Some Ahmadu Bello University lecturers have challenged President Goodluck Jonathan to allow prosecution and jailing of all those indicted in the fuel subsidy scam, as well as the immediate reversal of the price of fuel to N65 per liter.

The lecturers made their demands in a press release sent to SaharaReporters today, in which they noted that it has been established beyond doubt that corruption was fundamentally responsible for the huge subsidy payments that were used by the federal government as justification for the reckless and inhuman fuel price increase in January.

The challenge of the university dons is publicly addressed to the EFCC, ICPC, the Code of Conduct Bureau, the Nigeria Police Force, the Judiciary and relevant state agencies for action.

Expressing their “shock, profound indignation and total condemnation of all individuals, corporate firms and government agencies or departments that connived to defraud the government and people of Nigeria of hundreds of billions between 2009 and 2011 in the name of fuel subsidy claims,” they noted that the “despicable and ungodly” act has visited incalculable damage on the Nigerian economy, threatening the survival of millions of our countrymen and pushing Nigeria to the edge of near moral and financial bankruptcy.

The lecturers, who said they collectively decided they could not afford the luxury of remaining silent on a matter which endangers the survival of the country, drew attention to several issues, including:
 
•    The desperate attempts made by some indicted firms, individuals and their cronies, to whitewash the report of the House of Representatives Committee on the fuel subsidy fraud by labeling it as “mere allegations” or “unsubstantiated claims”;

•    That the allegation of corrupt payments under the guise of fuel subsidy was first made, among others, by organized Labour, civil society groups, NGO’s, professionals and patriotic individuals opposed to the sudden and punitive increase in the price of fuel in January 2012;

•    That the ad hoc House of Representatives investigation committee under Honourable Farouk Lawan has established a clear and unambiguous prima fade case of corruption and fraud against those indicted in it, and that the fuel subsidy swindle is one of the most shocking incidences of public rip-off in Nigeria since independence.
 
They demanded the urgent and decisive prosecution of all Board members, Chief Executives and relevant officials of the NNPC, PPPRA, PPMC and DPR involved in the processing of applications by importers, verification, confirmation and payment of subsidy, as contained in the Committee’s report.

“By ‘urgent and decisive,’ we mean the commencement of a fearless trial of all those involved, no matter how mighty or highly placed, within the next four weeks,” they said.  “There should be no sacred cows this time around and all the actors must be charged before a competent court of law for negligence, collusion and fraud as recommended by the Report.”
 
They stressed that it is not enough to compel the 15 firms that obtained $402,6 million as forex and refused to import the fuel meant for it to make refunds. “We demand that they, like the 17 other companies that collected N41.9 billion as subsidy without importing fuel, should be prosecuted for criminal intent and the revocation of their operation licenses after conviction in addition to making refunds.”

Such prosecution, they said, is necessary in order to deter future offenders.
 
They further demanded that those responsible for the payment of the sum of N999 million 128 times within twenty four hours should be investigated thoroughly and be prosecuted in a court of law to serve as a deterrent to others in the future.

“We disagree with the House of Representatives for hastily exonerating the former Accountant General on Tuesday, 23 April 2012 because of a mere letter he wrote to the House on the matter,” they said.  “His role in those particular payments and other transactions should be thoroughly investigated.”

Today’s statement by the university lecturers is a significant throwback to the days when university campuses across the country provided intellectual leadership not only within the institutions of learning, but outside them as well.  

The intervention by the concerned lecturers at ABU is an indication of the continuing restlessness in segments of Nigerian society over the on the fuel subsidy scam and the federal government’s apparent reluctance to provide patriotic leadership and punish the offenders.  

