Home Politics Corruption: Buhari To Revisit Past Probe Panel Reports – Those Indicted May...

Corruption: Buhari To Revisit Past Probe Panel Reports – Those Indicted May Refund Public Funds

President-elect Muhammadu Buhari
President-elect Muhammadu Buhari
President-elect Muhammadu Buhari

The incoming administration of the President-elect, Maj.-Gen. Muhammadu Buhari (retd.), is set to revisit the reports of panels set up by the National Assembly to investigate various financial scandals in Federal Government’s agencies and ministries.

Saturday PUNCH gathered in Abuja, on Friday, that top among reports that the administration would examine include the fuel subsidy and N255m bulletproof cars scam probes by the House of Representatives as well as the pension scandal investigation by the Senate.
It was gathered that Buhari’s pronouncement that he would take another look at the missing $20bn was a precursor to the administration’s desire to retrieve illegally held public funds.

A former Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria, now Emir of Kano, Mohammed Sanusi II, had alleged that the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation did not account for $20bn due to be remitted to the Federation Account.

A competent source close to Buhari, who pleaded for anonymity because he was not authorised to speak to the media, said the general knew that he had limited time within which to turn around the nation, as such, he had no intention of wasting public funds on endless probes.

This, it was gathered, informed a tentative decision by the incoming administration, not to embark on fresh probes, but review reports and recommendations of “compelling” cases handled by the National Assembly.

Also, a top member of the All Progressives Congress, who confided in Saturday PUNCH, said, with the current fuel scarcity, it had become necessary for the administration to examine the fuel subsidy regime.

The APC chieftain said that the administration would find the report of the House of Representatives’ investigation into fuel subsidy in 2012 useful.

He said, “For now, we have decided not to comment on the issues of probes so as not to heat up the transition, but what I can tell you is that we will not encourage the culture of impunity.

“With the fuel scarcity in many parts of the country, the report of the House of Representatives investigation will be among those to be examined. We suspect that there is massive fraud in the fuel subsidy.”

According to him, the incoming administration will not dissipate energy embarking on fresh probes.

He explained that the administration would look at ways of implementing recommendations of panels set up by the National Assembly.

The APC top member stated, “If you recall, during the campaigns, any time he (Buhari) accused the outgoing administration of corrupt tendencies, he made reference to recommendations contained in reports which he said, the Jonathan administration, has shown a lack of political will to implement.

“What you are likely to see happening is a revisit of investigations into scandals such as the missing $20bn, the pension funds and the fuel subsidy. Where reports recommend that individuals refund public funds, these funds must be refunded.

“Where they recommend that individuals or institutions be prosecuted, that will be done.

“The anti-graft agencies will be repositioned to perform the functions for which they were established. It is certainly not going to be business as usual.”

The insider also referred Saturday PUNCH to what the President-elect said about his approach to fighting the scourge of corruption, during his presentation at Chatham House, London, shortly before the elections.

Buhari had during the lecture said, “On corruption, there will be no confusion as to where I stand. Corruption will have no place and the corrupt people will not be appointed into my administration.

“First and foremost, we will plug the holes in the budgetary process. Revenue producing entities such as NNPC and Customs and Excise will have one set of books only.

“Their revenues will be publicly disclosed and regularly audited. The institutions of state dedicated to fighting corruption will be given independence and prosecutorial authority without political interference.”

When contacted, the Director of Media and Publicity of the All Progressives Congress Presidential Campaign Council, Mallam Garba Shehu, said, he was not in a position to comment on policy issues.

He said, “…Even on the issue of the missing $20bn which he (Buhari) was reported to have said he would take a look at, I was not at the event. Our concern now is to ensure a seamless transfer of power.”

Following the nationwide protests that greeted the move by the Jonathan administration to remove fuel subsidy in January 2012, the House of Representatives set up an ad hoc committee which investigated the management of the subsidy regime.

The House in April 2012 approved recommendations of its Ad Hoc Committee on Monitoring of the Subsidy Regime.

Among others, the panel recommended that the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation, the Petroleum Products Pricing and Regulatory Agency and 72 other firms refund N1.07tn said to have been fraudulently paid to oil marketers.

To be part of the refund is also the Office of the Accountant–General, which allegedly paid N127.8bn within 24 hours to unknown beneficiaries. The AGF paid N999m 28 times in one day to the “unknown entities.”

All members of staff of the NNPC, PPPRA and DPR involved in the processing of applications for fuel imports were recommended for investigation for “negligence, collusion and fraud.”

Another report, which Saturday PUNCH gathered would attract the attention of the incoming administration, is the N255m car scam that led to the removal of the Minister of Aviation, Ms. Stella Oduah.

Although the President removed Oduah as recommended by the House, it was gathered that the APC leaders believed that there were other aspects of the report that should be implemented.

Oduah was accused of approving expenditure of over N643m for the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority to procure 54 vehicles.

The House noted that the approval exceeded her limit as approval limit as a minister which was N100m.

The NCAA purchased two bulletproof BMW cars at the cost of N255m without the approval of the National Assembly.

The House further recommended the ministry and the NCAA to terminate all the transactions relating to the bulletproof cars because they “were neither provided for in the Appropriation Act, 2013, nor was due process followed in their procurement.”

In addition to terminating the transactions, the House ordered that “all money so far spent on the entire transactions should be recovered by the Ministry of Finance and paid back into the Consolidated Fund of the Federation.”

The House faulted the diversion of waivers meant for other purposes to import the bulletproof cars and asked the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission to “investigate the chassis number (DW68032) of one of the vehicles on the one reported to have been delivered and the one inspected by the committee members.

It also asked the EYCK to “investigate and if found wanting, prosecute all persons/institutions involved in the transactions.”

Coscharis Nigeria Limited, which supplied the controversial cars, was not left out.

The House directed that the company should be investigated on the “issue of waiver” and also to determine the “exact cost of the two BMW vehicles.”

It also ordered the company to pay the value of the waiver to the Federal Government.

Attempts to get an official reaction from the APC were unsuccessful.

Phone calls to the mobile telephone number of the party’s national publicity secretary, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, were neither picked nor replied. A response to a text message sent to him was still being awaited as of the time of filing this report 8:05pm.

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