(Text of Press Statement by Public Interest Lawyers League-PILL)
Following the conclusion of debate of the whole house of the Federal House of Representative yesterday Wednesday 25th April 2012, it has become imperative to comment on the issues raised by the Report of the House of Representative’s Ad-hoc Committee on Fuel Subsidy. Firstly, we salute the Committee, led by its chairman, Honourable Farouk Lawan, for its pains taken way it went about its business; and more importantly for the courage and patriotism exhibited by its members. We concede that in these days of utter disregard the Nigerian elite classes to the Nigerian project, Farouk and his colleagues have shown us that we still do have patriots in our midst. Their noble efforts surely deserve a place in the annals of our history. We give kudos also to leadership and members of the House of Representatives for treading the path of truth. And through their efforts Nigerians now have grasps of the shenanigans that have gone on in the oil industry. The Fuel Subsidy Report has finally affirmed the suspicion that Nigerians have had over the poor accounting and auditing systems of the Nigerian oil industry. Systems that have allowed individuals, charged with the responsibility of overseeing the industry to steal, to illegally enrich themselves and invariably create poverty out of our people, who ordinarily should enjoy the benefits of a natural resource their country has been endowed by nature. The Report names those individuals, from Deziani Madueke (Minister of Petroleum Resources), Ahmadu Ali, Olusegun Aganga, Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala to retinue of public officers, shady and anonymous as the offices they occupy, who have turned public enterprises into conduits for personal aggrandizement and for the expansion of criminal estates, built with the proceeds of theft of the commonwealth.
That Nigerians can now glean the conspiracies that have been waged against them for years by an elite class whose only contribution to the development oftheir country is the underdevelopment that its members have wrought on all sectors and sections of their country is not the salient issue that come away from this Report. The salient issues are those which revolve around the unmasking of individuals and legal personalities that were, in some cases, hurriedly registered for the purpose (s) of taking advantage of the criminally organised fuel subsidy bazaar, with regulatory agencies within the oil sector as dexteroussupervisors of the theft (the sad and classical case of the gamekeepersturning into poachers) and the poor accounting, auditing and regulatory systems that are in place within the oil sector.
Discipline and Punish
These individuals, legal personalities and regulator have had their time in the shadowy labyrinth and cesspitsof corruption and the time to have their day in the open and hallowed chambers of our Court of law and justice is now. Our Law Enforcement Agenciesand Court must discipline and punish those who are named in the Report, by applying the long hands of the law and justice. The law must not only be applied, justice must also be seen to be administered, without favour, we add.Therefore, the Public Interest Lawyers League (PILL) demands as follows:
- That Mrs Deziani Madueke, Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala and Olusegun Aganga must without delay be relinquished of their positions as Ministers and be tried for their roles in the fuel subsidy scam;
- That all serving and former public officers, individual and companies named in the Report must without delay be charged to court for economic crimes;
- That immediate investigationmust without delay be commenced by the Law Enforcement Agencies to ascertain the complicity of regulatory agencies like the Petroleum Products Pricing and Regulatory Agencies and Corporate Affairs Commission.
Finally, we wish to reiterate our position that we shall make the services of lawyers/members of Public Interest Lawyers League available, free of charge and ex-gratis, to the prosecutorial authorities whenever those individuals named in the Report are brought to justice.
Abdul Mahmud, LL.B, LL.M, BL
President, Public Interest Lawyers League (PILL),
4, Oyo Street, Garki 11