President Goodluck Jonathan has said the need to strengthen the ongoing reforms and transformation of the nation's petroleum sector prompted him to remove the former group managing director of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC), Engr. Austen Oniwon, along with other members of his management team.
Jonathan, who made this known in a statement signed by his special adviser on media and publicity, Dr. Reuben Abati, also said the move was to achieve transparency and accountability in the sector.
In a statement titled "Corruption in fuel subsidy administration: The guilty will not go unpunished," Jonathan further stated that oil firms and individuals indicted over the fuel subsidy probe would be prosecuted.
Speaking on why the president restructured the NNPC, the statement said: "It is also noteworthy that to strengthen ongoing reforms and transformation of Nigeria's Petroleum sector, and in furtherance of efforts to achieve greater transparency and accountability in government, President Jonathan recently approved the re-composition of the executive management team of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC)."
On reports that his administration was not doing enough to curb official corruption, he pointed out that his government has put machinery in place to ensure that corrupt officials were made to face the law
While calling on Nigerians to be patient with his administration on the probe of the petroleum sector, Jonathan reiterated his earlier assurance that anyone found guilty in the probe would bear the full weight of the law.
The release states: "The presidency has noted with concern recent reports, comments and agitations aimed at creating totally false impression that the Jonathan administration is not doing enough to curb corruption in Nigeria.
"President Jonathan wishes to reaffirm, once again, that there will be no sacred cows in the matter and that any organisation or individual found guilty of fraud or corruption will ultimately face the full weight of sanctions prescribed by the extant laws of the country.
"The report of the House of Representatives ad-hoc committee on fuel subsidies has already been referred by the president to the EFCC through the minister of justice and attorney-general of the federation.
"In compliance with the president's clear and unequivocal directives, the EFCC is currently undertaking a thorough and painstaking investigation of all indictments made by the committee with a view to establishing water-tight cases that will be taken before courts of competent jurisdiction as quickly as possible.
The release also revealed that the report of the committee to verify fuel subsidy payments headed by Mr. Aigboje Aig-Imoukhuede has been received and is being expeditiously reviewed.
The president said he remained fully committed to the diligent and effective implementation of his administration's agenda for national transformation and the eradication of official corruption which, he said, would not promote the attainment of the stated goals of his administration.