October 6, 2017

$25bn NNPC contract award: PDP, NLC, SERAP, ANEEJ call for Baru’s probe


Group Managing Director of the NNPC, Dr Maikanti Baru

•Presidency must speak out to save anti-graft war — PDP
•Allegations too weighty to be ignored — NLC, SERAP, ANEEJ

By Michael Eboh, Johnbosco Agbakwuru & Dirisu Yakubu
—The Peoples Democratic Party, PDP,  Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project, SERAP, and Africa Network for Environment and Economic Justice, ANEEJ, yesterday called for immediate investigation into the alleged breach of due process in the $25 billion contract award involving the Group Managing Director of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation, NNPC, Dr. Maikanti Baru.

Group Managing Director of the NNPC, Dr Maikanti Baru

Minister of State for Petroleum Resources, Dr. Ibe Kachikwu, had on Tuesday in a letter to President Muhammadu Buhari, accused Baru of awarding contracts totaling $25 billion without the input of the NNPC board, even as he described his conduct as an act of insubordination.

Presidency must speak out to save antigraft war — PDP

Reacting to the development, the PDP in a statement by its National Publicity Secretary, Prince Dayo Adeyeye, called for the immediate commencement of investigation into the allegations, saying President Buhari should, without further delay, demonstrate his anti-corruption credentials by speaking up on the alleged scam.

The statement read: “The Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, wishes to express our shock at the loud silence of President Muhammadu Buhari on the alleged insubordination and other illegalities currently being exposed at the nation’s cash cow, the NNPC, in which two of his henchmen, the Minister of State for Petroleum, Ibe Kachikwu and the Group Managing Director of the NNPC, Maikanti Baru, are the dramatis personae.

“As a political party, we expect that the President, who prides himself as an indefatigable corruption fighter, would for once try to live above board, by genuinely allowing one of his own, accused of insubordination and subversion of due process, get properly investigated and prosecuted as a show of his impartiality in the war against corruption.

“He should do this to correct the open impression Nigerians have about his so-called anti-corruption war; that it’s just a tool of persecution of perceived enemies.’’

The party warned against any official cover up, adding that Baru’s alleged misdeeds must be probed to prove his innocence or otherwise.

“We view the allegations levelled against Baru by Kachikwu as too grave to be swept under the carpet and we insist that the NNPC GMD must be treated like an accused who should not have the opportunity to influence investigation into his alleged misdeeds.

“We demand an immediate suspension of the NNPC GMD so that proper investigation can be carried out by the relevant anti-corruption agencies,” it stated. The party said it appeared President Buhari by his silence, was shielding the NNPC boss in a manner similar to the case of one of his trusted officials some few months ago.

The statement continued: “Ordinarily, if there was sincerity in the anti-corruption war, President Muhammadu Buhari should not have waited for any prompting before he takes a decisive action on this matter, but as customary with his administration, we suspect that he’s trying to shield Baru as he did for Babachir Lawal, the Secretary to the Government of the Federation, SGF, who he merely suspended to allow the hullabaloo generated by the fraud perpetrated in the management of the emergency fund for the IDPs, die down.

‘’Also up till now, we have never heard anything again about the millions of dollars and billions of naira discovered at an Ikoyi apartment.

“We have been saying this for months that the diversion of the nation’s resources under this administration is record setting in the history of this nation and we are being proven right on daily basis by the little revelations that are being made by even those working under the administration.

“We wonder what the stench will be when the real and hidden atrocities being perpetrated under the watch of President Buhari are finally exposed when Nigerians throw the APC government out of power in 2019.

“The sum of $25 Billion said to have been the subject of the latest controversy, when converted to naira is about N9 Trillion, a sum that is bigger than the nation’s annual budget.

