Jonathan lambasts House of Representatives over Alison-Madueke’s jet probe

President Goodluck Jonathan

Mr. Jonathan says the minister has done nothing wrong.

President Goodluck Jonathan launched a rare public defence of the petroleum minister, Diezani Alison-Madueke, Sunday, attacking the House of Representatives for investigating the minister over allegations of wasting at least N10 billion of public funds on hiring private jets.

Ms. Alison-Madueke has emerged the most controversial member of Mr. Jonathan’s cabinet.

At least five reports have found the minister responsible for either mismanaging the petroleum sector or corrupt acts. Some of the reports have recommended the minister’s sack.

One of the biggest scandals at the petroleum ministry under Ms. Alison-Madueke was the petrol subsidy scam in 2012 involving government’s spending of more than N2 trillion as fuel subsidy when the actual cost was less than N500 billion.

Several investigations have found how government officials in the regulatory offices connived with rogue marketers to collect trillions of fuel subsidy without importing fuel as required.

There is currently the allegation of missing $20 billion oil revenue meant for the government, from the coffers of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation, NNPC.

On Sunday, Mr. Jonathan denied that sum was missing.

On the jet scandal, lawmakers say there are evidences the minister has been spending government funds flying on chartered planes for private reasons.

Ms. Alison-Madueke has refused to appear before the House’s investigating committee and has launched a legal suit to stop the probe.

Despite past probes and recommendations, Mr. Jonathan has brushed aside all recommendations to fire Ms. Alison-Madueke.

But Sunday, Mr. Jonathan took to an unusual public defence of the minister and accused the lawmakers of witch-hunting her.

He also claimed ignorance of the minister’s lawsuit against the House of Representatives.

Mr. Jonathan said the minister was right not to attend the House’s summons as she has appeared more than 200 days since her appointment.

“The Ministry of Petroleum has always been using jets,” he said, adding however that his government is looking into allegations of fraud in the jet hiring.

Carpeting the lawmakers, the president remarked that “There is more of politics than work in the House of Representatives.” He also warned that the nation risks “parliamentary dictatorship”.

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