AFRICMIL commends ICPC on NBET probe report, asks SGF to act on NBET crisis
The African Centre for Media and Information Literacy (AFRICMIL) has commended the Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission (ICPC) for investigating and issuing a report on the petition alleging corrupt practices and abuse of office against Dr. Marilyn Amobi, MD/CEO of Nigerian Bulk Electricity Trading Company (NBET) Plc.
The report on the investigation of the petition sent to the Commission by Mr. Sambo Abdullahi, a whistleblower and staff of NBET, indicted Dr. Amobi for violation of procurement laws. The Commission said she would soon be prosecuted.
Chido Onumah, Coordinator of AFRCMIL, noted in a press statement: “While we thank ICPC for the sense of duty to investigate and release the report when it was almost looking as if some powerful persons in government would not want the rot in NBET under Dr. Amobi exposed, we also observe with every sense of responsibility that the report was not far-reaching enough.”
He said the report was “shockingly silent” on its findings on the allegation of monthly over-payment of about N2billion to Olorusogo and Omotoso power plants by the management of NBET, a development he described as a key part of the corruption in the power sector, and the foremost allegation in the petition.
“AFRICMIL is very disturbed that the ICPC report was shockingly silent on the huge payment of over N2billion to Olorusogo and Omotoso power plants when, in the face of credible evidence, they do not have Gas Purchase Agreement (GPA) and Gas Supply Agreement (GSA). In view of this obvious fact, we urge ICPC to revise the report by including its findings on this payment because it forms a significant portion of the massive fraud in the power sector,” Onumah stated.
The statement said Mr. Abdullahi, who was the Head of Internal Audit in NBET, was being victimized alongside his colleague Waziri Bintube, former Head of Finance, for refusing to cooperate in defrauding NBET and denouncing abuse of office by their boss. For nearly two years now, according to the statement, both have been denied their salaries and other entitlements, and removed from their jobs. “We are happy, however, that both management staff have been vindicated, as the report absolved them of any wrongdoing and declared that they were ‘wrongfully dismissed but the matter has been referred to the office of the Office of the Secretary to the Government of the Federation,’” the statement said.
Onumah called on the SGF to act quickly to restore the salaries and entitlements, as well as the offices of Messrs Abdullahi and Bintube in view of the findings and recommendations of ICPC. According to him, “Since the ICPC report noted that the whistleblowers did not commit any offence, the SGF would do well to get them back to work and ensure the payment of whatever is due to them.”
Onumah said the matter of the persecution of the whistleblowers had since last year been referred to the SGF’s office when it could not be resolved by the Ministry of Power, Works and Housing, following the non-compliance of Dr. Amobi to two separate directives of the Ministry of Power, Works and Housing to refrain from treating the whistleblowers as if they had ceased to be staff of NBET and withholding their salaries and emolument. “Now is the time for the SGF to act in the interest of justice,” he noted.
Onumah implored the Head of the Civil Service of the Federation to also make public the report of the Joint Committee inaugurated to look into the NBET crisis which has been on for two years now, and has resulted in low performance in the power sector. The Committee, headed by the Permanent Secretary (Career Management Office – CMO, has members from Ministry of Finance, Federal Civil Service Commission, Ministry of Power, Works and Housing, among others.