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Tuesday, July 5, 2022

No hasty implementation of subsidy probe report, says Fed govt

Nigerians expecting a swift implementation of the House of Representatives fuel subsidy probe report should forget it.

The Federal Government said yesterday that the report will not be implemented, until anti-graft bodies have fully investigated corruption-related issues raised by the report.

The government said, once again, that it had not yet received the report.

Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice Mohammed Adoke explained the government’s position in a statement yesterday.

He also said the government considered the report of the Farouk Lawan Committee as mere fact-finding report.

He asked the Save Nigeria Group (SNG) to shelve the proposed nationwide protest to pressurize the government to implement the report.

Adoke said: “The attention of the Office of the Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice has been drawn to recent calls by some groups and well-meaning Nigerians for the prosecution of those allegedly indicted in the Report of the House of Representatives Ad-Hoc Committee on Fuel Subsidy Regime.

 “It is pertinent to reiterate the government’s position as aptly captured by Mr. President’s initial reaction to the Report of the Fuel Subsidy probe to the effect that any person found wanting will be prosecuted, irrespective of the person’s standing in the society. 

“Nigerians must, however, appreciate that in discharging this onerous responsibility, Government must be guided by the dictates of the rule of law and due process as required of any democratically elected and responsible government.  

 “In this regard, the need to ensure that thorough investigations are carried out by relevant law enforcement agencies cannot be overemphasised.

 “This is more so, as the exercise carried out by the House of Representatives is mainly fact-finding.”

Adoke said although the government is yet to receive the House Ad Hoc Committee’s Report, it will not spare anyone found guilty by anti-corruption agencies.

“I also wish to point out that the Report of the Ad-Hoc Committee and the Resolutions adopted by the House of Representatives is yet to be transmitted to the Executive arm of government.

“Nevertheless, when the report and accompanying resolutions are received, the relevant law enforcement and anti-corruption agencies will commence the tedious process of sieving through the report, with a view to assembling all the essential ingredients required to sustain criminal charges that may be filed as a result of such investigations.

“I, therefore, call on Nigerians who are understandably concerned about the revelations arising from the Fuel Subsidy Probe to be patient and exercise restraint while these difficult, but essential processes are carried out by appropriate agencies.

“As the Attorney General of the Federation, I swore to uphold the Constitution and I am, therefore, not oblivious of the constitutional responsibility placed on my shoulders to ensure that those who contravene our laws are held accountable through the legal process.

“However, experience has shown that whenever our law enforcement agencies are stampeded to arraign suspects, the end result is usually the discharge of such suspects by the courts, ostensibly, for want of evidence. Nigerians must, therefore, allow our law enforcement agencies to conduct painstaking investigations that will ultimately satisfy the standard of proof required in criminal cases.”

The AGF, who admitted that the findings of the committee are weighty, said the government is committed to transparency in the oil sector.

He said: “The foregoing notwithstanding, we must accept that the allegations contained in the Subsidy Probe Report deserve serious action on the part of all those with oversight responsibility over the agencies and persons concerned. 

“Aware of this responsibility, Mr. President had as far back as 2010 ordered a forensic audit of the accounts of the NNPC with a view to sanitizing the oil sector. 

 “Since then, other processes have been put in place to enhance accountability and transparency levels in the oil sector even before the commencement of fuel subsidy probe.”

Adoke asked the Save Nigeria Group (SNG) to shelve its planned protest to avoid compounding the nation’s problem.

He added: “I, therefore, humbly urge Nigerians to have faith in the processes being undertaken and to patiently wait for the outcome of the investigations and subsequent prosecutions that may flow from the fuel subsidy probe conducted by the House of Representatives and the on-going probe by the Senate of the Federal Republic of Nigeria. 

 “In this respect, I wish to observe that the ultimatum being given by some groups and the threat to embark on demonstrations and strike actions will only compound the problem and divert attention as well as the energy that would otherwise have been channelled into productive use by law enforcement agencies.”

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No hasty implementation of subsidy probe report, says Fed govt

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