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Oil subsidy report: Court stops FG from prosecuting indicted company

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Written by Tunde Adesina, Abuja, with Agency Report

A Federal High Court sitting in Abuja on Wednesday stopped the Attorney-General of the Federation (AGF) and Minister of Justice from prosecuting one of the companies indicted by the Farouk Lawan ad hoc committee on fuel subsidy probe.

The indicted company, Integrated Oil and Gas Limited, had dragged the AGF and five others before the court to stop them from prosecuting it.

Meanwhile, the trial judge, Justice Gladys Olotu granted the interim order after counsel in the matter agreed that nothing will be done with the company in respect of the report until the case before the court is determined.

After the report was submitted to the president, it was given to the AGF to look at and do further investigation and make appropriate recommendation.

But immediately the report was sent to the AGF by the president, the company dragged the AGF, the House of Representatives, Honourable Farouk Lawan, the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, the Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission (ICPC) and the Inspector General of Police (IGP) to court to challenge the report.

The Lawan committee had recommended the indicted companies for prosecution.

The committee had in its report asked Integrated Oil and Gas to refund N13. 2 billion subsidy refunds paid to it by the Federal Government for petroleum products it imported between 2006 and 2011 on the grounds that the amount was not sustainable.

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The company was dissatisfied and had through its counsel, Tayo Oyetibo, SAN instituted the suit seeking, among others, to nullify the committee’s report because it was not given fair hearing before the committee came to its conclusion.

The company, therefore, asked the court for an interlocutory injunction restraining the Attorney-General of the Federation from acting on the report.

In the motion on notice brought pursuant to order 26 rule 2 and other 28 rule 1 of the Federal High Court (civil procedure) ruled 2009 and the inherent jurisdiction of the court, the plaintiff asked for an order of interlocutory injunction restraining the 3rd to 6th defendants or respondents, whether by themselves, their servants, agents and or representatives from acting or continuing to act on the report of the House of Representatives ad hoc committee on the monitoring of the subsidy regime, which was confirmed by the resolution of the 1st defendant or respondent passed on Wednesday, April 25, 2012 adopting and or approving the said report, in so far as the report affected the plaintiff or applicant pending the hearing and the determination of the substantive suit.

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Meanwhile, the House of Representatives, on Wednesday, emphasised its commitment to expose corruption in the country, in spite of the fuel subsidy scandal.

Honourable Zakari Mohammed, chairman, House Committee on Media and Public Affairs, said this at a news conference.

“In spite of the problem that has characterised the fuel subsidy probe, the House will continue to expose corruption.

“We will never take side with corruption, we, as Nigerians and Representatives of the people, will ensure that corrupt people do not go free.”

Mohammed called on relevant agencies of government to implement the report of the House in respect of the fuel subsidy probe.

“As a House, we are urging relevant bodies to expedite action on the report. Subsidy report is sacrosanct and should be implemented to the fullest,” he said.

He said the alleged bribery scandal and subsequent reactions were deliberate to rubbish the report put together by the ad hoc committee on subsidy regime, adding that the House had no issues with Mr Femi Otedola.

“I want to correct that impression. We have no issue with Otedola. At no point in time did Mr Otedola come on trial with us, he was supposed to come as a witness,” he said.

Source: Tribune

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