Teddy Nwanunobi, Abuja
Senate on Wednesday summoned the Attorney General of the Federation (AGF) and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami, to throw more light on the alleged fresh plot to abduct Senator Buruji Kashamu by the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA) to the United States for trial on phantom charges of drug trafficking.
This was sequel to a petition forwarded to its Committee on Ethics, Privileges and Public Petitions by Kashamu’s lawyer, Mr. Ajibola Oluyede, over plans to abduct the embattled senator by the Agency.
Oluyede, who had alleged that plan to abduct Kashamu to the U.S. for trial has reached advanced stage, explained that the plan, coded ‘rendition plot’, is always used by the American government against fugitives or terrorists.
Maintaining that Kashamu cannot be said to be none of the above, Oluyede further alleged that the person behind the plot is the immediate past Chairman of NDLEA, Ahmadu Giade.
According to Oluyede, Giade had failed in achieving such illegal action against Kashamu as the NDLEA boss through court pronouncements, but now wants to achieve it as Special Assistant (SA) on Narcotics to the AGF.
“We have it on good authority that the former Chairman of NDLEA, Ahmadu Giade, who is now a special assistant on Narcotics to the Attorney General of the Federation, is hell bent in achieving what he failed to illegally achieve against our client, Buruji Kashamu.
“Specifically, whistle blowers within the Agency have informed us that abduction plan against our client is being perfected. The reason why we are here before you is to call the Agency to order, since competent court of jurisdiction had ruled against such harassment and plots in May last year.
“The NDLEA, under Giade, on the 23rd of May last year invaded the Lagos residence of Senator Buruji Kashamu on the same phantom allegation, but asked to vacate the place by the Federal High Court in Lagos on the 27th of the same month, with ruling that: ‘Nigeria had no business operating with foreign government against Kashamu on matters that had been adjudicated upon years back in favour of the senator’,” he explained.
While describing the said whistle blowers within NDLEA as internal conspirators, the Deputy Chairman of the Committee, Senator Bala Ibn Na’Allah, however, noted that it ss wrong for the Agency to be carrying out any of its operations without regard for the rule of law since such alleged plots had been ruled against in the court of law.
Na’Allah added that based on facts on ground, the Senate reasoned along with the petitioner by frowning against a situation where a public servant would refuse to obey a pronouncement of court.
He, therefore, submitted that any purported plot against him by the Agency should be discarded for now, in view of the legal status between Kashamu and the Federal Government.
Na’Allah also suggested that the AGF be summoned for explanations.
“Our best option is to invite the Attorney General to come and explain the circumstances surrounding this new plot to abduct Senator Kashamu,” he suggested.
A submission the Committee’s Chairman, Senator Samuel Anyanwu, ruled over by telling the NDLEA officials present to maintain status quo, pending the completion of thorough investigation into the allegation.
“We have heard his case, and we have asked questions. Having heard from you, the Solicitor to Kashamu, you may now leave and be rest assured that the Committee has heard you. And we will hear from the other correspondents, and we will come up with a position on this issue.
“Meanwhile, I think it is obvious that when we make our investigation, we will put down our report to the entire Senate. We have to invite the parties involved, and not in representative capacity to answer to the allegations.
“This allegation concerns Giade, and whatever the Senate will arrive at, he is equally going to be affected by it. So, it is only fair that we hear from him.
“This matter is before the Senate, and we think status quo should remain until we look at the issues in the petition and come up with a position,” Anyanwu said.
The NDLEA Chairman, Abdallah, through his representative, asked to be excused from the investigation since the matter is before the Court of Appeal.
Similarly, the AGF and former NDLEA boss (Mrs. Roli Bode George), also asked for more time to appear before the Committee.
Senate on Wednesday summoned the Accountant-General of the Federation (AGF), Ahmed Idris, to appear before it over the non remittances of some Federal Government agencies’ contributions to the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC).
This was sequel to the directive from the Chairman of the Senate Committee on Niger Delta, Senator Peter Nwaoboshi, when the management of the Nigerian Liquefied Natural Gas (NLNG) and Ecological Fund Office (EFO) appeared before the panel to explain reasons why they were not making their obligation to the NDDC.
Nwaoboshi said the amount due for payment to the NDDC from the NLNG and the EFO, which the refused to pay since the last 16 years was colossal and insisted that they had by their action, disobeyed the nation’s laws.
“The next step the Committee would take now is to invite the Accountant-General of the Federation and investigate the matter to know why the two agencies of government had not been remitting what is due to the NDDC to it,” he directed.
He explained that the Committee was conducting an holistic investigation into the activities of the NDDC, especially why they were not performing well, despite the huge resources at their disposal.
“What we want to do is to find out first, the claims in some quota that colossal amount had been given to the people of Niger Delta region through the NDDC hence there is nothing on the ground.
“We want to, know how much the agency had received so far from year 2000 to date. What are the projects they had executed with the money.
“We want to know those who are contributing to the agency. We have asked the Managing Director of the NLNG, Mr. Babs Omotowa, and he said that they have not been contributing money to the NDDC.
“They showed us a Supreme Court judgement which described NLNG as a gas processing company and that there is a gas Act that came before that of NDDC Act. They argued that the NDDC Act has not repealed the Gas Act,” he said.
Nwaoboshi said that the NLNG claimed that the Gas Act has given them tax holiday and that they have been carrying out their corporate social responsibilities in their host communities within the Niger Delta region.
“We we are lawmakers and we are going to revisit the two Acts. We will go into the root of the matter. We don’t just make laws for the purpose of making it. Laws are meant to be obeyed. If government agencies and institutions refused to obey the law, why do we talk about the rule of law? Laws made by the National Assembly should be obeyed,” he said.
Nwaoboshi said that everybody has been complaining that the NDDC was not performing, but they did not know that the Agency had not been receiving its dues especially from the oil companies.
He said the oil companies were supposed to pay three percent of their budget to NDDC, but that they were giving less than that.
“When they came before our committee, I read out the Act to them and some of them started apologising. They said they thought that they were supposed to pay three percent of the projects that they execute in their communities. There has been total disregard and respect for the NDDC Act and nobody will allow that,” he said.
The Permanent Secretary, EFO, Mr. Mohammed Abass, explained to the committee that the NDDC was supposed to receive its funding from the states and local governments share of the fund.
“The Ecological Fund Office has made contributions not to the NDDC. Our office receives one percent of the approved money due to the consolidated fund which is the Federal Government share of the federation account.
“Every other state in the federation receives one percent of the fund too. The account is called derivation and ecology.
“The Fiscal Allocation Committee shares two percent of the funds in the federation account to the federal, states and local governments. The Federal Government receives 48.5 percent, states receives 24 percent while the local governments receive 20 percent.
“The ecological Fund Office manages the federal government share. Therefore, the Ecological Fund Office is not supposed to fund any state from its own resources because every state gets their own share of the allocation from the federation account and not from the consolidated revenue fund.
“I believe that the NDDC should receive funding from the shares due to states and local governments. The distribution of the shares of states and local governments are being controlled by the office of the Accountant-General of the Federation.
“There was no time that the NDDC has come to us to ask for funding. The fund we handle is used by the Federal Government to carry out intervention in states,” he said.