Lagos, Nigeria (PANA) - Crude oil theft and pipeline vandalism, government's moves to put oil subsidy thieves on trial and Obasanjo's classification of legislators as thieves dominate front pages in Nigeria this week.
The Guardian Friday ran the story on crude oil theft under the headline "Crude oil theft hits 180,000 bpd", quoting the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) as saying that Nigeria loses about 180,000 barrels of crude oil per day (bpd) to theft and pipeline vandalism.
It said the theft was disclosed by the Group Managing Director of the NNPC, Austen Oniwon, on Thursday while addressing members of the House of Representatives Committee on Petroleum (Upstream) who were led by their Chairman, Muraina Ajibola.
According to Oniwon, the country’s total crude oil loss had outstripped the current crude oil production capacity of Ghana which stood at 120,000bpd, adding that high-profile criminals had taken over illegal oil trading activities from militants.
Oniwon also noted that the nefarious activities of oil thieves did not only have implications on revenue loss to the country but also constituted environmental hazards to the host communities.
Besides, the Chairman of the National Taskforce on Petroleum Revenue, Mallam Nuhu Ribadu, said that insecurity in Nigeria’s oil and gas installations was contributing to about 30 per cent of total loss of revenue in the sector.
Ribadu, who was at a stakeholders’ workshop in Abuja Thursday said: “Security is the reason we are not getting maximum output from this industry; security is responsible for up to 30 percent of loss of revenue to the country one way or the other. And right now we are being told by so many of the players that we are losing close to 200,000 barrels of crude oil per day to insecurity and if you put that into arithmetic, you know how much we are losing.”
The Nation, with the headline "Ribadu: Nigeria loses 200,000 bpd to theft", and the Punch whose headline was "Nigeria losing 180,000 barrels to oil thieves daily – NNPC" also covered the story extensively.
On government's resolve to bring to book all those who stole from the oil subsidy, the Nation said "All seems set for the implementation of the report of the House of Representatives Ad Hoc Committee on Subsidy following the decision of President Goodluck Jonathan to refer the document to the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).
Writing under the headline "Jonathan refers subsidy probe report to EFCC", the Nation reported that President Jonathan had asked the EFCC to do a thorough job, sparing no indicted person.
The paper, quoting a source at the Presidency, said: “The President has treated the House report and he is sending the whole document (undiluted) to the EFCC to revisit and investigate outstanding areas recommended by the Ad Hoc Committee.
“The President has no reservation on areas to be probed by the EFCC. This has clearly shown that he is ready to allow the law to take its full course. I think those doubting President Jonathan’s commitment to the anti-corruption campaign can now heave a sigh of relief. The action on the report by the EFCC is with immediate effect.”
The Punch called it "Jonathan directs Adoke to arraign subsidy thieves". It said that President Jonathan on Tuesday formally handed over the House of Representatives report containing details of the looting of the 1.7 trillion Naira (155 Naira = US$ 1) subsidy fund to the Attorney-General and Minister of Justice, Muhammed Adoke.
The President directed the minister to prosecute all those found culpable, saying there would be no sacred cows. He, however, asked Adoke to ensure a thorough investigation of the House findings.
Adoke, who spoke to correspondents shortly after receiving the directive from the President, said he would promptly carry out the directive by forwarding the report to the EFCC for proper investigation.
Brandishing a copy of the report, the minister recalled that at the beginning of the probe, the President had promised the nation that the Federal Government would investigate properly to ensure that only the guilty were punished.
In its second story on subsidy, the Punch said, under the headline "EFCC overhauls legal team for subsidy thieves’ trial", that there were indications on Wednesday that the EFCC might have begun the overhaul of its legal department as a way of presenting a strong legal team to prosecute perpetrators of financial crimes and those indicted in the fuel subsidy probe report.
And Thisday newspaper ran the story under the headline "Subsidy: Jonathan Orders EFCC to Prosecute Culprits".
Also during the week, the newspapers were awash with stories that former President Olusegun Obasanjo had classified legislators in State and Federal legislatures as armed robbers and rogues.
Obasanjo had Tuesday questioned the kind of laws the National Assembly and State Houses of Assembly make given that there are “rogues (and) armed robbers” in them.
“Integrity is necessary for systems and institutions to be strong. Today, rogues, armed robbers are in the state Houses of Assembly and the National Assembly. What sort of laws will they make?” he said at a conference of the Academy for Entrepreneurial Studies in Lagos.
And for saying his mind, the former president came under severe knocks.
"Reps summon Obasanjo...For calling them robbers, rogues", was the headline in the Trust on Thursday.
The paper reported that the House of Representatives has asked its committee on ethics to investigate the former president’s assertion, with Speaker Aminu Waziri Tambuwal hinting that Obasanjo will be invited to defend himself before the lawmakers.
For its part, the Senate challenged Obasanjo to mention names of the rogues and armed robbers among legislators.
