It is absolutely tragic that the heinous crime committed against the Nigerian State where a few corrupt and greedy individuals swindled the country of trillions of naira has unfortunately been turned into a mere circus show as a result of allegations and counter allegations of bribery between Honourable Farouk Lawan and Chief Femi Otedola, Chairman of Zenon Petroleum.
While we condemn the piecemeal dramatisation of the subsidy scam, we equally deplore the indifferent disposition of the respective anti-corruption agencies for their failure to make the desired interventions and unravel the truth surrounding the entire bribery scandal.
The Integrity Group of Industrial Unions believes that if the Presidency and the relevant law enforcement agencies are genuinely committed to the anti-corruption crusade, it will not be difficult to uncover the truth since there is no longer any doubt that money exchanged hands between Hon. Lawan and Chief Otedola. Among the basic questions that needed answers to arrive at the truth are: whether it was a sting operation meant to ensnare Hon Lawan or not? Why was Hon. Lawan not immediately arrested immediately after the bribe money was safely in his custody? Why did Chief Otedola not make public the operation in which operatives of the State Security Service (SSS) were said to have been involved immediately afterwards? Why did Hon Lawan not take into confidence principal officers of the House since he is claiming that he took the money as evidence to indict Chief Otedola? Why did both of them keep quiet over this matter for close to two months? Why is the SSS not speaking if, indeed, its men were involved in the sting operation by Chief Otedola? Why is the police high command keeping quiet if actually Hon. Lawan reported to one of its very senior officers that an attempt to bribe him was made by Chief Otedola?
Coupled with these questions is also the unusual silence of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) over the entire subsidy scam and the subsequent bribery scandal. EFCC’s silence is clearly awkward as it triggers the popular fear that the bribery circuit is part of a larger conspiracy/plot to bury the monumental fraud. We urge the EFCC to use this moment to reassure Nigerians that this situation is redeemable.
In the same vein, President Jonathan must use this opportunity to match words with action having assured Nigerians that all those found culpable in the subsidy scam will not be spared. We are convinced that the President is aware that the petroleum subsidy probe was the immediate follow-up to the January protests in which many lost their lives and therefore Nigerians will not relent in struggling for commensurate penalties for all those indicted in the subsidy swindle.
We also use this opportunity to call on the President to also use the subsidy fraud to reflect on the need for stronger state intervention in the economy instead of the present neo-liberal agenda under which the economy is left at the mercy of so-called market forces. It is clear that the private sector is neither productive nor immune from corruption. The greatest case against continuation of neo-liberal economic management strategy is the fact that the 2.6 trillion lost to subsidy scam could have been used to build refineries long before now and saved everyone from the embarrassing scandal.
Comrade Leke Success Comrade Peters Adeyemi
President, NUHPSW General Secretary, NASU