Falana; Buhari others involved in $25 bn scandal
Human rights lawyer, Mr. Femi Falana (SAN), on Sunday, called on President Muhammadu Buhari to refer the $25bn contract scam allegations levelled against the Group Managing Director of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation, Mr. Maikanti Baru, to the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission for investigation.
In a statement, the senior advocate of Nigeria stated that during the EFCC’s investigation “into the grave allegations of the reckless contravention of the provisions of the Public Procurement Act”, the President should place Baru on an indefinite suspension.
Also, Falana called on Buhari to relinquish the position of the substantive Minister of Petroleum Resources due to the President’s “busy schedule” and appoint another Nigerian of proven integrity and competence to take up the position
He added that if his advice was heeded, relinquishing the said ministerial position would “remove undue pressure on the health of the President and allow him to attend to urgent matters of the state”.
Falana made these suggestions following what he described as “the embarrassing petition of the Minister of State in the Ministry of Petroleum Resources, Dr. Ibe Kachikwu, to Buhari pertaining to Baru’s failure to consult the President and substantive Minister of Petroleum Resources” and “the unilateral award of $25bn contracts” by the NNPC’s GMD.
He stated that the $25bn contracts should be revoked once the EFCC investigation confirmed that they were awarded without the approval of the NNPC Board.
Falana stated, “However, apart from sanctioning the officers responsible for creating the wide gulf between Dr. Kachikwu and the President, the allegation of the unilateral award of contracts worth $25bn by Dr. Baru ought to be investigated in line with the anti-corruption policy of the Buhari administration.
“In order to conduct a thorough investigation into the grave allegations of the reckless contravention of the provisions of the Public Procurement Act, Mr. Baru should be placed on indefinite suspension while the Presidency should refer the case to the EFCC.
“And once it is confirmed that the said $25bn contracts were awarded without the approval of the NNPC board they should be revoked while the recent appointment of the heads of the parastatals in the oil and gas industry should be reviewed in line with the constitution and the Federal Character Commission Act.”
On the need for Buhari to relinquish the position of the substantive Minister of Petroleum Resources, he said recent demand by the presidency for the minutes of the meetings of the NNPC Board “has confirmed that the meetings of the Board, which are statutorily required to be chaired by the Minister of Petroleum Resources, have not been held as and when due”.
He added, “Having regard to the enormous responsibilities of the office of the Minister of Petroleum Resources and Chairman of the NNPC Board, President Buhari is advised to relinquish the ministerial position in view of his busy schedule and appoint another Nigerian of proven integrity and competence to superintend the affairs of the ministry.”
Culled from Punch