Eze Onyekpere, the lead director of the Centre for Social Justice (CSJ), has called for immediate investigation of the group managing director of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation, NNPC, Maikanti Baru over the alleged $25 billion dollar contract scam.
He said this with regards to recent allegations by the Ibe Kachikwu, the minister of state for petroleum, on the way and manner Baru, had been running the affairs of the Corporation.
“We recall that officers of the previous federal administration who managed the oil sector are facing investigations and trials for offences related to the stealing of Nigeria’s resources,” the statement by the advocacy group said on Wednesday, October 4, 2017.
“Key allegations as revealed by Dr. Ibe Kachikwu include the award of $10 billion crude term contracts; $5 billion direct sales direct purchase contracts; $3 billion AKK pipeline contract; financing allocation funding contracts worth $3 billion and NPDC production service contract of $4 billion.
“In all, these contracts worth $25 billion were awarded in breach of legal and procurement requirements and the NNPC Board was never involved.
“Again, key management positions were filled without the input of the NNPC Board,’’ he said
Onyekpere went ahead by stating that if legal and procedural requirement was that all contracts above $20m would need to be reviewed and approved by the board of NNPC and in over one year of Mr Baru’s tenure, no contract had been run through the board, then the procedure was fundamentally flawed.
He said that these allegations were weighty and if true, constitutes serious crimes and acts of economic sabotage against the Nigerian people and the economy.
“Coming at a time the administration is prosecuting a war against corruption and seeking to enforce due process in the management of national resources, it is imperative that these allegations are thoroughly investigated.
“If a prima facie case is established, the offender(s) should be prosecuted and the full weight of the law brought to bear on them,’’ he said
He therefore advised that President Muhammadu Buhari should rise to the occasion, in the national interest and ensure that the EFCC moved to investigate these weighty allegations.
He further suggested that the president should consider suspending the alleged official(s) from office to avoid tampering with evidence and sabotaging investigations.
In the past, many Nigerians have alleged that the federal administration remained silent when serious allegations were made against its key officials.
It is imperative that the extant allegation is not swept under the carpet. Otherwise, the morality of continued prosecution of persons accused of lesser economic and financial crimes will become a subject for serious questioning,’’ he said
Onyekpere said that Nigeria had only one set of laws and it should apply across board in accordance with the tenets of justice which demands equality before the law, equal protection of the law and treating like cases alike.
“We hope that law enforcement and investigation agencies would live up to the demands of their statutory and constitutional mandates.