Why We Can’t Prosecute Indicted Oil Marketers Now

The Federal Government yesterday threw more light on its statement that those indicted by the report of the House of Representatives Ad hoc Committee on the Monitoring of the Fuel Subsidy Scheme would not be prosecuted, stating that the prosecution of offenders would only be done after an independent investigation by anti-corruption agencies.

Counsel to the Attorney General of the Federation (AGF) and Minister of Justice, Chief Adegboyega Awomolo, told reporters in Abuja that the ad hoc committee’s report alone could not be the basis for prosecution.
His statement was meant to allay fears over the government’s lack of commitment to sanitising the oil sector, arising from the averment made by the Attorney General, Mr. Mohammed Adoke, in a counter-affidavit before the Federal High Court, Abuja, that oil marketers indicted by the report would not be prosecuted.

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The counter-affidavit was filed in response to a suit by one of the indicted companies, Integrated Oil and Gas Limited, which is challenging its indictment before the Federal High Court.

In paragraph 6 of the counter-affidavit, which was deposed to by Ayotunde Ogunleye, a lawyer in the chambers of Awomolo, the AGF said: “The report of the committee which is a fact-finding committee will be studied and given to relevant agencies of government but will not prosecute or take legal action against the person or persons indicted by the report.”

While reinforcing government’s commitment to fight corruption, Awomolo said the government was following the rule of law.
According to him, no fact-finding committee can indict a person except the police, the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) and the Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission (ICPC).

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He said the report of the ad hoc committee, which was headed by Hon. Farouk Lawan before his suspension, “is not useless but a foundation for further investigation by the relevant agencies of government like the police, EFCC and the ICPC”.
Awomolo said any person who committed any criminal offence would be investigated and if found wanting by any of the investigating agencies, would be prosecuted by the Federal Government.

“If next week, the report of the investigating agencies on any of the oil companies indicted by the House of Representatives committee is out and it is reliable and conclusive, the Federal Government will go to court and prosecute the company,” he added.
He said the decision to exempt Integrated Oil and Gas from prosecution was based on the fact that the company had invoked the jurisdiction of the court.

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