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Group gives Nigerian govt 2 wks to prosecute officials indicted by fuel subsidy probe

The ‘Save Nigeria Group (SNG) has issued a two-week ultimatum to the federal government to prosecute government officials indicted by a recent probe of the country’s fuel subsidy management.

“Now is the time to act to save our country from the grip of corruption. To this end, we are giving two weeks to see concrete steps in the direction of prosecuting the indicted officials failing which, we shall be calling our people out to protest,” head of the group, Pastor Tunde Bakare, told journalists Monday.

The probe, by an ad-hoc committee of the House of Representatives, made some startling findings, including that huge sums of money were paid out for reasons other than to subsidize fuel.

It therefore recommended that some firms, as well as the state-run Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) and the Petroleum Products Pricing Regulatory Agency (PPPRA), be made to refund funds totalling US$6.7 billion, among other recommendations.

The outcome of the probe, which shows massive corruption in the management of the subsidy, has alarmed Nigerians and triggered calls for the indicted officials to be probed.

The main opposition Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN) has also asked President Goodluck Jonathan to apologize to his compatriots for raising fuel prices in January, instead of first checking the corruption in the sector.

On Monday, Nobel Laureate Wole Soyinka added his voice to the debate generated by the House report, demanding the immediate prosecution of indicted government officials involved in the subsidy scam and calling on Nigerians to be ready to protest against corruption in the country.

“All I can say is that we have been overwhelmed into insensitivity by sheer excess. I have studied very carefully those figures and I have had to take a couple of aspirins after every paragraph, after every figure to ask myself and pinch myself are we really living in the real world? Or whether this is some kind of fantasy world which is projected onto the pages of newspapers.

“These are not figures plucked out in thin air. We have listened very carefully, the sources of these figures are being cited, the reaction of House of Representatives has been noted; but we have not heard any of these figures disputed by the relevant instruments of government.

“One can no longer use the words like disdain and contempt, we have moved beyond that. We are being treated, not even like first or second class citizens, when we are brushed in this way, we are being dehumanized. It goes beyond just insults from arrogance, people who believe that they can get away with murder,” Prof. Soyinka said.

President Jonathan has said his administration will not spare any official indicted by the subsidy probe, which was triggered by the hike in fuel prices in January, which led to a six-day nationwide strike.

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