Minister of Labour and Productivity, Emeka Wogu
By Davidson Iriekpen and Christopher Isiguzo
After a consultative meeting in Enugu, Enugu State Capital, the Conference of Nigerian Political Parties (CNPP) Sunday asked the Minister of Labour and Productivity, Emeka Wogu and his Niger Delta Affairs counterpart, Mr. Godspower Orubebe, to resign with immediate effect “having compromised in the discharge of their duties as public officers.
CNPP’s appeal came as human rights lawyer, Mr. Femi Falana (SAN), Sunday appealed to President Goodluck Jonathan to sack Wogu whom he recently appointed to head the white paper on Nuhu Ribadu-led Petroleum Revenue Special Task Force (PRSTF), over his alleged indictment in the illegal payment of N2.7 billion to his company for fuel that was never supplied.
In a statement issued after the meeting and signed by the National Publicity Secretary, Osita Okechukwu, the CNPP threatened to drag the two ministers to the Code of Conduct Tribunal and other relevant agencies should they fail to throw in the towel.
The CNPP in the statement made available to journalists, noted that it had reviewed the state of the nation and came to the inevitable conclusion that the activities of the two ministers were taking toll on the administration of President Jonathan, hence the public trust deficit.
It noted that if urgent steps were not taken immediately to arrest the situation, the regime might end up being labelled as the most corrupt in the history of the country.
It further noted that the President Jonathan’s administration needed urgent cleansing to erase the ugly label either by compelling the two ministers who have been “publicly found to have violently abused their oath of office and code of conduct for public officers as enshrined in the 1999 constitution,” to resign, or sack them if there was no honour left in them to honourably resign.
“CNPP was outraged the day the Coordinating Minister for the Economy and Minister of Finance, Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, announced to the whole world that one of the companies involved in defrauding the Nigerian state of N2.5 trillion in the 2011 fuel subsidy scam collected N2.7 billion and went into thin air; little did we know that Pinnacle Contractors Ltd is the family company of Chief Emeka Wogu, Minister of Labour and Productivity, until he owned up.
“Investigations revealed that the vessel listed by Pinnacle Contractors Ltd to collect the first tranche of N1.2 billion was not on Nigerian shores on the date of the fathom fuel delivery, just as the Vessel listed for the second tranche of N1.5 billion was moribund, which simply means that Wogu and his family defrauded Nigerians of N2.7 billion,” the statement noted.
The opposition parties also described as worrisome that Pinnacle Contractors could not be located in the data base of the Corporate Affairs Commission (CAC), until November 30 after several searches– with first Directors as Chief Emeka Wogu – 750,000 shares, Mrs Oyababefe Wogu -150,000 and Mr Enyinnaya Wogu – 100,000 shares respectively.
It therefore wondered how the Minister of Labour and Productivity could provide employment and productivity when he “descends into the arena to fleece the state of its meagre resources, which could have been used to create employment,” adding that Wogu had no doubt contributed to the economic adversity in the land.
Speaking on the Minister of the Niger Delta, the CNPP said they were equally shocked that the cost of the mansion built for him at Jabi in Abuja, by Setraco Limited was enough to construct 100 kilometre of the East-West Road, which has become a shame on the President Jonathan’s administration.
The CNPP further accused the two embattled ministers of having contributed to the economic adversity affecting the nation and therefore should take the honourable path.
Falana, in a statement made available to THISDAY yesterday, stated that leaving Wogu to continue to head the committee would amount to making him a judge in his own cause
The human rights lawyer noted that since a minister was recently forced to resign from the Federal Government Cabinet due to “conflict of interest,” the President should not hesitate to remove Wogu from the cabinet without any further delay.
Falana also gave the President till December 31 to sack the former Head of Service, Mr. Steve Orasanye and Benard Otti from the board of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) or face a legal action.
The duo of Orasanye and Otti were members of the Nuhu Ribadu-led Petroleum Revenue Special Task Force (PRSTF), which submitted its report to the President in controversial circumstances recently.
Falana described the appointments of the Orasanye and Otti into the NNPC board as illegal and a contravention of sections 2 & 3 of the NNPC Act which provide that the corporation shall have six members and an alternate chairmen.
The human rights lawyer argued that the NNPC Act requires that the board of the corporation shall consist of the Minister of Petroleum who shall be the chairman, the Managing Director of the NNPC, three persons appointed by the President and an alternate chairman.
He added that instead of the seven members, the corporation now has nine members with the appointment of Oronsanye and Otti.
He contended that since the NNPC Act has not been amended to validate the increase in the membership of the board, Oronsanye and Otti should immediately be removed from the board.
Falana’s statement read: “In his recent media chat President Jonathan reiterated the resolve of his administration to fight the unprecedented rot in the petroleum industry.
“ In particular, President Jonathan undertook to implement the reports of the various committees that probed the oil industry once the white papers on them are issued by the Federal Government.
“To assure the nation of the determination of the administration in prosecuting the war against corruption, more suspects have been charged to court in connection with the fuel subsidy scam.
“However, the Minister of Labour and Productivity, Wogu who is heading the white paper committee on the Nuhu Ribadu-led Petroleum Revenue Special Task Force (PRSTF) has been indicted in the illegal payment of N2.7 billion to a company for fuel that was never supplied.
“As he cannot be a judge in his own cause, Wogu should be removed from the white paper committee forthwith.
“More so, that Dr Reuben Abati and Doyin Okupe and the Federal Ministry of Petroleum Resources have given the impression that the report of the PRSTF would be swept under the carpet.
“Since a minister was recently forced to resign from the Federal Government Cabinet due to “conflict of interest” President Jonathan should not hesitate to remove Wogu from the cabinet without any further delay.
“It has also been confirmed that while the PRSTF was carrying out it’s assignment Messrs Steve Oronsanye and Ben Otti were appointed into the Board of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation. Although President Jonathan has denied the imputation that the appointment was designed to bribe and compromise Messrs Oronsanye and Otti, it is illegal, null and void as it violates sections 2 & 3 of the NNPC Act which provide that the NNPC shall have six members and an alternate Chairmen.
“Specifically, the Board shall consist of the Petroleum Minister who shall be the Chairman, the Managing Director of the NNPC, three persons appointed by the President and an alternate chairman. “Instead of the seven members the NNPC has nine members with the appointment of Messrs Oronsanye and Otti.
“Since the NNPC Act has not been amended to validate the increase in the membership of the board Messrs Oronsanye and Otti should be removed therefrom. In view of the serious implications of the illegal appointment on the activities of the NNPC and the national economy the Federal Government should fire the duo as soon as possible.
“However, if both of them in are retained in the NNPC Board in contravention of the law the Federal Government should be prepared to defend the illegal appointment at the Federal High Court not later than December 31, 2012.”