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Beyond Farouk Lawan Scandal

NOBODY expected the weighty allegations made against fuel importers and their collaborators would have gone without a major reaction. The growing bribery scandal on the committee that turned out that report could just be one of the reactions.

This assertion in no way suggests the allegations are correct or wrong. Did the Lawan committee solicit $3 million from Femi Otedola to doctor the report? Was a part payment made? We do not know. What is before the public are allegations that the committee was compromised.

The logic would be that a report produced in those circumstances would not serve the interests of Nigerians, the unfortunate bearers of the brunt from the mismanagement of national resources.

It is for the accuser to prove his case while the accused proves his innocence.

When we go through these processes, it would be easier to establish what happened and apportion punishments.

However, there is nothing so far in the allegations that should warrant the House of Representatives throwing away the report that detailed the discrepancies and conflicting allocation of public expenditure to importation of fuel. If anything, the allegations mean that the House of Representatives has more work to do in erecting integrity in its members work.

Public perception of the House is important in everything it does. The House should not in self-regulation indulge its members or pander to the wishes of forces that always want things their way.

Scandals are part of the House’s attributes. It is either probing scandals by others or by its members. None of these exercises should prove a distraction.

Are there more allegations of the committee demanding gratification from other organisations? Did those organisations pay? Were the organisations the report indicted those that refused to pay? Did some organisations pay and were still indicted?

These issues – as well as getting to the roots of the propriety of the high cost of importing fuel – should rightly occupy the attention of the House. It would also be crucial for the House to focus on making fuel available at a reasonable cost by clearing the bottlenecks.

Who profits from scandalising the report so that it would not be implemented? What was Mr. Otedola’s motive in offering the bribe, since his companies were not involved in shady deals?

It is unfortunate that the bribery scandal is about to consume the collective efforts of Nigerians last January in protesting the increase in the price of fuel, which resulted in setting up the committee.

The House owes itself and Nigerians a firmer resolution in fully investigating the fuel subsidy report. As for the Lawan committee, the security agencies should apply similar

 


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