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Civil Society Group Urges Jonathan to Prosecute Subsidy Thieves

 As part of its advocacy against impunity in oil subsidy regime in Nigeria, the Africa Network for Environment and Economic Justice (ANEEJ), with support from Justice for All (J4A), has urged President Goodluck Jonathan to demonstrate the political will to prosecute all companies and individuals indicted by the Lawan Farouk and Nuhu Ribadu Committees on oil subsidy fraud and corruption.

Rising from a two-day workshop organised in Lagos, where the investigations and prosecution of cases relating to oil subsidy fraud and corruption arising after  the  2012 national protests were reviewed,  ANEEJ, with support from Justice for All (J4A) and a window of funding from the British Department for International Development (DfID), insisted that there should be no shielding of sacred cows by the federal government.

Twenty-two participants drawn from media and civil society attended the workshop, as part of ANEEJ’s advocacy against impunity in oil subsidy regime in Nigeria project.

The meeting 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 PMS, and  the reports of various probe committees of  the government.

At the end of the two-day deliberations, the group also called on the Judiciary to “ 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."

It also charged the Anti-Corruption Agencies (ACAs)  to  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 Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) and the Special Fraud Unit (SFU) of the Nigeria Police should be properly financed and resourced to execute their mandates of thoroughly investigating and prosecution of suspects,” said the group.

ANEEJ and other stakeholders also called on the federal government to 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.

The group noted in a communiqué at the end of the workshop what it called the weaknesses and challenges in the EFCC and the SFU in delivering on their mandate as it relates to oil subsidy fraud/corruption cases.

It also observed weaknesses in the judiciary resulting in slow pace of prosecution of suspects charged to courts and hence no convictions, more than two years after the national protests.

The participants at the workshop expressed worries over the management of funds under Subsidy Reinvestment Programme (SURE-P), saved from fuel subsidy since January 2012 till date.

The group accuses the NNPC and its subsidiaries of poor cooperation 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.
It also decried non availability of details as to how much money recovered as a ratio of what was stolen by the suspects.

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