignment.
But the Executive Director of the Benin City-based Africa Network for Environment and Economic Justice, ANEEJ, David Ugolor, said on Monday that Mr. Oronsaye and Mr. Otti were emboldened to openly disagree with Ribadu by Mrs. Alison-Madueke.
“ANEEJ is not surprised at all over what happened,” Mr Ugolor said. “It is the continuation of the culture of impunity that we have been campaigning against in the country. Oronsaye has always been a pro-establishment man. He was acting a script by the minister.”
Mr. Ugolor alleged that Mrs. Madueke bribed both Mr. Oronsaye and Mr. Otti with plum positions in NNPC to influence the committee’s report in her favour.
“The offer of NNPC Board membership job to Oronsanye, and appointment of Otti as Director for Finance by Diezani is a clear case of bribery and corruption, with the ultimate intention of compromising them to undermine whatever report Ribadu was going to come out with.
“If that was not the case, they should have resigned their membership of the Committee immediately those appointments were made. What was Diezani’s intention of giving the appointments to them when she was the same person that appointed them into the committee, knowing that they were yet to complete their assignment?” he said
Mr. Ugolor, whose office serves as the secretariat for End-Impunity-Now, EIN, Campaign, a coalition of civil society groups committed to the fight against the culture of impunity in the country, did not spare President Jonathan in his criticisms. He alleged that the president was aware of the appointments and the implication to the report.
He said the manner in which the president deals with ‘Ribadu’s report’ will signify the seriousness or lack thereof of the fight against corruption in the oil industry.
He warned the president that Nigerians are watching him adding that “until he deals decisively with the issues in the reports, which are not different from those the three NEITI audits, Farouk Lawan Committee subsidy report and the KPMG reports identified, the crisis in the country will continue”.
“The first decisive step is for the President to sack the Petroleum Minister immediately. She is not only incompetent, she has shown that she does not have the capacity to handle the industry,” Mr Ugolor said.
On the eve of the submission of the report, EIN campaign also called for the sack, investigation and prosecution of the members of boards and managements of all agencies like the NNPC, Department of Petroleum Resources, DPR; Pipelines and Products Marketing Company, PPMC, and Petroleum Products Pricing Regulatory Agency, PPPRA.
“We are worried and disturbed by the scale of the rot in the system, which continues to allow criminal acts to go unpunished, the brazen looting of the treasury to go on unabated, while the constitution of the Federal Republic is routinely violated and breached without consequence,” the group said.
The group accused government of insincerity in its handling of the fuel subsidy fraud, saying all actions so far amounted to motion without movement, as few suspects arraigned in court have since been either granted bails, discharged or charges against them dropped.
“There is no sincerity on the part of the government to pursue the cases to their logical conclusion. Only the board of NNPC has been sent on early retirement, with the retention of the chair of the board, the minister, and no investigation of filing of charges against those retired.
“Fundamentally, no single official has been indicted, investigated or taken to court,” he said.