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NEWS Leave Jonathan out of scandal, says Presidency Continued from Page 1

•Minister of Trade and Investment, Dr. Olusegun Aganga, flanked by Group Managing Director/CEO, FirstBank of Nigeria Plc, Mr. Bisi Onasanya and National, President, Nigeria Association of Small Scale Industrialists (NASSI), Chief Chukwu Nwachukwu at the signing of an MoU between the Bank and NASSI on enhancing the growth and development of SMEs at the Radisson Hotel, Victoria Island, Lagos...yesterday

Budget 2012: Fed Govt releases N404.1b



HE Federal Government has released N404.1 billion for the implementation of projects by the Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs) this year, Finance Minister Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala said yesterday.

The Coordinating Minister for the Economy explained that of the N239.8 billion cash-backed, the MDAs have expended N94.1b. She spoke on the state of the economy at a news conference in Abuja yesterday. According to her, the figure represents about 39 per cent of the cash-backed approvals. Mrs Okonjo-Iweala said the first quarter 2012 releases totalled N304.1 billion. The balance of N100 billion was released in the second quarter. More funds would have been released for projects during the six-month period but the MDAs were still implementing the 2011 budget up to the end of the first quarter, because of the extension of implementation of last year’s budget. The Government said the minister, will ensure that fi-

From Nduka Chiejina, Abuja

nancial years do not exceed the 12-month calendar period and ensure that the implementation of the current year’s budget does not spillover to 2013. On the fuel subsidy payment, Mrs Okonjo-Iweala said in addition to the N451 billion paid so far on the arrears of fuel subsidy claims for last year, an additional N17 billion had been released for the 2012 claims. She confirmed that the Federal Government did not suspend fuel subsidy payments as reported in the media. According to her, the Committee set up by the Federal Government to review the subsidy payment regime following the sack of the auditors would release its report next week. The government

will act on its recommendations, she said. The Minister said President Goodluck Jonathan had directed the Accountant General of the Federation (AGF) and the Director General, Budget Office of the Federation to clear all the outstanding salary arrears of civil servants. She attributed the delay in the payment of workers’ monthly salaries to hitches in the IT infrastructure of the Integrated Payroll and Personnel Information System (IPPIS) and the Government Integrated Financial Management Information System (GIFMIS). Both IT initiatives, Mrs Okonjo-Iweala said, were adopted by the government to ensure transparency and efficiency in recurrent expenses.

of a plot by President Goodluck Ebele Jonathan and the executive arm of government to unseat the leadership of the House of Representatives, is totally false and baseless. “For the benefit of unwary members of the public who may be deceived by the political innuendoes now being woven into the subsidy probe bribe affair, President Jonathan wishes to affirm that he has absolutely no reason or desire to meddle in the affairs of the House of Representatives and its leadership. “Neither the President nor anyone acting on his request or order has anything to do with the scandal that has sadly engulfed the House ad-hoc committee on fuel subsidy. The attempt to drag the Presidency into the matter is entirely speculative and without factual foundation. “Against the background of its avowed commitment to the effective prosecution of the war against corruption in Nigeria, the Presidency notes with satisfaction, that given the seriousness of the scandal, the House of Representatives has already recalled its members from recess for a special session to deliberate on it tomorrow. “The Presidency, therefore, urges the media to allow members of the House and law enforcement agencies to conduct and conclude investigations without further unhelpful distractions. “Recent developments notwithstanding, President Jonathan’s directive to the Attorney-General of the Federation on the report of the Ad-Hoc Committee on Fuel Subsidy, as adopted by the House of Representatives,

subsists and he fully expects that all those indicted in the report will be duly investigated and prosecuted, if a prima facie case is established against them.” But the Save Nigeria Group (SNG) yesterday said President Goodluck Jonathan is aware of the $620, 000 bribe allegedly collected by Hon. Farouk Lawan. SNG spokesman Yinka Odumakin said: “The probe is bound to collapse. “The issue is about a house of corruption wanting to preserve itself. The report touches the major artery of corruption in Nigeria and it was going to be terminal. “A rearguard attempt succeeded in planting a bribe on Farouk through a major player in the oil industry by the ruling party. It is the same script used in the power probe where Ndidi Elumelu committee’s N5.2 billion malfeasances were used to bury $16 billion scam. “We are wiser now. We will get to the bottom of Otedola-Lawan saga without brushing aside the $20 billion subsidy theft that led to all this. That all those involved in the subsidy scam have been shielded so far while the Presidency is busy showing video of a subplot clearly shows what this is designed to achieve. The President is aware of the $620, 000 bribe,” he said. A member of the House of Representatives, Jerry Alagbaoso, denied that he assisted the embattled chairman of the ad hoc committee on fuel subsidy regime, Farouk Lawan, to collect money from oil marketers. Continued on Page 59

Police detain Lawan over $620,000 subsidy bribe

Continued from Page 1

Lawan refused to release the cash to the STF, led by Police Commissioner Ali Amodu. This, it was learnt, may have been why he lost his battle for bail. The lead counsel, Olorundare (SAN) said: “We have just been told that he will not be granted bail tonight. We are suspecting a premeditated plan to detain Lawan so that he won’t be part of the emergency session of the House of Representatives on Friday (today). “Ordinarily, the offence is bailable. Why did they allow Otedola to go home after barely spending an hour and kept this lawmaker waiting for five hours?We got here with our client at 4pm but they did not tell us that Lawan will not get bail till 9pm. “I asked CP Ali Amodu why the police were detaining Lawan, he said ‘based on orders from above’ but he did not specify whose orders. The OC Legal interjected by saying we will meet in court. “It is frustrating and a slight to isolate Lawan from his lawyers. They just kept us in a room without access to the lawmaker. “Yet, each time we asked about Lawan’s whereabouts, the police could say “he will soon be with you in a minute.” Now, it is over five hours of waiting.”

