29 July 2012

Nigeria: On EFCC and Fuel Subsidy Scam Suspects


One of the most significant steps the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) has taken of late was the prosecution of the children of highly placed chieftains of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) for their alleged involvement in the fuel subsidy scandal.

Perhaps, more than anything, it clears doubts that the EFCC would sweep under the carpet the hard work of the House of Representatives'ad hoc committee of fuel subsidy. Many had suspected that with the diatribe between Hon Farouk Lawan and Chief Femi Otedola over the $620,000 bribery saga, those in power would have found the convenient excuse to dump the report.

However, it is not yet Uhuru. Indications from the courts showed that the Attorney-General of the Federal and Minister of Justice, Mohammed Adoke (SAN), was consistently absent at the hearings. This has come as a shock to Nigerians because the probe of the subsidy scandal and prosecution of suspects will boost the image of the current administration. With the Farouk Lawan report that threw up a lot of issues, the outlook of the Jonathan administration, as being able to fight corruption nose-dived. Many million Nigerians suspected that government was in bed with oil thieves, and would therefore be reluctant to prosecute them.

With the attitude of the AGF, there are fears that government is not committed to the prosecution, and in a matter of days, the most shameful thing in Nigeria's history will take place - judges will say the prosecution did not have enough proof with which they would find the suspects guilty. We have not forgotten the issue of former governor of Delta State, Chief James Ibori. The man who was not found guilty by Nigerian judges was described as a common criminal in a court in the United Kingdom. He has been jailed and many of his assets confiscated. Recently, a United States court ruled on his case and declared that he would lose asset worth over $3 million. These rulings are a big slap on the face of the Nigerian judiciary.

It will be disappointing if after the hype about the fuel subsidy scam, the Mallam Ibrahim Lamurde's anti-graft agency does not have enough evidence to jail these suspects. A thorough job would entail that the claims that these persons collected subsidy funds without importing fuel, and all the evidence in this regard, are provided. With what has happened in several cases taken to court by the EFCC, including the shameful Halliburton case where the court said EFCC had no evidence to nail those who received the bribes, there is still apprehension among Nigerians that anything is still possible in the fuel subsidy scam case. If the EFCC presents a weak case and gives judges the opportunity to strike out the cases for lack of evidence, Nigerians will be totally disappointed. Mallam Lamurde's credibility is at stake with the subsidy scam case. We hope he will live up to the expectations of Nigerians.

From Emmanuel Adogo, Federal Housing Estate, Lugbe, Abuja.

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