By Sebastine Obasi & Prince Okafor
Former Finance Minister, Mrs. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, has alleged that there was a plan by oil importers and marketers to confine her to a wheelchair and force her out of office during the time she served under ex-President Goodluck Jonathan.
But in a swift reaction, yesterday, the marketers under the aegis of Depot and Petroleum Products Marketers Association, DAPPMA, dared her to prove the allegation.
However, according to Okonjo-Iweala, a friend to one of her brothers attended a meeting where the discussion held. She said the friend advised her brother that security should be beefed up around her.
Okonjo-Iweala revealed this in her book entitled: ‘Fighting Corruption is Dangerous: The Story Behind the Headlines.’
She said: “My mother’s ordeal was not the end of frightening events that occurred in late 2012 and early 2013. A few months after my mother’s escape, I had just wrapped up a meeting late one afternoon when my cellphone rang. It was again my brother, Onyeama.
“My first thought was that something else had gone wrong in the family. He frantically asked me, ‘where are you, where are you?’ I was surprised and I said I was in my office. He said I needed to immediately seek additional security and I must vary my route for travel.
“I asked what was wrong and my brother told me a very strange story. One of my brother’s old friend had just called him to say he had just left a secret meeting where the subject was to inflict maximum physical damage on me, just short of killing me.
“The agreement reached in this meeting was to attack me in a way that I would end up paralysed and bound to a wheelchair and forced to leave the Finance ministry.
“The meeting was held by a group of oil importers and marketers to whom the Federal Government ‘owed money’. It was held in the house of the chair and owner of one of the oil marketing companies.
‘’They were angry I was withholding the subsidy payments that they thought were owed them for their refined petroleum imports.
“My brother’s friend participated in this meeting but felt what was being planned was unjust and cruel and I did not deserve it.”
The minister said the attack on her mother was due to her refusal to resign from office, after she had convened a task force that audited fiscal accounts and detected “fraudulent” claims for oil subsidy payments by oil marketers, which she refused to pay.
Prove your allegation, marketers fire back
Meanwhile, marketers under the aegis of Depot and Petroleum Products Marketers Association, DAPPMA yesterday, dared Dr. Okonjo-Iweala to prove her allegation.
According to Executive Secretary, DAPPMA, Mr. Femi Adewale, “she (Okonjo-Iweala) is free to make any allegation deemed fit but she can help by naming the marketers.”
In his reaction, National President of Independent Petroleum Marketers Association of Nigeria, IPMAN, Mr. Chinedu Okoronkwo, told Vanguard that the association was not mentioned in the statement.
He said: “Why will I react to such issue? We are not importing. For IPMAN, our major operation is buying from tank farms and NNPC depots. So you can know that she is not referring to us. She is referring to those who are coming to claim subsidy, not us.’’
On his part, Femi Olawore, Executive Secretary, Major Marketers Association of Nigeria, MOMAN, said: “How do I know the truth? I can only comment on our working relationship. I enjoyed working with her because she was very accessible. She worked against several forces in order to reduce the subsidy claims. We had reasons to quarrel but overall, she is a good Nigerian.”