South West Group Knocks Buhari Over Silence On NNPC $25b Fraud

Yoruba interest group, the South West Think Tank ( SWETT) has described the continued silence of President Muhammadu Buhari over a $25b contract awarded by the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) without board approval, as his tactical endorsement of corruption in the system , even as the group condemned the Operation Crocodile tears of the military in the South Western part of the country.

In a statement issued by the group in Ibadan, Oyo state capital on Wednesday and signed by its Publicity Secretary, Chief Femi Davies, SWETT said Buhari’s pretence of ignorance of the allegation made by the Minister of State, Ibe Kachuckwu against the NNPC Group Managing Director (GMD), Dr Maikanti Baru over a $25b contract he unilaterally awarded is ” the most devastating blow on the suspicious fight against corruption as being propagated by the All Peoples Congress since it assumed power at the centre and a development which has further established the doubt already created by the President’s inaction against sundry cases of corruption that have occurred under his nose ”

According to the group, it is national embarrassment that a nation that prides itself as the giant of Africa can afford to keep somebody in jail against court orders, for an alleged N21b fraud , while ” a Minister has accused a Managing Director under him of a monumental fraud to the tune of $25b yet, the government has refused to act and register its seriousness about fighting corruption, while the President, who got elected on the basis of his perceived integrity has also refused to make a comment on the nefarious act ”

Submitting that the “surface scratching ” statement by Laolu Akande, the Chief Press Secretary to Vice President Yemi Osibajo is a “failed attempt to cover up the monumental fraud” SWETT said the Buhari led government has done enough to sabotage its own anti corruption war even, before the NNPC $25b contract scandal came to the fore.

It stated among others, that the allegation of abuse of office levelled against President Buhari’s Chief of staff, Abba Kyari who was alleged to have abused his membership of NNPC Board to influence the award of contract to a highly-indebted company, Valiant Offshore Contractors Limited, against the recommendation of AMCON and at the expense of the country was unattended to.

The statement mentioned that while another accusation against the Chief of Staff of interfering in EFCC investigation of a fraud involving Sahara Energy did not get the expected reaction from government, it said the Chief of Army Staff, Turkur Buratai whose allegation of false declaration of assets against him at the Code of Conduct Tribunal has not been investigated despite proofs of landed properties in Dubai traced to him against the code for public office holders remain a source for concern.

The group also mentioned as discouraging, the government’s inaction and “cover up” of an allegation in respect of President Buhari’s Minister of Interior, AbdulRahaman Danbazau who was accused of ownership of properties in the United states of America and Federal Capital Territory with a worth beyond his possible savings as a retired military officer , just as it castigated the government for its deliberate refusal to revisit the grass cutting scandal case of the Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Mr. Babachir Lawal.

“The National Assembly investigative panel that indicted the SSG specifically asked relevant agencies to prosecute the suspended SGF for allegedly awarding contracts worth N500m, through the Presidential Initiative on North-East, a rehabilitation programme under his office, to a company in which he had interests, yet nothing has been done in this regard under a government that claim to be fighting corruption”

According to SWETT, if the above catalogued deliberate cover up failed to expose government’s lip service to stamp corruption off the country, “then the recent $25b contract mess at NNPC has ruined whatever is left of the government in terms of transparency and integrity” .

Thus, the group urged “all progressive citizens of the country to, for once stand up and demand from the government what is right” because “we can’t continue to retrogress and pretend not know that there may not be a country to bequeath to our children.”

The Yoruba group in the statement, also came hard on the Military over its operation in the Southwest, code named Crocodile smile.

Condemning the development, SWETT said there is no security challenge in the Southwest to warrant such intimidating operation like Crocodile Smile.

It thus urged the authorities concerned to “immediately withdraw the troops assigned to the operation to enable the police perform its constitutional duty of securing the people instead of distracting the law enforcement agents”.

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