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Author Name: Nuhu Shuaib
Number of articles: 21
The fundamental truth of democracy, one writer once said, is that the real pleasures of life are increased... (0) Comment

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PTDF: The Guilty Are Afraid
Author: Nuhu Shuaib | October 28, 2006

PTDF: The Guilty Are Afraid The current investigation by the Senate into the activities of the Petroleum Tax Development Fund [PTDF] which came in the wake of the indictment of the Vice President Atiku Abubakar by EFCC and Bayo Ojo led Administrative Panel of Inquiry instituted by President Obasanjo was well applauded by the generality of Nigerians. The Senate in its wisdom set up the independent committee to conduct a fresh probe and that the investigation must be widened to include other related matters including NNPC. This decision was equally applauded on the premise that at the end of the exercise the truth and nothing but the truth would be unravelled. According to our elders, there is no smoke without fire. It is worth mentioning that the Senate under the able leadership of Sen. Ken Nnamani has not disappointed Nigerians unlike in the past when the Senate was a mere appendage of the Presidency. Therefore, the decision to conduct an independent investigation by the Senate, as against the wish of President Obasanjo, can be argued on many grounds. The EFCC report that forms the basis of the indictment of Atiku Abubakar has come under serious criticisms. The EFCC has been regarded as an institution used by the President to witch-hunt perceived opponents. It is not news that the relationship between the two has not been cordial before the EFFC report. The principle of equity and justice demands that an independent body be allowed to conduct a fresh investigation. The Administrative Panel of Inquiry instituted by Obasanjo comprised serving ministers. It is just natural to believe that the report of the Panel was influenced the President. It is curious that Bayo Ojo, head of the Panel, a lawyer and Minister of Justice, who should have known that an administrative panel can not indict but can only advice, went ahead to indict the Vice President. Therefore, any person in his right frame of mind would want a further probe to ascertain the circumstances leading to the indictment. The allegations against the Vice President are so weighty to be swept under the carpet and the Vice President’s response to the allegations could not be ignored either. The Senate agreed to cause a fresh investigation having been so advised by its Committee on Judiciary, Human Rights and Legal Matters headed by Sen. Oserhiemen Abel Osunbor. The onus of proof is on the President to prove his allegations against his Vice and the VP has the right to defend himself. That is democracy at work. So far, if anyone should complain it is the Vice President and not the President. When Atiku Abubakar sent his response to the Senate, his letter was not read on the floor of the house. That is the desire of the President as he is of the view that the Atiku has been indicted and hence the matter is closed. According to Obasanjo, he forwarded the report to the Senate ‘just for the information of the Senators only’. Sen. Ken Nnamani was, however, quick to add that the letter would be made available to the members of the Committee once a procedure was adopted. Atiku did not complain. A day before the composition of the Ad-Hoc Committee, Special Adviser to the President on National Assembly Matters, Florence Ita-Giwa met with some pro-Obasanjo Senators at Transcorp Hilton. Nine Senators of the thirteen members of the Committee are known Obasanjo loyalists leaving only three. One had expected a balanced team to avoid a biased judgement. Again, Atiku did not complain. Right from the onset, the Vice President expressed his willingness to personally attend the Senate hearing to exonerate himself. His campaign office even issued a press statement to collaborate the Vice President’s position. Feelers from the Presidency indicate that the President may not personally attend the hearing but would rather be represented. Is the President too big to be invited by the Senate? After all, the whole process is at the instance of the President. Why is he suddenly scared of the Senate? Whereas the Vice President favours the open hearing procedure to be adopted by the Committee, the President on the other hand prefers a closed hearing. Closed hearing, as we all know, can be subject of manipulation. Hence, the search for the truth which formed the basis of the probe would have eluded us if closed hearing had been adopted. The President should have been happy with the adoption of the open hearing as it would afford him the opportunity to expose his Vice so that he will be vindicated at the end of the probe. Note quite long the news broke out that the President wanted a truce between him and his Vice. Though the arrangement could not achieve the desired objective, we were later to learn that the real reason behind the attempt was to get a temporary settlement so that the President would not have to meet the Senate. Haba, Mr. President! The latest strategy is that of intimidation. The Senate President is being accused of trying to ease out Obasanjo and Atiku as he would be the direct beneficiary in such an event. This is just a distraction and it is diversionary. We call on the Senate President to ignore all malicious allegations and concentrate on his assignment. Nigerians believe in his capability to lead the Senate as he has shown so far. He should approach this case with an open mind just like he did during the debate on the constitutional amendment. He should not allow himself to be manipulated and intimidated in the discharge of his duty. Money could not buy the integrity of the Senate under your leadership. Your name will be written in gold and children yet unborn will see it in years to come. Senator Ken Nnamani restores hope of Nigerians in the Senate. The Senate under his leadership is a clear departure from the previous leaderships where the Senate was a mere rubber stamp of the Executive. We pray for God’s guidance. Nuhu Shuaib Zone 2, Wuse Abuja [ I hold an MBA from Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria]

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