May accept written submission
ABUJA— APPARENTLY disturbed by the uproar that greeted the proposed invitation of former President Goodluck Jonathan by the House of Representatives adhoc committee investigating allegations of corruption, malpractices, and breach of due process in the award of oil prospecting licence, OPL 245, also known as Malabu Oil scandal, the House may shelve invitation of the former number one citizen and accept a written submission.
It was gathered, yesterday, that the adhoc committee, led by Razaq Atunwa (APC, Kwara) on a second thought, shelved the idea of summoning Jonathan as this may send wrong signals to different quarters.
Vanguard recalls that Atunwa had, last Thursday, explained that former President Jonathan might be summoned by the committee because fresh facts emanating from court cases on the controversial oil bloc seemed to have implicated the ex-leader.
A source privy to this development, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said members of the committee had a second thought, considering the furore that trailed media reports that Jonathan would be summoned.
He said: “We have reviewed the situation, especially comments from a cross section of opinion leaders and most of us were of the view that we should not heat up the polity. One, the former President has already reacted and denied any dealings with the principal characters in the oil bloc scandal.
“Second, the case is in court, both in Nigeria and outside the country. So we are not out to humiliate or witch hunt anyone, but we just want to gather information that could help in getting to the bottom of this scandal once and for all.”
“What we have resolved now is that we will request the former President to do a paper for us, stating what he knows about the oil bloc and we will work with that. There is no personal interest here but we are only interested in clearing this mess because right now, our country is a laughing stock internationally. It is a shame”
Probed further if the committee was under pressure to drop the invitation, the lawmaker replied: “I will say we are not under pressure but some well-meaning Nigerians have advised and expressed their reservations and we have to reason with them.
“Right now, there is relative calm and peace in the Niger Delta and we do not want anything that may trigger another round of crisis in that part of the country. Times are hard and we need peace for development to thrive.”
Vanguard’s attempts to reach the chairman of the ad hoc committee, Atunwa to confirm the latest development failed as his cell phone was inaccessible.
Atunwa had in a statement last week, said: “The committee is aware of recent information that have come to light, both nationally and internationally, indicating that former President Jonathan may have been complicit in the controversial OPL 245 deal”.
According to Atunwa, these facts have firmly placed former President Goodluck Jonathan on the committee’s radar”.
The lawmaker further explained in the statement that “the committee believes that former President Goodluck Jonathan may well be in a position to assist it with its inquiries.
“Accordingly, the committee is considering inviting him to give evidence before it. An announcement will be made once a formal firm decision is taken on the matter.”
While assuring that the committee intended to be “meticulous, thorough and comprehensive in its inquiry so as to bring about finality to this seemingly intractable matter,” Atunwa also disclosed that the committee was closely monitoring proceedings in Italian courts cases instituted by the public prosecutor of Milan in which ministers in Jonathan’s administration were mentioned, including President Jonathan himself.’’