Human rights lawyer, Mr. Femi Falana (SAN), on Sunday called on President Muhammadu Buhari to refer the $25bn contract scam allegations leveled against the Group Managing Director of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation, Mr. Maikanti Baru, to the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission for investigation.
He also said, in a statement that, during EFCC’s investigation “into the grave allegations of the reckless contravention of the provisions of the Public Procurement Act” the President should place Baru on an indefinite suspension.
He also called on Buhari to relinquish the position of the substantive Minister of Petroleum Resources due to the President’s “busy schedule” and appoint another Nigerian of proven integrity and competence to take up the position.
He added that if his advice was heeded to, relinquishing the said ministerial position would “remove undue pressure on the health of the President and allow him to attend to urgent matters of the state”.
Falana made these suggestions following what he described as “the embarrassing petition of the Minister of State in the Ministry of Petroleum Resources, Dr. Ibe Kachukwu, addressed to President Buhari pertaining to his inability to consult with the President and substantive Minister of Petroleum Resources” and “the unilateral award of $25bn contracts” by the NNPC’s GMD.
The senior lawyer also said on Sunday that officials who created the wide gulf between Kachikwu and the President should be punished.
He added that the $25bn contract should be revoked once the EFCC investigation once confirmed that they were awarded without the approval of the NNPC Board, adding that the recent appointment of the heads of the parastatals in the oil and gas industry should be reviewed.
He stated, “ Although it was reported that Dr. Kachukwu has since been given access to the President the details of the discussions between the duo have been not been made public.
“However, apart from sanctioning the officers responsible for creating the wide gulf between Dr. Kachukwu and the President, the allegation of the unilateral award of contracts worth $25bn by Dr. Baru ought to be investigated in line with the anti-corruption policy of the Buhari administration.
“In order to conduct a thorough investigation into the grave allegations of the reckless contravention of the provisions of the Public Procurement Act Mr. Baru should be placed on indefinite suspension while the presidency should refer the case to the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission.”