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.
US Gay Marriage Ruling Yields Real-life Impacti
X
Michael Bowman
June 28, 2015 10:05 PM
Friday’s landmark Supreme Court decision legalizing same-sex marriage throughout the United States is an outcome few thought possible just years ago, and shows a nation that increasingly tolerates and even celebrates the hopes and aspirations of gay people. VOA’s Michael Bowman spoke to a same-sex couple that will benefit from the high court ruling, and to a Christian scholar who is apprehensive about its potential consequences for America’s faith community.
Video

Video US Gay Marriage Ruling Yields Real-life Impact

Friday’s landmark Supreme Court decision legalizing same-sex marriage throughout the United States is an outcome few thought possible just years ago, and shows a nation that increasingly tolerates and even celebrates the hopes and aspirations of gay people. VOA’s Michael Bowman spoke to a same-sex couple that will benefit from the high court ruling, and to a Christian scholar who is apprehensive about its potential consequences for America’s faith community.
Video

Video Syrians Flee IS Advance in Hasaka

The Syrian government said Monday it has taken back one of several districts in Hasaka overrun by Islamic State militants. But continued fighting elsewhere in the northern city has forced thousands of civilians from their homes. In this report narrated by Bill Rodgers, VOA Kurdish Service reporter Zana Omer describes the scene in Amouda, where some of the displaced are taking refuge.
Video

Video Rabbi Hits Road to Heal Jewish-Muslim Relations in France

France is on high alert after last week's terrorist attack near the city Lyon, just six months after deadly Paris shootings. The attack have added new tensions to relations between French Jews and Muslims. France’s Jewish and Muslim communities also share a common heritage, though, and as far as one French rabbi is concerned, they are destined to be friends. From the Paris suburb of La Courneuve, Lisa Bryant reports about Rabbi Michel Serfaty and his friendship bus.
Video

Video S. Korea Christians Protest Gay Rights Festival

The U.S. Supreme Court decision mandating marriage equality nationwide has energized gay rights supporters around the world. Gay rights remain a highly contentious issue in a key U.S. ally, South Korea, where police did a deft job Sunday of preventing potential clashes between Christian protesters and gay activists. Kurt Achin reports from Seoul.
Video

Video Saudi Leaks Expose ‘Checkbook Diplomacy’ In Battle With Iran

Saudi Arabia’s willingness to wield its oil money on the global diplomatic stage appears to have been laid bare, after the website WikiLeaks published tens of thousands of leaked cables from Riyadh’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video Nubians in Kenya Face Land Challenges

East Africa's ethnic Nubians have a rich cultural history that dates back thousands of years, but in Kenya they are facing hardships, including the loss of lands they have lived on for generations. They say the government has reneged on its pledge to award them title deeds for the plots. VOA's Lenny Ruvaga reports.
Video

Video Syrian Refugees Return to Tal Abyad

Syrian refugees in Turkey confirm they left their hometown of Tal Abyad because of intense fighting and coalition airstrikes, not because Kurdish fighters were engaged in ethnic cleansing, as some Turkish officials charged. VOA Kurdish Service reporter Zana Omer, in Tal Abyad, finds that civilians coming back to the town agree, as we hear in this report narrated by Roger Wilkison.
Video

Video Military Experts Question New Russian Tank Capabilities

Russia has been showing off its new tank design – the Armata T-14. Designers claim it is 20 years ahead of current Western designs - and driving it feels like playing a computer game. But military analysts question those assertions, and warn the cost could be too heavy a burden for Russia’s struggling economy. Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video In Kenya, Police Said to Shoot First, Ask Questions Later

An organization that documents torture and extrajudicial killings says Kenyan police were responsible for 1,252 shooting deaths in five cities, including Nairobi, between 2009 and 2014, representing 67 percent of all gun deaths in the areas reviewed. Gabe Joselow has more from Nairobi.
Video

Video In Syrian Crisis, Social Media Offer Small Comforts

Za’atari, a makeshift city in Jordan, may be the only Syrian refugee camp to tweet its activities, in an effort to keep donors motivated as the war in Syria intensifies and the humanitarian crisis deepens. Inside the camp, families say mobile phone applications help hold together families that are physically torn apart. VOA’s Heather Murdock reports.
Video

Video Chemical-Sniffing Technology Fights Australia's Graffiti Vandals

Cities and towns all over the world spend huge amounts of resources battling graffiti writers who deface buildings, public transport vehicles and even monuments. Authorities in Sydney, Australia, hope a new chemical-sniffing technology finally will stop vandals from scribbling on walls in the passenger areas of commuter trains. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Cambodia Struggling to Curb Child Labor

Earlier this year a United Nations report found 10 percent of Cambodian children aged 7-14 are working – one of the highest rates in the region – and said one in four children in that age bracket are forced to quit school to help their families. Although the child labor rate has dropped over the past decade, Cambodia has a lot more to do – including keeping more children in school. Robert Carmichael reports for VOA from Phnom Penh.

VOA Blogs