Subsidy Protest Murder Trial Resumes

The Lagos High Court Sitting in Igbosere, Lagos Island on Tuesday continued trial in the case against the former Divisional Police Officer of Pen Cinema, Agege, DSP Segun Fabunmi.

DSP Fabunmi is charged with the attempted murder of some fuel subsidy protesters, and the murder of one Adedamola Daramola, an incident which occurred during the fuel subsidy removal of January 2012.

A prosecuting witness, Mr Chizoba Udoh, who took the witness stand in court, told Presiding Justice, Olabisi Akinlade, that the defendant shot at the crowd while the people ran.

The witness also said that he was reading a newspaper at Maternity Junction, Yaya Abatan, in the Ogba area of Lagos on January 9, when the Police van arrived.

“Suddenly a policeman got down from the van and started shooting in the air and I immediately crossed the road.

“Another policeman who was not in uniform then collected the gun from him and shot at the crowd gathered at the junction while we ran”, he said.

He added that it was while they were running that one Adedamola Daramola was killed, while four others sustained bullet wounds.

Another witness, Mr Moses Daramola, who claimed that the deceased was like a brother to him, told the court that he was in his house at Ogba when he heard gunshots coming from the Yaya Abatan end.

“When I got to the scene, people started telling me that my brother had been shot and taken to the General Hospital, Ifako Ijaye. I got to the hospital and found out that my brother was dead, I cried and was taken back home while his corpse was taken to the mortuary.”

During cross-examination, the defence counsel contended that the hospital was not operating on the said day, owing to the strike.

The case has however been adjourned to March 19 for continuation of trial.

Compel Jonathan To Remove Fuel Subsidy, Man Asks Court

A former Governorship candidate in the 2007 elections in Anambra State, Stanley Okeke has sued President Goodluck Jonathan before an Abuja Federal High Court asking it to compel the President to remove forthwith the subsidy being paid on fuel in the country.

Protesters displaying placards during the January 2012 subsidy removal protest in Lagos

In the suit filed through his lawyers, M.A Ebute and U.B. Eyo and dated December 21, Mr Okeke is also seeking an order compelling President Jonathan to refund to the Federation Account such sum earlier appropriated and or approved under the sub-head of fuel subsidy funds or money as according to him “cannot be justified in the face of the pervasive corruption, perennial fuel shortage and long queues being witnessed in the country.”

The Minister of Petroleum, Diezeni Alison-Madueke and her counterpart in the Finance ministry, Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala were Cited as second and third defendants in the suit.

The plaintiff is also asking the court for an order directing the 3rd defendant (Mrs Okonjo-Iweala) to stop further payment of fuel subsidy money predicated on the corrupt, illegal and unlawful fuel subsidy regime.

Mr Okeke is asking the court to declare that the fuel subsidy currently being funded by the Federal Government is a waste of public funds and therefore unlawful and illegal to sustain.

The plaintiff further asked the court for:

“A declaration that the pervasive corruption inherent in the fuel subsidy scheme has caused untold hardship to the masses of the country and therefore is an abuse of the rights of Nigerians as guaranteed by the provision of the 1999 Constitution as amended.

“A declaration that the fuel subsidy scheme having failed to achieve the purpose for which it was meant should be out rightly abolished as same has violated the Nigerian people’s rights as guaranteed by the provision of the 1999 Constitution.

“A declaration that the failure of the 2nd and 3rd defendants in their Ministerial duties to ensure a corrupt free subsidy regime is a breach of public trust and a violation of their oaths of office as contained in the seventh schedule to the 1999 Constitution.”

Mr Okeke also asked the court to determine:

“Whether in view of the official corruption and abuse of office inherent in the fuel subsidy regime as evidenced by the in-going trial of certain individuals in the Federal High Court Lagos, the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria is validly competent to order the removal and or abolish the fuel subsidy scheme.

“Whether consequent upon the perennial fuel shortages ad the attendant long queues on our roads, it would be proper and lawful for the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria to completely remove and abolish the fuel subsidy regime.

“Whether having regards to the near infrastructural collapse in our country, it would be proper to re-channel funds meant fuel subsidy scheme into the building of infrastructural facilities.

