PTDF: Atiku Raises Fresh Allegations
From Andy Ekugo in Abuja, 03.28.2007
Vice President Atiku Abubakar yesterday reacted to the claim of the Finance Minister, Mrs. Nenadi Usman, that the Ministry of Finance merely authenticated the release of PTDF's $20m placed in the defunct Trans International Bank (TIB); by raising further allegations of financial malpractice against the president in the management of the fund.
According to a statement by the Atiku Campaign Organisation, "it is also curious that she could not tell Nigerians who or what 'ate away' the amount of $500m within two years from the secret accounts, bringing the deposited amount to $1.2 billion at the time the Senate put PTDF under the searchlight."
By admitting that the Ministry of Finance authenticated the release of the money, according to Atiku, "she has unwittingly confirmed that the Vice President did not carry out a secret transaction on the PTDF fund. If indeed, as the Minister stated in her statement, 'the President does not dictate or approve placement in banks, it is the Finance Minister and Accountant General who do,' then, she has fully cleared the Vice President of any wrongdoing." The Vice President accused the minister of merely playing with words when she admitted to the observance of due process in the release of the money and then went ahead to dissociate government from the investment of those funds in an interest yielding account.
"The matter at hand as per the charge against the Vice President in the Review Committee report is whether the number two citizen acted alone in the matter and that the President had no knowledge whatsoever of the $20 million in issue. We are satisfied that we have provided conclusive evidence that President Obasanjo knew of the movement of the funds and their subsequent placement," the statement stated.
"The Presidency never conceded that anyone, much less, the Finance Ministry, knew about the $20m placement until the document showing the Ministry’s involvement became public knowledge. It is also curious that while Usman found her voice to defend Mr. President on the $20m placement, she could not tell Nigerians why the President ran four secret accounts of the PTDF with his former Adviser on Petroleum Products, into which $1.7 billion were lodged, without the knowledge of the entire PTDF management."
"It is also curious that she could not tell Nigerians who or what 'ate away' the amount of $500m within two years from the secret accounts, bringing the deposited amount to USD1.2billion at the time the Senate put PTDF under the searchlight."
"It is incredible that she said the President never approved expenditure in excess of N50 million while evidence before the Senate showed that he approved N10 billion PTDF expenditure in the week of Senate debate of Third Term Agenda without FEC approval; approved another $25 milion to an unknown African Institute of Science of Technology, Abuja without FEC approval; and approved N250 million to his personal lawyer for the mere task of registering a company without the approval of the FEC."
"The resort to getting FEC's retroactive approval for these expenditures after Senate had opened enquiry into the PTDF is actually not a defence by the President but an admission to a deliberate effort to distort the records so as to pervert the course of justice. The President and his ministers are indeed guilty of perjury in addition to the crimes that have been established against them in the management of PTDF."
But while reacting to a statement credited to Lagos lawyer used as Missile in THISDAY yesterday, Political Adviser to the President, Bashorun Akin Osuntokun, said Atiku, rather than the president has questions to answer.
Osuntokun's statement reads: "Our attention has been drawn to a quote contained in the THISDAY of Tuesday, March 27th, 2007, in which renowned social crusader, Mr. Femi Falana, called on Vice President Atiku Abubakar to resign over his various indictments concerning the Petroleum Technology Development Fund (PTDF)."
“Mr. Falana was quoted in these words: 'What Mr. Vice President is saying is clear. That I am a thief and that my boss should also own up. That admission is enough for him to resign and quit the presidential race. In a normal situation, both of them would have resigned honourably, having been indicted by the National Assembly'.
As much as we appreciate the concerns of Mr. Falana on this issue, we have to, however, set the picture straight. The PTDF issue has gone through five stages of investigation or review viz: the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) investigations and indictment; the Federal Executive Council review headed by the Attorney General of the Federation, Chief Bayo Ojo, his indictment, white paper and gazette; and the Professor Ignatius Ayua Administrative Panel of Inquiry inquest and indictment."
"Furthermore, the Senator Ndoma-Egba Senate Committee report similarly investigated the issue and returned a verdict of indictment on the Vice President, followed at last by the Senator Tsauri Committee of the Senate, which reviewed the Ndoma-Egba Committee’s work. It also returned a vote of indictment on the Vice President."
"The only difference this time is that the Tsauri Committee, which is chiefly populated by senators who have one axe or the other to grind with the President, decided to also drag President Obasanjo’s name into the scandal- not for corruption but what it deemed as 'illegality' in the approval of public utility projects"
"The President has maintained that he did no wrong, and his views have been corroborated by prominent and credible government officials, including the Chairman of the EFCC, Malam Nuhu Ribadu and the Minister of Finance, Mrs. Nenadi Usman.
