ABUJA â€” THE Senate investigation into the alleged utilisation of more than N300 billion in the transportation sector during the administration of former President Olusegun Obasanjo, has recommended the prosecution of thirteen former Ministers of that era for the alleged abuse of the due process mechanism of that administration.
The Senate report indicted seven former Ministers, five former Ministers of State and four permanent secretaries who served in the Obasanjo administration between 1999 and 2007. Besides, a serving Minister, Mrs. Diezani Allison-Madueke, was also indicted and recommended for prosecution for the alleged transfer of N1.2 billion into the private account of a toll company without due process and in breach of concession agreement.
The former Ministers recommended for prosecution include the erstwhile chairman of the Board of Trustees of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and former Minister of Works, Chief Tony Anenih; erstwhile Finance Minister and Chairman of the Presidential re-election committee of the PDP, Mallam Adamu Ciroma, Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, Mrs. Oby Ezekwesili, Senator Adeseye Ogunlewe, Dr. Obafemi Anibaba and Chief Cornelius Adebayo.
The Ministers of State also indicted by the Senate report are Senator Isaiah Balat, Chief Garba Ali Madaki, Ambassador Aderemi Esan, Alhaji Shehu Saleh and Malam Yahaya Abdulkarim.
The four Permanent Secretaries indicted by the Senate panel include Dr. Godwin Odumah, Dr. Ramsey Mowoe, Alhaji Abubakar Umar and Dr. Hakeem Baba-Ahmed.
The Senate panel in its fourth recommendation demanded that Anenih, Madaki, Ogunlewe, Balat and the other former Ministers of Works, Ministers of State and permanent secretaries above â€œwho awarded contracts without budgetary provision in the Appropriation Acts, Designs and Bills of Quantities, be prosecuted for violation of the ICPC Act and other extant laws.”
In its fifth recommendation, the committee deposed that:
â€œThe Honourable Ministers of Finance and the Accountants-General of the Federation and other officials who authorised payments and released funds for the payments of contracts not appropriated by law and or released funds above provisions in the Appropriation Acts, be prosecuted for violation of extant laws. They are: Mallam Adamu Ciroma, Dr. (Mrs.) Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, Mrs. Nenadi Usman, Kayode Naiyeju and Alhaji Mohammed Argungu.”
In its sixth recommendation, the committee stated thus:
â€œThat the Director-General and other officials of the Budget Monitoring and Price Intelligence Unit (now Bureau of Public Procurement) who issued certificates of award and payment for contracts not appropriated by law be prosecuted for violation of extant laws.
They are: Mrs. Obiageli Ezekwezili, Appolonia Okigbo, Prof. Kunle Ade Wahab, Tajudeen Oyawoye and Abimbola Ogunseitan.”
The Senate panel in its eighth recommendation indicting the immediate past Minister of Transportation, Mrs. Allison-Madueke deposed thus:
â€œThat the Honourable Minister of Transportation and the Permanent Secretary who approved and transferred the sum of one billion, two hundred and ten million, five hundred thousand Naira (N1,210,500,000) into private account of Digital Toll Gates Company Limited without due process certification and in violation of the terms of concession agreement be prosecuted and this amount be recovered from this private company.
â€œThey are: Mrs. Diezani Alison-Madueke and Mrs. Amuna Ali.â€
Besides, the committee in its 58 page main report recommended that Dr. Baba-Ahmed, a former permanent secretary in the Ministry of Works be prosecuted for â€œcontract splitting and award of contract to non-existing companies.â€™â€™
The Senate report also recommended that officials of the Federal Ministry of Works in charge of toll collection be made to account for all the proceeds of the toll gates and its utilisation as at the time of its existence from 1999 upwards.
The Senate investigation was upon a motion moved on the Senate floor on April 29, 2008 by Senator Ayogu Eze demanding investigations into the utilisation of more than N300 billion of government funds in the transportation sector during the Obasanjo regime.
The ad-hoc investigative committee which was inaugurated on April 30, 2008 had Senator Heineken Lokpobiri as chairman and the following Senators as members, Patricia Akwashiki, Aloysius Etok, Ayogu Eze, Anthony Manzo, Umar Argungu, Sylvester Anyanwu, Felix Bajumo, Mohammed Jibril, Bala Mohammed, Ayodele Arise and Otaru Ohize.
All but one of the Senators signed the committee report which was submitted to the Senate last Thursday.
Incidentally, the exclusive report by Vanguard of Wednesday October 7, 2009 giving an indication of the indictment of PDP chieftains by the Senate investigations is now the subject of an enquiry by the Senate committee on Ethics. The Senate had upon a motion moved by Senator Nimi Barigha-Amange (PDP, Bayelsa East) demanded an investigation into the leakage of the report before Senate debate on the report.