Government pleads for time to act on subsidy scam report

The Federal Government on Thursday pleaded with Nigerians for patience to enable it act on the recent report of the House of Representatives Ad Hoc Committee on Fuel Subsidy probe, which passed sweeping indictments on various individuals, institutions and groups involved in the operation of the Petroleum Support Fund (PSF).
 
The Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Mohammed Adoke, said though the government is committed to implementing the recommendations contained in the report, it is important that thorough investigations are carried out by relevant law enforcement agencies to avoid abuse of due process and the rule of law.
 
Since the presentation of the report, some individuals and civil society groups have called for the immediate trial and prosecution of the indicted officials, which include all Ministers of Petroleum Resources since 2009 to date as well as their counterparts in the Ministry of Finance and the Office of the Accountant General of the Federation (OAGF).
 
Also recommended for prosecution include the Group Managing Directors of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) for the period and the Chairman and Executive Secretaries of the Petroleum Products Pricing Regulatory Agency (PPPRA), among several others.
 
But, the minister, who reiterated President Goodluck Jonathan’s initial reaction to ensure that all indicted persons would be prosecuted, irrespective of their positions in society, said the government has resolved to be guided by the dictates of the rule of law and due process required in a democracy.
 
Describing the purpose of the probe as “mainly fact-finding”, Mr. Adoke, also pointed out that the resolutions adopted by the lawmakers last week are yet to be transmitted to the Executive, assuring that whenever that is received the relevant law enforcement and anti-corruption agencies would be compelled to commence the process of studying it with a view to gathering the essential ingredients required to sustain criminal charges.
 
“I therefore call on Nigerians who are understandably concerned about the revelations arising from the Fuel Subsidy Probe to be patient and exercise restraint while these difficult, but essential processes, are carried out by appropriate agencies,” the minister said.
 
“As Attorney General of the Federation, I swore to uphold the Constitution, and I am therefore not oblivious of the constitutional responsibility placed on my shoulders to ensure that those who contravene our laws are held accountable through the legal process.”
 
He attributed the failure of the law enforcement agencies to successfully prosecute suspects in criminal cases for want of evidence as a result of the stampede usually associated with the arraignment of suspects, underlining the need for Nigerians to allow the agencies to conduct painstaking investigations that would ultimately satisfy the standard of proof required.
 
“We must accept that the allegations contained in the Subsidy Probe Report deserve serious action on the part of all those with oversight responsibility over the agencies and persons concerned,” he said.
 
He reminded Nigerians that the President had since 2010 already ordered a forensic audit of the accounts of the NNPC with a view to sanitizing the oil sector, apart from other processes that have been put in place to enhance accountability and transparency in the oil sector prior to the commencement of fuel subsidy probe.
 

Urging the people to have faith in the processes already undertaken by the government by patiently awaiting the outcome of the investigations and subsequent prosecutions, he noted that the ultimatum issued by various groups, particularly threats to embark on demonstrations and strike actions would merely compound the problem and divert attention.


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