Crime Watch, Law & Justice

EFCC seeks law to criminalise project abandonment

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By Joseph Onyekwere, Azimazi Momoh Jimoh (Abuja) and Ann Godwin (Port Harcourt)

• Osinbajo blames PDP for failing to invest in infrastructure
• Explain missing N4 trillion oil money, opposition party replies

The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) yesterday sought a new legislation against corrupt behaviour by political office holders.

The acting chairman of the commission, Ibrahim Magu, said the move would serve as a deterrent to successive governments who abandon projects into which state funds have been invested.

He said the Niger Delta Ministry is reported to have over 90 per cent of its projects in the region abandoned.

Magu spoke in Port Harcourt, Rivers State during a conference on tackling corruption, organised by the Social Development Integrated Centre.

Represented by Nnaghe Itam, the zonal head of EFCC, Port Harcourt office, he expressed regret that Nigeria was littered with abandoned projects.

“Some factors that make corruption to thrive include poorly conceived and politically motivated projects, lack of continuity in the administration of projects by successive governments, non-adherence to procurement and contractual agreements by parties,” he said, vowing that the commission was ready to tackle the challenge.

EFCC canvassed the new law as Vice President Yemi Osinbajo blamed the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) for failing to invest in infrastructure when it was in power and earned high revenue.

He criticised the party yesterday during a conversation with Prof. Konyinsola Ajayi (SAN) at the ongoing conference of the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA).

Speaking on the country’s economic recovery and growth plan, Osinbajo declared: “I think one of the major failings that we have as a nation is the failure to invest in infrastructure, especially when we were earning significantly from oil. I think that has led to several of the things we are seeing today.

“The Apapa port has 35 million metric tonne capacity. Now, it is handling 85 million tonnes. So, we have so many trucks coming out of Apapa, destroying the roads. We are opening up the ports in the South South.

“You cannot transport goods around the country without investment in rail and other infrastructure. We are also decongesting the ports by opening up other ports. That will make a significant difference.

“These are infrastructural investments that ought to have been made when our revenue base was high. We have no choice. We have to do it. But we are investing at a time when we are earning almost 60 per cent less than we earned few years back.”

But in a counter-accusation, the PDP challenged President Muhammadu Buhari to explain the whereabouts of alleged N4 trillion unremitted oil revenue disclosed in an audit report by Price Waterhouse Cooper.

“President Buhari has been presiding over a humongously corrupt administration, while at the same time posturing as Mr. Integrity and pointing accusing fingers at everyone else but himself,” the party said in a statement by its spokesman, Kola Ologbondiyan.

According to the PDP, “Nigerians, particularly those who have been defending the Buhari administration, were shocked by revelations in the audit report of the theft of N4 trillion in a sector under the direct supervision of ‘honest’ President Buhari as Minister of Petroleum Resources; the callous frittering of N50 billion from coffers of the National Poverty Eradication Programme (NAPEP) and Ministry of Agriculture; disappearance of N28 billion from the Ecological Fund, using fraudulent borrowing windows, among others sharp practices.

“Nigerians are also shocked to learn how some ministers under President Buhari stole N413 million from agencies and parastatals using fraudulent imprests. It is instructive to note that this latest audit report adds to outstanding revelations of corruption under President Buhari, including the leaked NNPC memo detailing underhand contracts to the tune of N9 trillion; the illegal lifting of crude worth N1.1 trillion in 2017, using 18 illegal companies; the alleged N1.4 trillion fraud in the oil subsidy regime; in addition to stealing of over N43 billion from the National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS) and Internally Displaced Persons (IDP) funds.

“Now that the huge rot in his presidency has been exposed by a firm commissioned by his own administration, the PDP challenges President Buhari to make good his declaration to jail treasury looters by starting with self-searching explanations on the sleazes directly linked to his office, both as president and minister of petroleum resources.”

The party added: “Nigerians can now see the real reason our nation has been brought to its knees; why our economy suddenly collapsed into a recession, and why our citizens have been subjected to the worst kind of suffering, hunger and starvation in the last three years.”

Source: Guardian Newspaper

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