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S/West group insists on probe of Obasanjo, others over $16bn power projects


S/West group insists on probe of Obasanjo, others over $16bn power projectsThe federal government has been urged to call upon the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) and or other relevant anti-corruption agencies to investigate the $16 billion and other funds spent on the power sector under successive administrations since the return to democratic governance in 1999.

Making the call in Lagos on Friday during a press conference addressed by its chairman, Oseni Owolabi Ajimomuya and Secretary,

Ismael Lanre Oguntoyinbo, the South West Peoples Assembly (SWEPA) said if this is not done upon the conclusion of the probe into the spendings in the power sector embarked upon by the 9th House of Representatives, Nigerians may finally lose faith in the current democratic experiment.

The House of Representatives had, before proceeding on its annual break, put in place a committee to look into the spendings in the power sector since 1999 to date.

Following a motion by one of its members, the Lower Chamber lamented many power problems confronting the country, saying it is worrisome that the huge resources allegedly spent on getting it right in the sector did not yield any fruit.

SWEPA claimed that in spite of promises by successive administrations to reposition the nation’s troubled power sector, monumental and obvious scandals perpetrated by past administrations, including the ones headed by former Presidents Olusegun Obasanjo and Goodluck Jonathan, have not been properly investigated and the culprits prosecuted and duly punished.

“This conference has become necessary due to the conversation on probing the power sector started by the Young Nigerian Professionals who delivered a Press Conference on Sunday last week in the nation’s capital, Abuja, about the decision of the House of Representatives to probe the power sector spending in the country. The group had called for unrelenting efforts by the House in that probe, while noting the necessity of accountability as a nation if we were to make any progress,” the group said.

SWEPA, at the press conference held at the Sheraton Hotel, Lagos added that, “we agree wholeheartedly with the House of Representatives and the body of young professionals on this issue. But we will like to take the discussion further by demanding for specific interrogation of key individuals in the whole power mismanagement saga. It’s our belief that there are known actors that were responsible for overseeing the sleaze that took place in the power sector spending since 1999.

“The most prominent, as every Nigerian possibly knows, is former President Olusegun Obasanjo – who is reported to have spent a whopping sum of about 16 Billion Dollars on power, with nothing worthy or credible to show for it. This is one major reason behind our decision to commend the House of Representatives for its decision to again re-investigate the power sector spending and join other well meaning Nigerians in demanding for nothing short of a thorough inquest.

“It is our belief that what the House is set to do represents justice for the people of Nigeria who have had to bear the burden and pain associated with the poor power situation in the country. Until this investigation and other related efforts that ensure transparency and openness are undertaken, Nigeria cannot really move forward or record any significant progress. The unearthing of the sleaze that took place in the power sector is key if we want to start a new footing that ensures proper accountability going forward.

“While we are confident that the investigation by the House of Representatives would unmask the fraud that was committed by former President Olusegun Obasanjo and his cronies in the power sector; we demand that the House should, upon the completion of its investigation, endeavor to submit the name of the former President and his conspirators to the country’s anti-corruption agencies, the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) and the Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission (ICPC), for full prosecution.

“The ultimate goal is not to undertake a futile ‘name and shame exercise’, rather we want to see a situation where all those involved would face punishment for their crimes against the country.

While he and his co-travelers must be made to return all stolen monies, we demand that Chief Olusegun Obasanjo live up to his avowed commitment to transparency by coming forward to explain his role in the alleged mismanagement of power funds; without directing all those who seek to hold him to account to a self-serving and delusional book whose account has not exonerated him of active involvement in the sleaze.

“No doubt, only a comprehensive prosecution that is in tandem with justice will send a strong message to all those who have either managed or still managing our resources that Nigerians will no longer tolerate any corrupt act by anyone, no matter how highly placed. This is the only way we can sanitize the power sector and begin to reset the country.”

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