News

Nigerian Legislators Call for Prosecution in Fuel Subsidy Corruption

A woman walks past cars buying fuel at a gas station in Lagos, Nigeria, April 24, 2012.
A woman walks past cars buying fuel at a gas station in Lagos, Nigeria, April 24, 2012.
Anne Look

Nigeria's House of Representatives says high-level officials should be prosecuted for alleged theft and mismanagement of the state fuel subsidy. The fuel subsidy remains a flashpoint issue in Nigeria after attempts to lift it in January sparked a strike and deadly protests that paralyzed the nation. Nigeria is already bracing for renewed unrest if the government does not act on the parliament's findings.

Nigerian lawmakers say "sleaze" and "incompetence" by high-level officials involved in the fuel subsidy system cost the country $6.8 billion between 2009 and 2011.

The House of Representatives launched the investigation into apparent overspending on the fuel subsidy in January - after attempts to remove the subsidy led to deadly, nationwide unrest.

Chairman of the investigative committee, Faruk Lawal, opened debate on the findings in the House this week.

"You will discover a sector that has remained non-transparent, that has remained opaque and that has not been subjected to public scrutiny for many years. Perhaps, because of that, all manner of things happen," said Lawal.

And, according to the committee, they did.

The report says the government has been paying suppliers for fuel that was either never imported or was sold abroad. Lawmakers said the number of firms licensed by authorities to import fuel exploded from 5 in 2006 to 140 in 2011. Many of those firms, lawmakers say, did even not have the capacity to import fuel.

Many individuals named in the report have already denied involvement in fraud and threatened to sue. The House says it will hear testimony from fuel marketers not questioned for the original report before it votes on the findings.

The House says high-level officials, including the former head of the state petroleum regulating agency, should face prosecution.

However, anti-graft efforts in Nigeria rarely lead to successful prosecutions, particularly against senior officials. Critics say the few cases that are brought tend to fizzle in the courts.

Nigeria is the continent's largest oil producer. But its refineries are in ruins, meaning the nation must import its fuel.

The fuel subsidy has kept gas cheap for consumers, however economists say the subsidy is an unsustainable drain on the nation's mammoth budget. The International Monetary Fund (IMF) has called on African nations, like Nigeria, to remove fuel subsidies that it says do more to promote corruption than help the poor.

However, the government's abrupt lifting of the subsidy in January doubled fuel and transport prices overnight. Unions declared a nationwide strike. Thousands took to the streets nationwide for three days of protests. The government backpedalled and partially reinstated the subsidy.

The damning parliamentary report marks Nigeria's most extensive anti-graft investigation to date. Still, few believe it will lead to meaningful prosecutions.

Head of the civil society Save Nigeria Group, Pastor Tunde Bakare, says the report could prove a key test for President Goodluck Jonathan’s government.

"If the government rises up to the occasion and does what is right and brings those who are guilty to book, then it would have scored a high mark in the reckoning of the citizens," said Bakare.  "Other than that, only God knows where this will end because there is an outrage."

The House is expected to vote on an amended version of the report in coming weeks. The report would then be passed on to the executive branch for implementation.

The finance minister has already fired two auditing firms associated with the fuel subsidy system.

The presidential adviser on National Assembly matters said Wednesday that the presidency was "on the same page" as legislators and "would not spare" anyone indicted of wrongdoing.

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Cambodia Makes Progress Curbing Bear Tradei
X
Robert Carmichael
August 04, 2015 3:07 PM
Cambodia’s wild bears are under unprecedented pressure. Their native forests are being cut down at record rates, and China's huge demand for traditional medicine has made them targets. But experts say Cambodia's conservation efforts are setting an example that has put it well ahead of its neighbors in protecting bears. Robert Carmichael reports for VOA from Phnom Penh.
Video

Video Cambodia Makes Progress Curbing Bear Trade

Cambodia’s wild bears are under unprecedented pressure. Their native forests are being cut down at record rates, and China's huge demand for traditional medicine has made them targets. But experts say Cambodia's conservation efforts are setting an example that has put it well ahead of its neighbors in protecting bears. Robert Carmichael reports for VOA from Phnom Penh.
Video

Video Growing Number of E. Jerusalem Palestinians Seek Israeli Citizenship

Most Palestinians living in East Jerusalem have long rejected the option of full Israeli citizenship, seeing it as a betrayal to their political cause - the formation of a Palestinian state with East Jerusalem as its capital. But as that dream remains elusive, more and more Palestinians are applying for Israeli citizenship. Zlatica Hoke reports the decision is hard for many Palestinians who say they have to be pragmatic about it.
Video