200 lawmakers sign up for Lawan’s suspension

mon and how the alleged $3million bribe was negotiated. “We also picked Lawan up on From Victor Oluwasegun and VER 200 members of the House lege by Chief Whip, Mohammed Bawa. Dele Anofi, Abuja of Representatives have signed The remaining event will be pure pro- his reaction to allegations from up for the suspension of fuel sub- ly in Asokoro and Maitama, Abuja. tocol as members will debate back and Otedola, who had earlier voluntarily come to the Police sidy probe chairman Farouk Lawan over The meetings were hinged on what forth on all that has been in the public “We also picked him up on the domain while they were on break. Eventhe bribe-for-clearance scandal. would be the form and content of today’s alarm he raised in the Leadership tually, it will culminate in a resolution. Members are angry that the scandal has plenary, it was learnt. over a plot to bribe the Ad Hoc Sources told our correspondents that impugned on the integrity of the House The Maitama meeting, which took Committee. In the last two and brought personal slight on members. place in the house of a member of the there may be a rally today at the Nation- hours, Lawan has been writing al Assembly in Lawan’s favour. But Lawan, who got wind of the move, leadership, was to find a common way On rumoured plans to impeach the his statement, a source said.” visited Speaker Aminu Tambuwal early out of the $3 million bribe –for-clearance Asked why Lawan’s counsel Speaker, a member, Kaka Kyari yesterday to plead for leniency. scandal and protect the House’s integriGujbawu (PDP, Borno) said it was nei- were not allowed to be part of Lawan reportedly told Tambuwal that ty. the questioning, the source addleaving him stranded now will also bring Though the House has called for an ther the intention of President Goodluck ed: “We have not reached the Jonathan nor that of any body within the opprobrium to the House. emergency session today, it was polarised stage where the lawyers will be Tambuwal was said to have told Lawan on the appropriate action to take on La- Presidency to remove Tambuwal. Gujbawu said: “The President is not part of the interrogation. What that he has no personal grudge against wan, who admitted collecting $620,000 interested in who becomes the Speaker we have done so far is to isolate him but that members’ decision on the from businessman Femi Otedola. issues for the lawmaker to refloor will be final. Some members are said to be suggest- of the House within the present circum- spond to.” stances, but I will say that as far as I am The Speaker’s position is in tandem ing to the Speaker not to set up an ad hoc It was learnt that the House with that of the Deputy Chairman of the committee to investigate the issue. They aware, there is no meeting that is going leadership wanted Lawan to be House Committee on Media and Public would rather have the House Committee on to remove the Speaker or to effect a part of its Emergency Session Affairs, Victor Ogene, who yesterday said on Ethics and Privileges take over the case. change in the leadership of the House. “We should put our House in order today in Abuja . that members will be guided by their de- According to them, this will give Lawan A source said: “We told the and find ways and means of regaining sire to safeguard the institutional Integ- a breathing space and a face-saving oppolice that Lawan will be availthe confidence of Nigerians because the rity of the House. portunity. able as long as those in charge Over five caucuses were said to have Today’s session is likely to see a mo- Presidency did not ask anybody to go of the case will allow him bail to met. Meetings were held simultaneous- tion being moved under order of privi- and collect money from anybody.” enable him participate in our The police may take Lawan retrieve the bribe money from The principal officers also advised to appear before the emergency session on Friday. “Our expectation is that the to court either on Monday or Lawan, who insisted that he debated extensively on what Task Force. Tuesday. will make the sum available should be the fate of Lawan. It was gathered that Lawan police will honour this part of A source said: “Yes, we are only to the court. But to prevent a rancourous arrived at the Force Headquar- the obligation.” A senior police officer said: detaining him, pending the “He said he could not lay session, some former principal ters at about 4pm. conclusion of investigation. himself bare without any officers of the House met with He was interrogated at the “We are happy that the hide and We may not release him till shred of evidence.” Tambuwal on Wednesday Office of the acting Inspector- seek game has ended, we can next week. As Lawan was honouring the night to advise the leadership General of Police, Alhaji M.D. commence full-scale investiga“We may have to meet in police, House Speaker Aminu of the lawmakers. Abubakar, by Amodu and his tion into the bribery saga now.” CP Ali had in a June 4 letter court for bail application.” Tambuwal and his principal After consultations with the team. On the $620,000 cash, the officers met for about five hours House leadership and some Lawan was asked to make a to Lawan asked him to report source said: “The police were on how to manage today’s leaders of the Peoples Demo- statement on how he knew Ot- for interrogation. Continued on Page 59 unhappy that they could not emergency session. cratic Party(PDP), Lawan was edola, what they have in com-


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The Nation June 15, 2012  

The Nation June 15, 2012

The Nation June 15, 2012  

The Nation June 15, 2012