CSOs task FG, EFCC, others on fuel subsidy scam

EFCC-LamordeCivil Society Organisations (CSOs) across the country have urged the Federal Government, Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) and the Special Fraud Unit (SFU) of the Nigeria Police, among other anti-corruption agencies, to brace up and tackle the fuel subsidy frauds, which have been lingering in different courts.

The CSOs, which included Nigeria Network of Non-Governmental Organisations (NNNGOs), Socio- Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) and Labour, Health and Human Rights Development Centre (LHHRDC), among others, pointed out that the Anti-Corruption Agencies (ACAs) had not effectively delivered on their mandate of tackling oil subsidy fraud and other corruption cases

The civil society group, at a two-day workshop on ‘monitoring and reporting of oil subsidy fraud and corruption cases in Nigeria,’ which was organised by Africa Network for Environment and Economic Justice (ANEEJ), in conjunction with Justice for All (J4A), a window of funding of Department for International Development (DFID), a United Kingdom government agency, at Rockview Hotel, Apapa, Lagos, called on the ACAs to live up to their responsibilities.

The participants at the workshop, who reviewed the investigations and prosecution of cases relating to oil subsidy fraud and corruption arising from the 2012 national protests that greeted attempt by the Federal Government to completely remove subsidy on fuel and the reports of various probe committees of the Federal Government, urged the National Assembly to revisit the issue of oil subsidy fraud and demand accountability.

According to them, the incessant adjournment of cases, which had resulted in slow pace of prosecution of suspects charged to courts more than two years after the national protests, had hampered the efforts to rid the country of corruption practices.

Participants expressed worries over the management of funds under Subsidy Reinvestment Programme (SURE-P), which had run into billions of dollars saved from fuel subsidy since January 2012 till date.

The Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) and its subsidiaries, the participants pointed out, had been uncooperative in “the release of information to the general public even when sought under the Freedom of Information Act as it relates to oil subsidy fraud and corruption investigation and prosecution since January 2012 till date.”

They stated: “Civil Society and media appear not to have done enough in pushing for more action and holding government to account. Participants decried non-availability of details as to how much money recovered as a ratio of what was stolen by the suspects. There is lack of comprehensive reporting by the Central Bank of Nigeria on recovered monies.”

They called on President Goodluck Jonathan to demonstrate the political will to prosecute all companies and individuals, who were indicted by the Lawan Farouk and Nuhu Ribadu Committees on oil subsidy fraud and corruption, warning that there should not be any shielding of sacred cows by government.

The participants, in the communiqué, which was signed by Mr. Leo Atakpu, Deputy Executive Director of ANEEJ, Mr. Kunle Idowu of NNNGOs, Mrs. Oyindamola Musa –Oseni of SERAP and Mr. Lawal Ibrahim Adebayo of LHHRDC, said: “The Judiciary should expeditiously adjudicate all pending criminal matters relating to oil subsidy fraud/corruption and bring all erring persons to justice as justice delayed is justice denied.

“The Anti-Corruption Agencies (ACAs) should release and make public information on all cases currently going on relating to oil subsidy fraud and corruption. The National Assembly should revisit the issue of oil subsidy fraud/corruption and demand accountability from the executive and judicial arms of government as part of its oversight functions.

“The EFCC and SFU should be properly financed and resourced to execute their mandates of thoroughly investigating and prosecution of suspects. The Federal Government should create a Special Oil and Gas Sector Financial Crimes Unit as recommended by the Nuhu Ribadu Committee as the anti-corruption agencies are not sufficiently equipped to deal with these specialised crimes.

“Civil society and media should be committed to intensify efforts in monitoring and reportage of progress made on oil subsidy fraud and corruption cases and deepen their investigative prowess to expose the seeming cover- ups.

“Galvanize Nigerians to further action by holding government to account on the need to bring all oil subsidy fraud/corruption suspects to justice. Tracking billions of dollars from savings on oil subsidy as a result of increase of pump price to N97 per litre since January 2012 accruing to the Subsidy Re-investment Programme (SURE-P),” they stressed.