Reps probe indicted looters in N60bn Nigerian Airways fraud

The House of Representatives says it will investigate, reveal and make public, the identities of those indicted in the looting of the defunct Nigerian Airways Ltd. to the tune of N60 billion.

The House also resolved ”to identify those involved and indicted by the white paper with the aim of ensuring they are prosecuted and made to refund the loot.”

The resolution was sequel to a motion, under matters of urgent public importance, moved by Rep James Faleke (APC-Lagos), on Tuesday, at a plenary presided over by Speaker Yakubu Dogara in Abuja.

House of Representatives Faleke noted that long before the advent of the present administration, the Olusegun Obasabjo-led Federal Government had established the Justice Obiora Nwazota Judicial Commission to probe the operations of the company in 2002. According to him, the commission turned in a report which revealed the mind-boggling corruption and looting to the tune of N60 billion.

”The white paper was approved by the Federal Government and further directed the Federal Ministry of Finance and the police to recover the stolen funds and prosecute the indicted culprits,” he said. The lawmaker, however, expressed worry that till date, nothing had been heard of the report.

”Those indicted in the report are believed to be largely visible in the public arena while the ex-workers continue to languish in abject poverty having been denied their rights to their entitlements with many of them reportedly dead without receiving their entitlements.

”The House notes that had the Federal Ministry of Finance and the police acted as directed in the white paper, the ex-workers would not have suffered so much pains and deprivations,” he said. Faleke stressed that despite the release of the white paper and the approval given to the paper as well as the directive on an inquiry into the matter, the previous governments refused to prosecute the culprits indicted in the report.

”The House is further concerned that those who have been identified to have looted this humongous sum of N60bn in 2002, a sum whose value will no doubt be in the region of about N200bn in present day, might have been using the said fund to fight, destabilise the government and in some cases, may have bought their way out of prosecution and possible conviction,” he said.

He, however, noted that the Federal Government under President Muhammadu Buhari had commenced the payment and offsetting of 50 per cent of the outstanding entitlements of the ex-workers in total sum of N22.6 billion. Faleke, who said the payment was the first tranche, said the other part payment of the balance of 50 per cent in same amount would be paid in 2019 due to paucity of funds. When the motion was put to a voice vote by the speaker, the lawmakers unanimously supported it.

The House, therefore, directed the setting up of an ad hoc committee to reveal reasons those indicted in the report of the white paper had not been prosecuted despite the Federal Government’s directive to that effect. It would also identify any civil servant or political office holder who might have used his or her office(s) to thwart or prevent those indicted from prosecution and possible conviction.

The committee was asked to make other appropriate recommendations and report back to the House within four weeks.

VANGUARD

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