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$12.4 billion Scandal: Jonathan set to probe Babangida at last

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Goodluck Jonathan
After years of prevarication by several governments, the chicken might be coming home to roost for Ibrahim Babangida. NEXT gathered in Abuja, the seat of power, last night, that the Federal Government has raised a committee to probe the eight-year military government of Mr. Babangida.

The former military president is alleged to have mismanaged over $12.4 billion that accrued from crude oil sales during the Gulf War.

The Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Mohammed Bello Adoke (SAN), told our correspondent in a telephone conversation that the committee is chaired by the Solicitor-General of the Federation and Permanent Secretary in the Federal Ministry of Justice, Abdulahi Yola.

Although the committee has been charged to work expeditiously to meet the huge expectations of the citizens, it was learnt that it has no deadline, however.

Mr. Adoke's revelation came on the trail of renewed actions being made to push for the enforcement of zoning as a political means of picking the presidential candidate of the Peoples' Democratic Party (PDP) from the north in 2011 by a 48-man team inaugurated on Sunday at a meeting held by the Northern Elders' Forum.

One of the people who was nominated into the group of eminent personalities and who could be the key beneficiary of a successful rapprochement is Mr. Babangida, a retired General seeking to reclaim power in 2011, after “stepping aside” on August 27, 1993.

Mr. Adoke says: “The committee on Okigbo report has been constituted. The committee's work will begin properly as soon as the Solicitor-General of the Federation, who is the chairman of the committee, and who, right now, is away on an official assignment outside the country, returns.

“The committee will begin the process of its work by first authenticating the copy of the report we received. Once that is done, it will go ahead to review all the allegations and recommendations in the report, with a view to advising the Federal Government on the next line of action.”

The Justice Minister declined to authorise his Media Assistant or the Ministry's Chief Press Secretary to release the names of the other members of the committee.

“The work of the committee is a very sensitive one. So, it is not right for me at this stage to reveal or authorise any of my aides to disclose the names of the other members for the simple reason that they could be exposed to high level of risks, influence peddling, following a public knowledge, and the possibility of tampering with the document and result,” Mr. Adoke added.

With the inauguration of the committee, the Justice Minister has fulfilled his promise to set up a committee that will determine the authenticity of the Pius Okigbo Panel report, and review the allegations and recommendations, with a view to ascertaining whether the allegations can sustain a criminal charge against Mr. Babangida.

Mr. Adoke had on May 12 acknowledged the receipt of the certified true copy of the report a group of civil society organisations (CSOs) sent to him.

A coalition of CSOs on May 5, 2010, fulfilled its promise to dust and produce the certified true copy (CTC) of Okigbo Panel Report accusing Mr. Babangida of embezzling $12.4 billion, after Mr. Adoke requested for the original copy that was alleged by the government of former president Olusegun Obasanjo to be missing.

Courtesy NEXT 234