‘Non-prosecution of oil thieves harms economy’

Attorney-General-of-the-Federation-and-Minister-of-Justice-Mohammed-Bello-Adoke-SAN-360x240A civil rights organisation, Africa Network for the Environment and Economic Justice, has asked President Goodluck Jonathan to show courage by bringing to justice all suspects involved in the oil subsidy theft, irrespective of their religious, political and ethnic cleavages.

According to ANEEJ, the government must immediately resume and fast-track the prosecution of individuals and groups involved in the massive oil subsidy fraud, as the lack of political will to resolve the controversy was “doing great harm to the economy.”

ANEEJ also asked the judiciary and the Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Mr. Mohammed Bello Adoke (SAN), to ensure that all cases of oil subsidy fraud were expeditiously adjudicated upon and concluded to ensure that justice was not only done but seen to have been done.

The Executive Director of ANEEJ, Rev. David Ugolor, who said this during a press briefing on Tuesday in Abuja, said the Federal Government should adequately fund anti-corruption agencies for them to discharge their duties creditably without fear or favour.

He said the government needed to also provide the agencies with necessary trainings to equip them with the latest skills and knowledge in the investigation and prosecution of suspects involved in financial crimes and oil theft.

He expressed concern that whereas the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, the Special Fraud Unit of the Nigeria Police Force and the judiciary had crucial roles to play in curtailing corruption in the country, such agencies remained underfunded in the investigations of persons who were in custody over alleged involvement in oil subsidy theft amounting to billions of dollars.

Ugolor said, “The Aigboje Aig-Imoukhuede Presidential Committee had identified about 50 organisations for investigation and arraignment. There were high-profile names listed for investigations and prosecution.

“Sadly, two and a half years down the road, not a single suspect has been fully prosecuted and brought to justice. The protests, cries and wishes of Nigerians for the government to get it right with fuel subsidy crimes stands too slow and unresolved.

“The federal AGF, the EFCC as well as the SFU of the Nigeria Police Force and the nation’s judiciary have very crucial roles to play. We want President Jonathan to demonstrate sufficient political will to bring all oil subsidy fraud/corruption suspects, irrespective of their political parties, colour, religion and creed, to justice.

“The President should adequately fund the EFCC and SFU to discharge their duties creditably without fear or favour. He should also provide them with trainings to equip them with latest skills and knowledge to investigate and prosecute financial crime cases in the oil and gas sector.”

While advising the civil society organisations to “stand to be counted in resisting impunity in oil subsidy fraud/ corruption in Nigeria, the activist also urged the President to stop the politicisation of the Rivers State Judiciary and ensure that a bad precedence was not laid in the nation’s judicial history because of its dire consequences on the nation’s democracy.”