One of the leaders of the House of Representatives hit back at Obasanjo, saying the former president lacked the moral rectitude to “cast aspersions” on the lawmakers.
“The former President called us rogues and armed robbers. But I am not an armed robber neither am I a rogue,” Deputy Minority Leader Suleiman Kawu Sumaila, said, while moving a motion under rule six of the House standing orders to draw attention to Obasanjo’s statement as reported in the newspapers.
“His greatest grouse against us is that we refused him third term in office and since then we have become his enemies. But Obasanjo does not have credibility in Nigeria. Remember he was dragged to court by his own son accusing him of sleeping with his wife,” Sumaila added.
However, Speaker Aminu Waziri Tambuwal blocked moves by lawmakers to debate Sumaila’s motion, saying, “Obasanjo can decide to come and say that he did not say so. Therefore what is raised by the deputy minority leader we cannot go into the foray and make conclusions.”
Tambuwal then referred the matter to the Committee on Ethics and Privileges for investigation.
The Tribune captioned its story "Identify armed robbers among us -- NASS challenges Obasanjo", reporting that the Senate had challenged former president Obasanjo to name the “criminals and rogues” alleged to be members of the National Assembly.
Senate spokesman, Enyinnaya Abaribe, announced the Senate's position at a news conference on Wednesday in Abuja.
Abaribe said the Senate would not allow itself to be dragged into any exchange with the former president, adding Obasanjo would be doing a great service to the nation by making known the identities of those lawmakers he referred to as dubious characters.
"Criminal lawmakers: Senators, angry Reps reply Obasanjo" was the headline in the Punch on Thursday with the story saying that while the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Aminu Tambuwal, stopped a move by lawmakers to protest former President Olusegun Obasanjo’s verbal attacks on members of the national and state houses of assembly, the Senate challenged Obasanjo to name the rogues and criminals among the lawmakers, saying a lot of people had called for clarification on the former President’s comments.
The Vanguard headline on the story was "Obasanjo presidency, a rogue regime, says CNPP".
The paper reported that the Conference of Nigerian Political Parties (CNPP) Thursday descended heavily on former President Obasanjo, accusing him of presiding over the most rogue regime ever in the country, where the nation’s treasury was blatantly looted, with reckless withdrawal of funds from the treasury without appropriation.
The CNPP, in a statement in Abuja, by its National Publicity Secretary, Mr. Osita Okechukwu, vowed that former President will never escape his atrocities committed against Nigerians.
The CNPP, however, said it is not holding brief for either the National Assembly, the State Assemblies or the Judiciary; but now that Chief Obasanjo has cast the first stone, we challenge him to render account of his rogue regime.
According to the parties, “we challenge Chief Obasanjo to explain why all the probes and audit of his regime by the National Assembly, ranging from power to privatization probes found him culpable? Or can it be said that he is antagonizing the National Assembly for the probes? Or for stopping his third term inordinate ambition?
“Chief Obasanjo blatantly looted the treasury of the nation, withdrew billions from the treasury without appropriation, corrupted the privatization process, serially obstructed justice, which made CNPP to file a petition to the EFCC on 24 December, 2007, when his immunity exited.
“Regrettably, it has become the trade mark of Chief Obasanjo to paint Nigeria black each time he is out of power, a deceptive strategy he designed long time ago to curry the favour and recognition of the international community.
“Chief Obasanjo should not think that he will escape or that his corruption case has been closed, as we will continue challenge him, until our stolen patrimony is recovered.
“A regime that harvested unprecedented oil revenue without commensurate project performance, a regime that bastardized our democracy and a regime which simulated the fault lines hence Boko Haram and other insurgences.
“Those who live in glass house, the saying goes should not throw stones, for we recall with pain how Chief Obasanjo, who came out of prison as poor as a church rat; paradoxically has become one of the richest Africans after eight years of looting in power.
“We recall with trepidation, how late Chief Gani Fawehnmi went to Federal High Court challenging the billions of Naira which Chief Obasanjo extorted from government contractors to build his presidential library contrary to Code of Conduct and ICPC Acts. He pleaded immunity and when immunity exited he resorted to manipulation of the judiciary.
“We bemoan the theatre of absurd the office of the president of our dear country became, as the can of worms was opened during the altercation between him and Alhaji Atiku Abubakar, his vice president.
“Chief Obasanjo’s corrupt practices are monumental and legendary. The stench of corruption which oozed out from the presidency was one of the factors which made Chief Obasanjo to lose the MO Ibrahim annual award for good governance when he left office in 2007.
“We cannot forget in a hurry how Chief Obasanjo 'doctored' the 2002 Electoral Act, declared the 2007 election as Do-or-Die election and other uncountable breaches, which debased the integrity of the electoral process and produced 2003 and 2007 sham elections.
“It can be said factually that Chief Obasanjo’s manipulation and subversion of the electoral process, denied Nigerians the right to elect people of their choice, hence the entry of rogues into the legislature.”
-0- PANA VAO 26May2012