“Whether the 2nd and 3rd defendants being appointees of the President by not ensuring a corrupt free subsidy regime have not failed in their principal duty to Nigerians.”

The plaintiff in a 27 paragraphed affidavit he deposed in support of the originating summons averred that Nigeria now under the leadership of President Jonathan now imports fuel from various oil producing nations for local consumption by Nigerians and that said importation is highly subsidized by the Federal Government running into billions of Naira.

He further declared that “recently in December 2012 the President 1st defendant submitted a supplementary budget of over N161,000,000,000 to the National Assembly for the payment of additional fuel subsidy money to the fuel importers and marketers.”

The plaintiff suggested that the only way to stop the high level of abuse of the fuel subsidy scheme is the removal of the policy by the Federal Government.

No date has been fixed for the hearing of the case.

REVIEW: 2012 A Gain Or Loss To Nigerians

As year 2012 rolls to an end Nigerians will be counting their blessings or bemoaning their fate when they look at the performance of the Goodluck Jonathan administration and how it has impacted on their lives.

Their judgement will be based on the fact that with the powers vested on the president and the resources at his disposal, President Jonathan should be able to provide Nigerians with infrastructure as well as protect their lives and property.

Channels Television’s State House correspondent Chukwuma Onuekwusi in this special report gives an assessment of the president’s performance in the last one year.

SURE-P members did not award contracts – Peter Esele

A member of the Subsidy Re-Investment Programme (SURE-P), Mr Peter Esele, has stated that all the contracts managed by the committee were created by the Federal Government and funds for their execution were appropriated by the National Assembly.

Mr Esele, who also doubles as the president of the Trade Union Congress (TUC) made the explanation on our breakfast programme Sunrise daily in Port Harcourt, while reacting to the recent criticism of members of the National Assembly that the SURE-P funds were not used for agriculture.

“The executive decided where they wanted the money to go and then it was appropriated by the National Assembly and it became a law…..we have no input in it” he said.

Mr Esele further explained that he accentuated his position by saying that the SURE-P committee members will not be defending the committee’s budget before the National Assembly.

“We are not going ahead to defend the 2013 Budget (for SURE-P). We also don’t have any input in the 2013 Budget. It is between the Ministry of Finance and Budget Office.”

The SURE-P committee was set up in February 2012, by President Goodluck Jonathan to coordinate the spending of savings from subsidy removal.

SURE-P to account for N75million spent on local travels – Peter Esele

A member of the Subsidy Re-Investment Programme (SURE-P), Mr Peter Esele has declared that the committee will today present a breakdown of the sum of N75million allegedly spent by the members on local travels.

The committee which was set up in February 2012 by President Goodluck Jonathan to coordinate the spending of savings from subsidy removal was alleged to have spent the sum in just ten months of its existence.

Mr Esele, who also doubles as the president of the Trade Union Congress (TUC) stated on our breakfast programme Sunrise daily in Port Harcourt that the executives of SURE-P  committee had demanded from the secretariat of the committee to explain how such money was spent “and they (secretariat) have up till today”, he said.

 

Mr Estele revealed that some of his trips were funded by the TUC because “while the committee was inaugurated in February, funds were not released until about four months ago.”

He also denied a newspaper report that the committee members have spent the sum N2.2billion on rent.

According to the labour leader, “I don’t even know of the accommodation because right now we are squatting.” “We are just talking about getting an office because right now we are squatting, so it is impossible for us to spend that much on rent.”

He admitted that being a member of the committee has availed him the opportunity to learn how government works, particularly in terms of how contracts are awarded.

“I am not a fan of committees. Committees only thrive in a place where things are not going well” as he revealed that government budget very little for major projects and this he claims takes a long time for the projects to be completed.

When asked what the labour unions will do if in 2013, the Federal Government removes the remaining fuel subsidy, Mr Esele, who was amongst the major leaders of the January protest against the removal of fuel subsidy,responded saying “when we get to that bridge, we will cross it.”

He however, opined that such a move might not be made by the government because there are already provisions for the payment of fuel subsidy in the 2013 budget. He also added that for that to happen, the executive will need to discuss with National Assembly because of the appropriation that has already been made.

