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FUEL SUBSIDY PROBE: INDICTED OFFICIALS'LL BE PUNISHED -MINISTERS

By NBF News
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Minister of Finance and Co-ordinating Minister of the Economy, Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala at a ministerial platform yesterday in Abuja assured that those indicted by the House of Representative Committee which probed the fuel subsidy scam will face disciplinary measures to avoid a regime of impunity.

The Attoney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Mohammed Adoke (SAN) spoke in the same vein, but gave reasons, why his office could not immediately prosecute those indicted by the House of Representatives report.

A statement from the office of the AGF indicated that the House probe report is merely a fact-finding document emanating from the ad hoc committee and not ripe enough as evidence to warrant a prosecution in court.

'I 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, Adoke noted.

He said: 'When the report and accompanying resolutions are received, the relevant law enforcement and anti-corruption agencies will commence the process of sieving through the report to assemble 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 to be patient and exercise restraint, while these difficult, but essential processes are carried out by appropriate agencies.

'As 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.

He asked Nigerians not to be in a hurry about the prosecution as '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 satisfy the standard of proof required in criminal cases.

'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.'

Meanwhile, Minister of Finance, Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala said, as soon as the Federal Government receives the report of House of Representative on subsidy scam, it would receive expedited treatment. The Ministerial Platform was held to mark President Goodluck Jonathan's one year in office and National Democracy Day 2012.'At the beginning, we talked about smuggling of fuel from Nigerian borders which is all part of the problems. The House of Representatives report has not gotten to us and when we finally get it, we will act on it.' She said, adding, apart from the National Assembly's probe into the oil sector, the Ministry of Financé had undertaken a self-cleansing initiative ordered by President Jonathan, which led to the sacking of the auditors engaged by the Ministry.

On her rumoured resignation if fuel pump price was not reverted to N141 per litre, Okonjo-Iweala said, the rumour was perpetrated by those who wanted her out of office so that they would loot the nation. 'I dey kampe. I am going nowhere. We will not allow it,' she said. She noted that although Nigeria's debt to GDP ratio was at a manageable rate of 17 per cent but, however, cautioned that care must be taken not exceed the 25 per cent.

Speaking on the delay of civil servants' salary, the Minister said government's inability to pay civil servants early enough at month ends, was because of government's effort at curbing ghost workers' activities, which, she said, had saved Nigeria about N14 million. She said an integrated payment platform for all Federal Government agencies has been developed but that technical hitches were still being experienced.

'Sometimes, some people get their salaries and some don't. When fully operational, we will overcome such delays,' Okonjo-Iweala assured.