Video With No Money, More Students, African Universities Struggle

Academics from around the African continent converged in Johannesburg last week for the African Universities Summit, a chance to tackle some of the major issues facing higher education in Africa today. VOA's Anita Powell reports from Johannesburg.
Video

Video Iraqi Yazidis Fear Death of Their Community

A year ago on August 3, Islamic State militants stormed the homelands of Iraq’s Yazidi minority, killing hundreds of men and enslaving thousands of women. The scenes of desperate Yazidi families crowding on the top of Sinjar mountain without food or water spurred Kurdish fighters into action, an emergency airlift and the start of the U.S. airstrike campaign against the Islamic State Sunni extremists. VOA's Sharon Benh reports from northern Iraq.
Video

Video Bangkok Warned It Soon Could Be Submerged

Italy's Venice and America's New Orleans are not the only cities gradually submerging. The nearly ten million residents of the Bangkok urban area now must confront warnings the city could become uninhabitable in a few decades. VOA Correspondent Steve Herman reports from the Thai capital.
Video

Video Inclusive Gym Gets People With Disabilities in Fitness Spirit

Individuals with special needs are 58 percent more likely to be obese than the general population. According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control, they also have an increased likelihood of anxiety, depression and social isolation. But a sports club outside Washington wants to make a difference in these people's lives. With Carol Pearson narrating, VOA's June Soh reports.
Video

Video Wisconsin's Voter ID Law Still Mired In Controversy

Voter ID laws have sparked controversy across the US. More than 30 states enacted laws requiring citizens to show identification before they vote. Against fierce opposition, the state of Wisconsin recently enacted one the most restrictive voter ID laws in country. As Jeff Swicord reports, no one can predict its impact as the 2016 election nears.
Video

Video Astronauts Train Underwater for Deep Space Missions

Manned deep space missions are still a long way off, but space agencies are already testing procedures, equipment and human stamina for operations in extreme environment conditions. Small groups of astronauts take turns in spending days in an underwater lab, off Florida’s southern coast, simulating future missions to some remote world. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Ebola Vaccine Hailed as Highly Effective

At last, there's a way to end the suffering from the Ebola epidemic that has ravaged West Africa for more than a year. Researchers say the vaccine is so effective, there may never be a major outbreak of Ebola again. VOA's Carol Pearson reports.
Video

Video Special Olympics Show Competitors' Skill, Determination

Special Olympics competitions will wrap up Saturday in Los Angeles, and the closing ceremony for athletes with intellectual disabilities will be held Sunday night. In a week of competition, athletes have shown what they can do through skill and determination. VOA's Mike O'Sullivan reports.
Video

Video Civil Rights Leaders Struggled to Achieve Voting Rights Act

Fifty years ago, lawmakers approved, and U.S. President Lyndon Johnson signed, the Voting Rights Act of 1965. The measure outlawed racial discrimination in voting, giving millions of blacks in many parts of the southern United States federal enforcement of the right to vote. Correspondent Chris Simkins introduces us to some civil rights leaders who were on the front lines in the struggle for voting rights.
Video

Video Shooter’s Grill: Serving Food with a Touch of the Second Amendment

Shooter's Grill, a restaurant in Rifle, Colorado, attracts visitors from all over the world as well as local patrons. The reason? Waitresses openly carry loaded firearms as they serve food, and customers are welcome to carry them, too. VOA's Enming Liu and Lin Yang paid a visit to Shooter's Grill, and heard different opinions about this unique establishment.
Video

Video Despite Controversy, Business Owner Continues Sale of Confederate Flags

At Cooter’s, a store in rural Sperryville, Virginia, about 120 kilometers west of Washington, D.C., Confederate flags are flying off the shelves. The red, white and blue battle flag, with 13 white stars representing the Confederate states, was carried by southern forces during the U.S. Civil War in the 1860s. The South had seceded from the Union over several key issues of disagreement, including slavery. VOA’s Deborah Block has the story.
Video

Video Booming London Property a ‘Haven for Dirty Money’

Billions of dollars of so-called ‘dirty money’ from the proceeds of crime - especially from Russia - are being laundered through the London property market, according to anti-corruption activists. As Henry Ridgwell reports from the British capital, the government has pledged to crack down on the practice.
Video

Video Hometown of Boy Scouts of America Founder Reacts to Gay Leader Decision

Ottawa, Illinois, is the hometown of W.D. Boyce, who founded the Boy Scouts of America in 1910. In Ottawa, where Scouting remains an important part of the legacy of the community, the end of the organization's ban on openly gay adult leaders was seen as inevitable. VOA's Kane Farabaugh reports.

VOA Blogs