Jonathan says subsidy protest was stage managed

President Goodluck Jonathan has said that the January nationwide protest over the total removal of subsidy from petroleum was stage managed by a class of Nigerians who wanted the status quo of corruption in that sector to remain.

He said it was not carried out by ordinary Nigerians who wanted to communicate their grievances to their government.

Mr Jonathan, who disclosed this at the 52nd Independence anniversary lecture with the title, Nigeria: Security, Development and National Transformation, said it was the responsibility of Government to provide the enabling environment for development but it was left for the citizens to ensure enforcement.

Responding to the issue of the January protest raised by one of the discussants and the Director of Centre for Democracy and Development, Jibril Ibrahim, President Jonathan said, “Let me touch on what Prof. Ibrahim said about the January subsidy protest, yes you said the citizens were right, in a way they may be right, in a way they were also misinformed. If you had followed the last Earth Summit in Brazil, about two countries came out to condemn the issue of subsidizing hydro carbon all over the world. They stated that subsiding hydro carbon does not bring development.

“Look at the demonstrations back home, look at the areas this demonstrations are coming from, you begin to ask, are these the ordinary citizens that are demonstrating? Or are people pushing them to demonstrate.

“Take the case of Lagos, Lagos is the critical state in the nation’s economy, it controls about 53 per cent of the economy and all tribes are there. The demonstration in Lagos, people were given bottled water that people in my village don’t have access to, people were given expensive food that the ordinary people in Lagos cannot eat. So, even going to eat free alone attracts people. They go and hire the best musician to come and play and the best comedian to come and entertain; is that demonstration? Are you telling me that that is a demonstration from ordinary masses in Nigeria who want to communicate something to government?

“For me, if I see somebody is manipulating anything, I don’t listen to you, but when I see people genuinely talking about issues, I listen. I am hardly intimidated by anybody who wants to push any issue he has. I believe that that protest in Lagos was manipulated by a class in Lagos and was not from the ordinary people.

“Government everywhere must create environment for development and transformation, so I agree the lead must be the government but the people must be the implementator if we must transform our country”.

Mr Jonathan also alleged that because of interest in 2015 election, the media were being used to abuse the privileges of the Freedom of Information Act to the point of overheating the system.

“The key issue we are discussing is about peace and development and of course we all know that there is no way you can talk about development when you have a lot of crisis. In fact some people make more money when there is crisis and when there are crises it’s like a country in a state of emergency, anything goes.

“Crisis is one aspect but generally if there is no peace is extremely difficult for the ordinary people to survive though big players in economy may survive. Ordinary citizens having small and medium enterprises cannot come out to do business during crisis and of course it affects the economy. So you must have peace to develop.

“Peace is one of the cardinal marks of a leader. In the monarchy in the olden days, the king had maximum power, but for your kingdom to be stable, you must have the military strength. So without stability of any state we cannot develop.

“I agree totally with President Kufour who really gave us the breakdown of the kind of security situation that we have.

“When you talk of insecurity of using bombs and guns to kill people, what has been described as physical security, but in terms of social security, food security, health and the justice system all have to do with the security of individual.

“But I believe what we face in Nigeria though not peculiar to us; one of our greatest problems is what I described as political security.
Government can continue to provide physical security but also very important is the political security. When you have unending political conflicts in Nigeria, the country cannot develop.

“I believe political security is a big issue. There is this axiom that the pen is mightier than the sword. The sword is used to kill and destroy, but what we use the pen to do is also very critical. When you have society with these unending political conflicts, it is there on the media whether print, electronic or social media, it brings a lot of insecurity to the system and sometimes people begin to doubt your government.

“For example, when we were contesting election, we promised it will be free and fair, I was convinced I must do that even if I will lose the election. After our election in 2007, even the presidents in our neighbouring West African states were finding it difficult to congratulate us because the observers felt the election was not properly done. That hounded us even when we travelled out and I promised myself that if I have the opportunity to preside over election, I will do something different even at my expense at least for the sake of the country. And we did that but unfortunately, even though there were crisis in some parts of the country, observers felt the election was reasonably free and fair compared to others. But immediately after that election, not quite six months, the kind of media hype that started hitting us made us to stop and ask where this coming from?