The same cannot apply to Vice President Atiku Abubakar, whose only defence is that he is not the only one with soiled fingers. We agree with Mr. Falana that it is only an abnormally immoral person who will be indicted by five consecutive panels that will still remain in the office of the Vice President and in the race for President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria."
"President Obasanjo’s determination to ensure that the future crop of leaders are not made up of proven crooks and treasury looters who deploy the same stolen resources to contest election and win court verdicts is not a personal war as many have chosen to see it. It is simply part of his resolve to see that the nation moves away from the ugly past so that this nation will, under the able hands of new visionaries, enter the enviable club of the twenty most developed economies in the world by the year 2020. Nigerians should not be deceived by the contrived 'underdog' propaganda being mounted by the Vice President’s camp, many of whom do not even understand the depth of treachery and perfidy the man they are blindly following is capable of when he achieves what he is coveting."
FG Places Security Alert on Shell MD, Others
From Funso Muraina in Abuja, 03.27.2007
The Federal Government has directed security agencies to place the 21 persons accused of transporting toxic waste allegedly on the directive of Shell Petroleum Development Company of Nigeria (SPDC) under security surveillance, pending the commencement of their trial.
Specifically, the Federal Government directed the Police to be vigilant on the accused persons so as to facilitate easy access to them whenever the Police would be asked to produce them in court.
Twenty-seven count charge had been preferred against the 21 accused persons over the alleged illegal dumping of toxic waste, to wit, the movement of Radioactive Source from Port-Harcourt in Rivers state to Warri in Delta state, without authorisation from the appropriate authorities.
The accused persons include; Shell, its Managing Director, Mr. Basil Efoise Omiyi, Western Atlas International Nigeria Ltd, Mr. Taiwo Akinokun, Samuel Ndahbros, Azuka Onianwa, Blessing Nwaogu, Babatunde Oribido, Maxwell Weeksee, Moses Edafe, Joseph Kintum, O and X Nigeria, Julius Joram, ED. Wayles International Services, Oyinbo Afeyebo, Cand E Global Nig. Ltd. Do-Good Philip, Isaac Akpobaro, Efe Oriedajiwhe, Anderson Onw-hakpo and Oruma Johnbull.
The letter on the surveillance was from the Office of the Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice and signed by Abdullahi Mikailu, a Chief State Counsel, copied to the Deputy Inspector General of Police, “D” Department of the Nigeria Police Force Headqu-arters, Abuja.
Calling the attention of DCP S.G Balogun, the letter entitled Re: Charge Number: FHC/ABJ/CR/30/2007, FRN VS Western Atlas International Nigeria Limited & 20 others reads: “Above subject matter refers. I am directed to inform you that appropriate charges (copy attached) has been preffered against above mentioned accused persons before Federal High Court Miatama, Abuja.
"You will be further informed as soon as the matter is directed and a date is fixed for hearing”.
In a charge no FHC/ABJ/CR/30/2007, prepared by the Director of Public Prosecution of the Federation, Salihu Aliyu,the 21 accused were alleged to have illegally shipped radio active sources from Port Harcourt in Rivers state to Warri, Delta state.
The suit was placed before the Abuja Federal High Court sitting in Abuja.
In a 27 count-charge, the SPDC, two international companies among other accused were accused of violating the Nuclear Safety and Radiation law.
In the charge filed before the court on March 22, the accused are said to have allegedly conspired between September 9 and October 9, 2006 to carry, transport, handle, stored and transfer the radio active sources to an unauthorized person.
The DPP said the accused failed to obtain requisite clearance from the Department of the state Services.
The charge brought against the 21 accused persons in Abuja, stated that Western Atlas among others, transported radioactive sources (namely one neutron source, m – Be with serial No 48474, one density, Cs-137 with serial No 969, one neutron verifier Am-Be with serial No D-311, two density verifier Cs -137 with serial number V- 1008 and v-1031, one Gamma ay-rig, Ra -226 with serial No WA-644) from Port Harcourt to Warri in violation of section 77 of the Nigerian Basic Ionization Radiation regulations 2003 and section 41 of the Nuclear Safety and Radiation Protection Act 1995."
The accused, according to the charge, have therefore committed an offence contrary to section 516 of the criminal Code Act Cap 77 Laws of the Federation of Nigeria 1990.
The FG stated further that the accused contravened section 5(2)(c) of the Nigerian safety and security of radioactive sources regulatory 2006 and therefore punishable under Section 45(1)(a) of the Nuclear Safety and Radiation Protection Act 1995.
E D Wayles International was accused of handling radio active materials including towing a barge called Emonina 11 containing radio active bunker from SPDC Ogunnu jetty to Perker rig 73 in Warri, Delta State, without valid licence or authorisation from the Nigerian Nuclear Regulatory Authority.