[Full text of the press statement]:

 
CONCERNED LECTURERS
AHMADU BELLO UNIVERSITY, ZARIA
 
 
DEMAND FOR URGENT AND DECISIVE PROSECUTION OF LOOTERS OF THE PETROLEUM SUBSIDY FUND
 
We, the undersigned lecturers of Ahmadu Bello University, being free-born citizens of the Federal Republic of Nigeria and parents/guardians of present and future generations of Nigerians, hereby express our shock, profound indignation and total condemnation of all individuals, corporate firms and government agencies or departments that connived to defraud the government and people of Nigeria of hundreds of billions between 2009 and 2011 in the name of fuel subsidy claims. This despicable and ungodly act has visited incalculable damage on the Nigerian economy, threatening the survival of millions of our countrymen and pushing our nation to the edge of near moral and financial bankruptcy. We, as concerned citizens of this country, have collectively decided that we cannot afford the luxury of remaining silent on a matter which endangers the survival of our country. As a result, we wish to state as follows:
 
1.      The desperate attempts made by some indicted firms, individuals and their cronies, to whitewash the report of the House of Representatives Committee on the fuel subsidy fraud by labeling it as “mere allegations” or “unsubstantiated claims” in order to water down its content and free the culprits is bound to result in failure. This is because the findings of the Committee are the outcome of painstaking investigations that lasted several months.
 
2.      The allegation of corrupt payments under the guise of fuel subsidy was first made, among others, by organized Labour, civil society groups, NGO’s, professionals and patriotic individuals opposed to the sudden and punitive increase in the price of fuel in January 2012. They rightly blamed the huge payments claimed to have been made by government as subsidy on “unbridled corruption” and “inefficient and wasteful processes” and urged FGN to thoroughly investigate the matter.
 
3.      The House of Representatives patriotically responded to the call by convening an Emergency Session on 8th January 2012, and the result of its extensive deliberations was the constitution of the ad hoc investigation committee under Honourable Farouk Lawan. The Committee was mandated to investigate all issues related to fuel subsidy payments made between 2009 and 2011, and report same to the House for consideration.
 
4.      The House Committee sat down for business almost immediately, invited all affected firms, agencies and individuals, held public hearings for 23 days, received 3000 volumes of documents, admitted 130 witnesses and employed the professional services of the Lloyds of London for verification of transactions. The result was the 208 page report that was presented to the House of Representatives on Wednesday, 18th April and which is now the subject of public discourse. How can any right thinking person describe the findings as “lousy” or a “mere allegation.”?
 
5.      The fact of the matter is simple and straight forward. The House Committee report in question has established a clear and unambiguous prima fade case of corruption and fraud against those indicted in it. No amount of propaganda or blackmail can reverse or deny this. The fuel subsidy swindle is one of the most shocking incidences of public rip-off in Nigeria since independence, exceeding the celebrated Cement Racket of 1975 in its monstrosity. Anyone who is in doubt should pause and consider a few of the facts below.
 
6.      The House Committee established that the amount paid out as subsidy increased from N261.1 billion (2006), N278.8 (2007), N346.7 billion (2008), and to a whopping N847.9 billion in 2011. The total for the period 2006 - 2011 is a colossal N2.5 trillion, almost doubling the contradictory figures provided by CBN (N1.6 trillion) and by the office of the Accountant General (N1.7 trillion). This astronomical amount of N2.5 trillion is 900% more than what was legally appropriated as subsidy by the National Assembly, which amounts to a violation of the Nigerian Constitution.
 
7.      The crude and arbitrary operations of the PPPRA can be seen in how its Executive Secretary (2009 - February 2011), unilaterally revised the guidelines for fuel import and subsidy claims earlier approved by the Board, and granted fuel import approvals/allocations to 35 companies even before their formal registration with the PPPRA. To make matters worse, a large part of such import allocation was given to companies that lacked the required competence, expertise or storage facilities. In addition, the PPPRA paid itself N312.2 billion, an amount that was far in excess of the administrative charges due to it between 2009 and 2010.
 
8.      On its part, the PPMC, in addition to several lapses and abuses, failed to provide the House Committee with the retail market price of kerosene, for which the Managing Director should be held responsible. In addition, the CBN and the Federal Ministry of Finance issued circulars that prevented the Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA) and Nigeria Customs Service (NCS) from carrying out their statutory functions, which should be withdrawn with immediate effect.
 