“Much as we commend the National Assembly for indicating interest in probing the allegations against the NNPC GMD as approved in the adoption of the motion moved by Senator Samuel Anyanwu at Wednesday’s plenary, we wish to appeal to the leadership of the Senate to prevail on the Ad-hoc committee set up for the purpose of the investigation, to make their sitting open to all Nigerians so that nothing will be surreptitiously swept under the carpet.”

Allegations against Baru should be investigated —NLC

The organised labour, yesterday, told the Federal Government to investigate the allegation of insubordination and non compliance with due process leveled against the Group Managing Director, GMD, of the Nigeria National Petroleum Corporation, NNPC, Maikanti Baru by the Minister of State for Petroleum Resources, Dr. Ibe Kachikwu.

The National President of Nigeria Labour Congress, NLC, Comrade Ayuba Wabba, who stated this in an interview with journalists in Abuja, said the problem of the country had always been the issue of governance.

He said: “The issue is under some investigation and I think there should be an opportunity to interrogate the process and at the end of the day, let us know the veracity and facts of the issue.

‘’We have made this issue quite clear and loud that part of our challenge is how we are able to imbibe the process of good governance, transparency and accountability.

“Some of the issues bother on this critical idea of ensuring that there is good governance in place. Our hope is that this issue will be thoroughly investigated and concluded.

“At the end of the day. Let us hear what the issues are as well as the fact of the matter. Once we get the facts, we will then be able to make conclusion.”

Probe Baru — SERAP

Reacting in a similar manner, yesterday, Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project, SERAP, urged President Buhari to probe the Group Managing Director Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation, NNPC, Maikanti Baru, over the $25 billion contract allegedly awarded without due process.

In a letter signed by its executive director, Adetokunbo Mumuni, the group urged President Buhari to “urgently refer the allegations of abuse of office against Mr. Baru to the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, and the Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission, ICPC, for investigation.

The group said if there was relevant and sufficient admissible evidence for him to face prosecution, the government should not hesitate to do so.

It also urged the President to “suspend Mr. Baru, pending the referral to the EFCC and ICPC, and the outcome of any investigation by the anti-corruption agencies in order not to create the impression that his government was treating Mr Baru as a sacred cow.

SERAP said:  “We urge you not to allow the allegations against Mr. Baru go the way of past inconclusive investigations of allegations of abuse of office within the NNPC.

“If left unaddressed, the allegations by Dr Kachikwu have the potential of undermining your government’s expressed commitment to returning Nigeria to the path of transparency and accountability.”

ANEEJ seeks forensic audit of allegations

In its reaction, Africa Network for Environment and Economic Justice, ANEEJ, a civil society organization, called on President Buhari to immediately order the Nigeria Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative, NEITI, to conduct a comprehensive and forensic audit of the various allegations levelled against the NNPC boss by the Petroleum Minister.

In a statement in Abuja, ANEEJ also urged the National Assembly to, as a matter of urgency, pass the Petroleum Industry Governance Bill, to nip in the bud further confusion generated by the rift between Kachikwu and Baru.

Executive Director of ANEEJ, Mr. David Ugolor, warned that the lofty plan of the Direct Sale, Direct Purchase agreement was in jeopardy, if all the contracts awarded and the companies that got the contracts were not subjected to thorough vetting and investigations by both the Senate and NEITI.

Ugolor said: “Since the Senate has waded into the matter, we suggest that Mr. President as well must invite NEITI to carry out a comprehensive and forensic audit of the allegations. Among statutory functions of the NEITI include the regulation of matters related to due process in the award of contracts in the extractive sector of the Nigerian economy.”

“We believe that the inconsistencies being thrown up by the startling revelations from the Minister of State for Petroleum Resources include some of the issues which the Petroleum Industry Governance Bill seeks to address and redress.”

He said ANEEJ anticipated the rift between the NNPC boss and the minister, adding that explained the reason it wrote an online petition on the need to accelerate the passage of the Bill.

Ugolor noted that the present administration had since inception, defined itself first through its corruption stance, and more by the reforms it had introduced in the oil sector.