8 November 2012

Nigeria: Okonjo-Iweala - Indicted Marketers Behind Demonstration By Melaye's Group

Photo: Vanguard
Cartoon depict corruption in the Nigerian petroleum sector

The Coordinating Minister for the Economy and Minister of Finance, Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, Wednesday said indicted oil marketers were behind the demonstration embarked upon by a former member of the House of Representatives and Executive Secretary of a civil society group, Anti-Corruption Network, Mr. Dino Melaye.

Okonjo-Iweala said no amount of intimidation or harrassment will make her do what is not proper to the country.

Melaye had led a group of demonstrators to the ministry yesterday afternoon.

A statement issued by the Mr. Paul Nwabuikwu, Senior Special Assistant to the minister, alleged that the ministry had established concrete evidence that the demonstration was sponsored by indicted oil marketers

"We have it on good authority that Melaye's group was sponsored by some of the indicted oil barons who are currently being investigated and prosecuted for subsidy fraud. Their allegation to wrong subsidy payments made by the Ministry is a mere ruse to conceal their true motives.

"It is important to note that the Federal Ministry of Finance does not pay any contractor directly. The relevant ministries do. So this allegation by Melaye and his group is completely wrong and without foundation.

"Also, whenever its statutory mandate requires that it makes any payments, the Ministry follows strict payment procedures, and only pays when there is appropriate documentation from relevant agencies," the statement added.

The demonstration, the statement stressed, "was ostensibly to call for the resignation of the Coordinating Minister for the Economy and Minister of Finance who is well known for fighting the fraudulent oil barons whose names were published by the Ministry for various breaches of the subsidy regime."

According to the statement, Nigerians were not deceived by the antics of Melaye, "who has no known pedigree as a civil society activist or even a reputation for honour or common decency."

"When asked by the Ministry's Permanent Secretary, Mr. Danladi Kifasi, to submit a written statement, Melaye said that they did not come with any. This gives an indication of the level of seriousness of the effort.

"Curiously, Melaye and his cohorts, in making their frivolous allegations, did not mention the fact that the Federal Ministry of Finance under the leadership of Dr Okonjo-Iweala took the unprecedented step of publishing the names of 25 companies which were investigated by the Aig-Imoukhuede Committee for various breaches of the subsidy regime," the ministry added.

"They also neglected to say that many of the indicted marketers are currently undergoing interrogation and prosecution. As a direct result of the Ministry's efforts against corruption in the subsidy regime and tighter procedures, the nation has saved billions of naira that would otherwise have gone to corrupt marketers.

"The Federal Ministry of Finance stands steadfast in its resolve to fight against corruption and manage the finances of the country in the best interest of the Nigerian people," it stated.

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