9.      On the whole, we demand for urgent and decisive prosecution of all Board members, Chief Executives and relevant officials of the NNPC, PPPRA, PPMC and DPR involved in the processing of applications by importers, verification, confirmation and payment of subsidy, as contained in the Committee’s report. By “urgent and decisive,” we mean the commencement of a fearless trial of all those involved, no matter how mighty or highly placed, within the next four weeks. There should be no sacred cows this time around and all the actors must be charged before a competent court of law for negligence, collusion and fraud as recommended by the Report.
 
10.    We uphold the view that it is not enough to compel the 15 firms that obtained $402,6 million as forex and refused to import the fuel meant for it to make refunds. We demand that they, like the 17 other companies that collected N41.9 billion as subsidy without importing fuel, should be prosecuted for criminal intent and the revocation of their operation licenses after conviction in
addition to making refunds. Such prosecution is necessary in order to deter future offenders.
 
11.    Those responsible for the payment of the sum of N999 million 128 times within twenty four hours should be investigated thoroughly and be prosecuted in a court of law to serve as a deterrent to others in the future. We disagree with the House of Representatives for hastily exonerating the former Accountant General on Tuesday, 23 April 2012 because of a mere letter he wrote to the House on the matter. His role in those particular payments and other transactions should be thoroughly investigated.
 
12.    In addition, oil companies and government agencies that refused to honour invitations to appear/submit memo to the House Committee should not be left unpunished. In particular, the Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA) should be investigated for: a) failure to provide IMO numbers and vital vessel data to the House Committee; b) possible connivance with fraudulent fuel importers and; c) possible deliberate and wrong “classification of maritime areas for reception of Nigerian bound petroleum products.”
 
13.    We demand that drastic actions should be taken against the NNPC, PPMC, PPPRP and other agencies for aiding/abetting the massive theft and for transforming themselves into a government within government. The Report established that the NNPC made direct deductions from funds meant for the Federation Account in violation of section 162 of the Nigerian Constitution. Such deductions were made up of N30.4 billion as a so-called subsidy for kerosene and N285.0 billion in excess of PPRA recommended subsidy claims. This was beside the illegal and reduced price purchase of crude oil granted to itself to the tune of N108.6 billion between 2009 and 2011. No wonder the “NNPC was not accountable to anybody or authority,” as the Committee asserted.
 
14.    It has now been established beyond doubt that corruption was fundamentally responsible for the huge subsidy payments, used by FGN as justification for the reckless and inhuman fuel price increase in January. We, therefore, demand the immediate reversal of the price to N65 per liter. In addition, we are demanding the urgent and decisive prosecution of the firms, agencies and individuals, mentioned in the report as being responsible for the fraud. This demand is hereby publicly forwarded to the EFCC, ICPC, Code of Conduct Bureau, the Nigeria Police Force, the Judiciary and relevant state agencies for necessary action.
 
15.    Finally, we call upon President Goodluck Jonathan to go beyond rhetoric and march his words with action. Now is the time for him to come out more clearly either on the side of the corrupt or on the side of probity and accountability by ensuring that decisive action is taken against the plunderers. If the above demands are not met within a reasonable period of time and the House Committee Report is allowed to suffer the fate of previous reports, we reserve the right as citizens of this country to explore alternative ways of getting justice to the long suffering people of our country.
 
Dr. Rabiu Nasiru
Dr. Sadiq Umar
Dr. Yusuf A. Ahmed
Dr. Tajudeen Surakat
Dr. Usman Ladan
Dr. Samaila Dakyes
Dr. M.L.Amin
Dr. A.R. Sanusi
Dr. Saleh Ado
Dr. Sani Sambo
Dr. M.K. Othman
Dr. Saad A. Ahmed
Dr. Halidu Hamza
Dr. A.A. Lawal
Dr. Hamza Mani
Dr. Almustapha A. Liman

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