“I said, I did not just come out from the blues to contest the election, I was deputy governor for six and half years, I was a governor for one and half years, I was a vice president, and before election, I was the president up to April when the elections were conducted, people knew me. So, within this period, including when I even acted, if I was that bad, will people have voted for me? So for Nigerians to have voted for me overwhelmingly, that means there must have been something they were expecting and definitely six months would have been too short to pass any valid judgement. But the media condemned me.

“And I believe is not just the media, like when we talk about the Boko Haram, we have political Boko Haram, religious Boko Haram and criminal Boko Haram. So also in the media, you have the professional media and the political media. That is why I talk about the political media, because of the interest of 2015, whatever you do is immaterial, the government must be brought down. And that mentality cuts across most African countries and even outside Africa.

“So addressing insecurity is critical in developing African state. When you have this ending political conflict especially in a country like Nigeria that is highly religious and with high ethno-tribal sentiments, it becomes very potent to even create a lot of problems for government.

“So I will plead with us as Nigerians that whenever we elect government into power at whatever level, at least for the sake of the country, allow the government to work before going into unnecessary overheating the system.

“When you talk of providing infrastructure, whether power, water, there is nothing you can use the magic wand to provide for the people, it takes time. To build your personal house, there must take a good number of days not to talk of infrastructure like power in a country like Nigeria and with the challenges we have and so on and so forth.

“I believe our great problem is political conflict, for a typical politician, the day you win election is the day you start the next election.

“So as government, we are committed to creating the environment. I’m quite pleased with the way President Kufour spoke on the issue of transformation. I agree that the leader must be the key actor for transformation, but those who will implement are the citizens. For instance, during the election, we advocated one man one vote, we were totally committed and I said it that nobody should rig election for me. But Nigerians believed that we were sincere and because they knew we were sincere, that took the life of its own. No, I don’t need to go and preach again. We have monitored elections in Edo and other places, nobody wants to compromise with his vote. It’s government that created that environment, but it’s not government that will enforce it, it is the citizen.

“That is why we are a bit worried that sometimes when government create the environment, whether economic, social or even the media, but how the citizens use those privileges matters so much.

“Take the media environment for instance, we signed the Freedom of Information Bill into law, it became the Freedom of Information Act, but are we using it in the way we are suppose to use it? Are some of us not abusing the privileges? The media environment that should have helped our transformation agenda are being used negatively, these are some of the issues we need to address.

“The way Nigerians challenge and abuse me, yes the President has enormous power, but if you use that enormous power to some extent, you will look like a dictator. In a democratic setting, you want to create an environment where people can create their opinion and that is why people are allowed to talk freely and demonstrate. But are we doing so properly”.

EFCC says subsidy probe report will be used as evidence

The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) on Friday said that the Petroleum Subsidy Report would be used as supporting evidence in the prosecution of anyone suspected to have been involved in the mismanagement of the subsidy fund.

Thousands of Nigerians protested against the removal of fuel subsidy by the government in January

The commission disclosed this in a press statement signed by its Acting Head of Media and Publicity, Wilson Uwujaren, in Abuja.

“The commission wishes to acknowledge receipt of the report of the House of Representatives Committee inquiry into the Federal Government Petroleum Products Subsidy programme on Thursday, May 10, 2012.

“The commission wishes to commend the honourable members of the House of Representatives for making the document available.

“The EFCC will study the report and use the findings, supported by evidence, along with the commission’s own painstaking criminal investigation to build a watertight case that will stand the test of rigorous prosecution against those found wanting.

“EFCC wishes to reiterate that anyone, individual or group found to have engaged in criminal manipulation of the subsidy regime would be dealt with in accordance with the law.”

The House of Representative ad hoc committee that probed the fuel subsidy regime had reported that mismanagement and theft by top Nigerian officials involved in the corrupt fuel subsidy arrangement cost the country over N1 trillion.

The Farouk Lawan-led committee had recommended that the sum of N1, 067,040,456,171.31 be refunded to the Federation Account by the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation, oil marketers, companies that refused to appear before the committee as well as the Petroleum Product Pricing and Regulatory Agency.