Human rights activist and lawyer, Mr Femi Falana (SAN) has commended President Goodluck Jonathan for responding to the allegations raised in chief Olusegun Obasanjo’s 18-page letter but lamented that it failed to address key issues raised by the former president.
Falana, who spoke yesterday in Warri, Delta State, also urged the president to review the letter and tidy up loose ends, on issues bordering on corruption, abuse of power and extra-judicial killings.
He said: “There are areas of the reply that are rather woolly. I think it is not enough to attempt to engage in blackmail; the President must now go further to cause an investigation and prosecution in some of the cases he mentioned rather tangentially (in his reply).
“At the international level, this country has been exposed to ridicule, with the handling of the cases of Halliburton, Wilbros, Siemens and the rest of them. To the best of my knowledge, with the information at my disposal, the US government has made not less than $2bn in terms of fines imposed on those companies for bribing Nigerians.
“It is not enough (for President) to say Halliburton, Siemens and all that did not happen under his regime. Since there is no statute of limitation and these cases exposed Nigerians to ridicule, President Jonathan must now go the whole hog, no matter whose Ox is gored”.
Besides, the former President of the West African Bar Association (WABA) gave Mr. Jonathan knocks over the way he handled the Stella Oduah bullet proof car scandal and the alarm of missing $49.8 billion NNPC unremitted fund, raised by the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) Governor, Malam Sanusi Lamido.
He also dismissed the Minister of Finance, Dr Ngozi Okonzo-Iweala’s explanation that there was a misunderstanding on the purported $49.b billion missing crude oil proceeds and that the only a fraction of that money ($16bn) was yet to be reconciled.
Falana maintained that President Jonathan must adequately clear the mist over similar cases to assure Nigerians that his administration was not cuddling corruption as he was accused of in the letter.
He said: “I also find that area in the letter disturbing where the president said the Governor of the Central Bank didn’t mention his name. He (CBN Governor) came out publicly to say $49bn is missing and now he has apologised.
“It is not enough to apologise; if the Governor of CBN could go all out and tell the whole world that $49bn is missing, it is not enough for Minister of Finance to call a meeting and after the meeting and say ‘we are reconciling, only $12bn has not been traced’.
“No; the Minister of Finance is not the Auditor General of the Federation; it is not her business to audit the accounts of the federation or any account belonging to the Federal Government.
“So President Jonathan must direct the Auditor General of the Federation to audit the account of NNPC, CBN and Ministry of Finance and ensure that we get to the root of criminality in our country or the grand looting of the treasury of our country.
“A minister has been indicted by a panel set up by the President, by the House of Representatives and by the EFCC. What rule of law, what due process are you (President) waiting for? You must fire her; you must also fire other corrupt ministers and government officials that are giving the impression that the regime is comfortable with corruption,” he said.
The lawyer is not pleased with Jonathan’s response to extra-judicial killings, noting the president’s position that the killings occured before he came to power, was not tangible.
“He must now set up proper investigation – because they were covered up in the past – to ensure that we get to the root of these killings, including the killing of the Attorney General and Minister of Justice under President Obasanjo, the late Chief Bola Ige (SAN)”, Falana said.