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Saturday, December 9, 2023

$16 Billion Power Probe: IBB’s Call For OBJ’s Arrest Timely



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The time is now or never, for justice delayed is justice denied. The evil perpetrated by former Nigerian president Chief Olusegun Obasanjo during his eight years reign as Nigerian president is now catching up with him.

The clarion call by Ibrahim Badamasi Babangida, during his 70th birthday anniversary and the press release issued by IBB’s allies represented by Barrister Salisu Mohammed of Civil Society Movement for Justice and Freedom; Comrade Chukwu Nwabueze of Movement for Freedom and Equal Rights and Barrister Abiodun Akanbi of Human Rights Action Network.

Other groups include: Social Rights Advancement Projects led by Comrade Nasiru Dalti; Transparency Network of Nigeria led by Alhaji Saleh Mamman and Good Governance Coalition under Engr. Umar Farouk Al Hassan. All the leaders of the six groups signed the press statement.

published by pmnews for the immediate arrest and prosecution of OBJ is timely owing to the fact that the immunity clause which shielded him from prosecution by the anti-graft agencies is no longer in place, it now behoove on president Jonathan and EFCC-chairperson Farida Waziri to wade in to this grand allegations by revisiting the power probe chaired by Hon Ndudi Elumelu to unravel those culprit who drained our treasury for their personal use.

It is high time the president direct through his AG and Minister of Justice Adoke that the S16-billion dollars power-scam which involved Obasanjo,Agagu and Imoke be re-open and suspects prosecuted including their God-father Chief O Obasanjo. $16 b is a big drain out of Nigerian treasury. With the loot of S16 b Obasanjo, Imoke, Agagu and their co-criminals are living big and jetting round the globe with their wives and children along with cronies. They must be arrested now and be prosecuted.No sacred cows.

According to the report the committee recommended the interrogation of some former and serving public officials by the country’s anti graft agencies for their roles in the power project contracts. Standing out among them are former president Olusegun Obasanjo; the then Governor of Ondo State, Dr Olusegun Agagu; Governor of Cross River state, Mr. Liyel Imoke; Central Bank Governor, Professor Charles Soludo; the Accountant General of the Federation, Alhaji Ibrahim Dankwambo, among others.

The committee in the report expressed the belief that the intervention of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission in the matter would compel the indicted officials and institutions to account for their roles in the award and execution of the multi-billion naira contracts for the Independent Power Projects [NIPPs.]

The panel also indicted the former boss of Power Holding Company of Nigeria [PHCN] a cousin and Special Adviser to President Obasanjo, Mr. Joseph Makoju; proposed a mass purge in PHCN to enhance its performance; and submitted that all the power projects should be reviewed.

Agagu and Imoke, both former ministers in the Ministry of Power and Steel, according to the committee’s findings, awarded contracts to non-existing firms, and must be made to account for their actions.

The panel rejected their explanations on the role they played in the scandal as“unsatisfactory”. It recommended that the indicted persons, if found guilty in the trial the committee recommended, should be barred from holding any public office in future.

In the case of the possible culpability of Obasanjo and the former Minister of State for Energy, Alhaji Abdulhamid Ahmed, the committee was unsparing in its condemnation of the contentious practice of approvingwaivers for some contractors and, in a damning indictment, observed that in view of their alleged roles in the entire projects, Obasanjo and Ahmed should be cited for economic sabotage.

“The committee identified the brains behind waivers of due process on NIPP disbursements. The Justification at that time was to fast-track the completion of the projects. But rather than fact-track or facilitate the completion of the projects as envisaged, waivers of due process became the major plank that facilitated payments to contractors and consultants that have failed to perform, at the expense of the nation and the power industry. These officers need to be thoroughly investigated by the appropriate agencies for economic sabotage to the country,” according to the report.

Referring to Obasanjo, the report said: “In view of the enormity of issues entailed in the findings, it is recommended that former President Olusegun Obasanjo should be called to account for the recklessness in the power sector during his time. The committee recommends that EFCC and the Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences [ICPC] should investigate him.”

On Ahmed, the committee said: “For his patently willful manipulation of Due Process, flagrant abuse of Due Process, gross abuse of financial procedures in the award of contracts and payments, especially during the last few weeks of the Obasanjo administration, exemplified by initiation of requests to the president and procurement of presidential approvals for huge and questionable payments in respect of Papalanto Phase II, Mambila Plateau I, Zungeru Hydro, Omoku expansion, Gabarain Ubie expansion and Egbema expansion [nine additional GE Frame turbines to Rockson International] without due process compliance for contract award and certification for payment.”

“The committee found out that during the tenure of Dr Olusegun Agagu as Minister of Power and Steel, numerous contracts were awarded relying on a letter from the Corporate Affairs Commission [CAC]. at the time of Agagu’s tenure as minister in 2002, the committee found out that some unregistered companies were awarded huge contracts. ..Consequently, there was a prima facie evidence that Agagu awarded contracts without due process. Up till the time of this report, all efforts to the owners of the companies to appear in person before the committee proved abortive. Rather, the committee received some documents containing reports that the companies were registered. The true identities of the owners remained unresolved”.

“In view of the huge amounts involved, the committee recommends that EFCC and ICPC should investigate the allegations with a view to prosecuting anyone found culpable,” the report said on Agagu.

The report equally hit hard on the CBN and the Office of the Accountant-General of the Federation. On the CBN, the report said: “The committee is perturbed by the failure of the CBN Governor to provide information in respect of Letters of Credit opened and where the money involving over one billion dollars had been kept all these years.”

It therefore recommended that “in view of the apparent unwillingness of the CBN to cooperate with the committee in this matter or provide the committee with a proper account of withdrawals from the excess crude account, the balance on the account, where the money in respect of unutilized letters of credit are kept and interest that have accrued thereto, we recommend that the EFCC be invited to investigate the office of Accountant –General of the Federation and the CBN in respect of the above issues relating to Letters of Credit opened.”

Calling for a mass purge at the PHCN, the committee said: “The crass incompetence entrenched at the top echelon of management of the PHCN and NDPHC/NIPP must be addressed decisively and with utmost dispatch. In this respect, it would be absolutely necessary to cleanse the Aegean Stable immediately. The committee recommends intensive and extensive purge at all levels of PHCN and associated agencies.

Charles Audu, A public affairs analyst writes from Lagos


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