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Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Nigeria: Extend Oil Subsidy Investigation to FBI


The removal of fuel subsidy on petrol provoked a nationwide strike in January with mass protests on the streets of Nigeria until the government reached an amicable settlement with Organized Labour. Photo Credit: Nigerian Times.


Extend Oil Subsidy Investigation to FBI

~ John Egbeazien Oshodi, Ph.D.

The Nigerian Federal Government is reportedly already getting the United States of America to assist our law enforcement agencies to investigate ways to properly tackle terrorism and the American Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) is the agency that is assisting the Nigerian authorities.

If there is any other time to get assistance from the FBI this is the time.
Unlike the Nigerian insurgency problem that is complexly marked with cultural, linguistic, religious, ethnic and political challenges; issues that could affect a non-African law enforcement agency like the FBI, the current oil subsidy case with all of its forensic accounting and economic complexes is a perfect fit for the FBI.
Now that the Honorable Farouk Lawan-led House of Representatives panel on the subsidy probe has handed their findings to the executive arm of the Nigerian government the FBI investigators should immediately be called in as a matter of urgency to begin a collaborative work with the Nigerian government’s law enforcement agencies and crime squads.

President Jonathan who is known for his fight against criminality as in terrorism has continuously called for help from international powers to fight insurgency.
In this regard, he should make FBI’s participation in the subsidy investigation an urgent matter and give quick authorization to this call as this sort of approach will give the Nigerian people full blown confidence in regards to President Jonathan, dealing with this huge financial case meritoriously.

The President should also see that the Minister of Justice Bello Adoke known for his promise to help the nation uphold the rule of law leave the police and the FBI to work on this case with independently, with no political interference.
Also, during the prosecution face of this case an independent prosecutor with high ethical spirit and professional conduct should be appointed on the case.

There is already a warning from civil society organizations for Nigerians to be on the watch out in order to see how this ultra-case is being handled by the presidency and the entire Nigerian political leadership.

There is no doubt that from the nature of this case as presented by the Farouk Lawan-led House of Representatives panel that the matter assets the risk of anger among every reasonable and patriotic Nigerian.

The warnings from the civil society groups are arriving at a time when the people are already disillusioned over the conditions of poverty, poor infrastructure and national insecurity.

The subsidy matter is the latest blast with all of its string of economic, commercial, and monetary excesses which could further highlight the people’s pain and anger.

This rising economic tension in the country plus the already religious tension could further exacerbate more problems collectively, across our multi-ethnic and multi-religious society, especially if a host of things are not done properly along the lines of justice and the rule of law.

Recently the Chief Justice of Nigeria (CJN) Dahiru Musdapher described Nigeria as possibly incurably corrupt and viewed the judiciary that will be handling the subsidy offenders as part of the long standing corrupt atmosphere, therefore assisting in undermining true justice in our nation.

The Chief Justice concern about unethical and corrupt practices among some judicial officers is of particular interest as the subsidy cases will reach the courts, and unless the assigned judges show depth of professionalism, public confidence on the subsidy case could fall low, and make the citizens slump further to a level of hopelessness and anger.

In the future, the assigned Justices on the subsidy matter must ensure that the judicial system remain economically, tribally and socially neutral so as to safeguard our already fragile democracy.

Safeguarding the justice system is so essential at this time, especially when the chief judge has already sounded that representationally a corrupt judge could be more dangerous to the society than a man who runs amok with a dagger in a jam-packed street.

This is the time when the government with the possible help of the FBI should painstakingly carry out a line of criminal investigations, and build a full case that will stand the test of strenuous prosecution against those found defective in terms of law abiding behaviors.

In this regard, a thorough investigation need to be anchored on a set of sophisticated financial investigations and this is where the FBI will provide their forensic accounting tools to help address a very complex case like the subsidy fraud matter.

The FBI along with the Nigerian detectives using all the necessary tools used in financial crimes investigations could help uncover this mass financial fraud and huge case of public corruption.

This matter which occurred in President Jonathan’s time is not only to be placed on a scale of national priority within the context of other principal issues facing the nation but it may become a case that from all angles cut across all forms of public corruption, corporate irregularities, financial crimes and human rights violations.
The Farouk Lawan-led committee has shown that the mass theft by some powerful Nigerian officials and various oil firms has cost the country over N1 trillion, therefore, it is essential that feeling of politicking and acts of partisanship are not brought into this matter as such games will not work at this critical time.
This present financial mismanagement and swindling is more of a moral, psychic, physical and societal matter that could cause incalculable pain not just to Nigerians of today but to generations to come.

Therefore the call for collaboration between the FBI and the Nigerian law enforcement agencies’ is a psychological test that the government should pass or in the absence of this common sense approach, it could face a bitter test from the people and that could include acts of mass outcry against what they may perceive as an unjust system of government in the nation.

~ John Egbeazien Oshodi, Ph.D., is an Abuja-based Forensic/Clinical Psychologist. Jos5930458@aol.com 08126909839.

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