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Nigerian Opposition Seeks Removal of President


Six Nigerian opposition parties are demanding the resignation or impeachment of President Olusegun Obasanjo and his deputy. For VOA, Gilbert da Costa in Abuja reports that the call is based on their indictment by a senate committee.

The group, Coalition for Better Nigeria, says President Olusegun Obasanjo and Vice President Atiku Abubakar have abused the trust of the Nigerian people and should resign or be removed.

A senate committee has ruled that the two leaders acted "illegally" in the management of a petroleum fund and recommended them for prosecution.

The report reviewed conclusions reached by another senate panel said Obasanjo approved four secret accounts with the central bank in the name of an oil technology fund, and authorized improper disbursement of funds.

The vice president was accused of disbursing $20 million in 2003 from the fund, without seeking the president's approval.

Mallam Yanusa Tanko is secretary of the National Conscience Party, one of six opposition parties seeking the removal of the president and his deputy.

"Funds of the federal republic of Nigeria, belonging to the people, are being mismanaged," said Tanko. "They are using the funds against the will of the people. People are living in abject poverty. We are talking about billions of naira, billions of naira being siphoned. Once you cannot serve the people correctly, then you have not business ruling them."

The senate began its recess Wednesday and is to resume in May after the elections, to consider the committee report. Both officials are currently immune from prosecution.

Auwal Ibrahim Musa, of the Abuja-based Civil Society Legislative Advocacy Center, says the findings have greatly undermined the administration's anticorruption stance.

"Nigerians and the international community should take note that the Obasanjo regime should not take any credit for the fight against corruption. But, helping to undermine the real fight against corruption," said Musa.

Next month's vote should mark the first democratic transition in Nigeria. But there is still uncertainty because Abubakar, one of two main opposition candidates for president, was excluded from the official list of candidates published last week.

Mr. Obasanjo declared the vice president's seat vacant in December, arguing Abubakar had technically resigned by becoming the candidate for opposition Action Congress. A court overturned the president's decision.

The two men have been at odds since last year, after Abubakar opposed plans to amend the constitution to allow Mr. Obansanjo a third term.