Dr Ogbonnaya Onu
The All Nigeria Peoples Party (ANPP) has frowned on the reported plan by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) to enter into a plea bargain for suspects arraigned in court for fuel subsidy fraud.
The party said it viewed such a move as tantamount to another fraud against Nigerians.
A statement issued Thursday by its National Publicity Secretary, Chief Emma Eneukwu, urged people to resist any attempt to miscarry justice in the prosecution of the fuel subsidy fraud suspects.
“We call for judicial vigilance on the part of the people; and also call on members of the National Assembly, as the peoples’ representatives, to ensure that this new development in the subsidy cases do not set the stage for a massive shortchanging of the Federal Government by indicted subsidy fraudsters. It is either they refund the monies they stole in full, or they face the full wrath of the law,” he said.
He said the party’s attention was drawn to a news report yesterday that the EFCC has entered into ‘discussion’ with Mahmud Tukur, son of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) National Chairman, Bamanga Tukur, alongside Abdullahi Alao, son of business tycoon, Arisekola Alao, and Alex Ochonogor, over their role in the fuel subsidy scam.
According to him, the alleged move was in a bid to get the suspects off the hook in the subsidy trial.
He listed affected companies to include, Eternal Oil and Gas Plc, which allegedly obtained N1.9 billion from the Petroleum Support Fund for a purported importation of 80.3 million litres of petrol.
“In as much as our great party believes in the sanctity of the law of the land, and its instrument and processes, we are nevertheless strongly convinced that entering into a plea bargain with suspects in the opprobrious fuel subsidy scam is tantamount to another daylight robbery of the Nigerian people.
“It is an incontrovertible truth that investigations into the fuel subsidy regime and the subsequent mindboggling revelations about the robbery of the Nigerian people were brought about by the nationwide demonstrations of the masses early this year when the Federal Government demonstrated gross insensitivity by removing the subsidy on fuel.
“In other words, it was the people that inspired the ongoing arraignment of the subsidy fraudsters. Hence, it is to the people that they should refund all that have been stolen from them,” he said.
The ANPP spokesman said though the purpose of plea bargain under the Criminal Procedure Act and section 13(2) of the EFCC Act is mostly asset recovery; but the peculiar political atmosphere in Nigeria is sure to make mockery of this legal procedure as serial criminals enmeshed in manifest raids of the peoples commonwealth use it to meander out of the net of justice.
He described the application of plea bargain in the Nigerian context as being of ‘‘dubious origin,’’ adding that there was a sneaky motive behind its introduction into our legal system as evident in its application.