PTDF scam: Obasanjo, Atiku abused their offices – Senate; It's blackmail – OBJ's aide

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TRIBUNE

PTDF scam: Obasanjo, Atiku abused their offices – Senate, It’s a blackmail – OBJ’s aide

Soji-Eze Fagbemi, Abuja – 28.02.2007

AS the Senate begins debate on the report of the ad-hoc committee that investigated the alleged corruption that characterised the operations of the Petroleum Technology Development Fund (PTDF) today, the report has indicted both President Olusegun Obasanjo and Vice President Atiku Abubakar of using their offices to encourage and perpetrate corruption.

Specifically, the report, which was laid before the Senate by the committees’s chairman, Senator Victor Ndoma-Egba, said President Obasanjo and Vice President Abubakar abused their offices by “aiding and abetting the diversion of public funds either for other projects or for fraudulent deposit in banks.”

Page 49 of the 54-page report highlighted the release of N20 billion and N10 billion to the PTDF and the use of the money to fund the third term agenda as alleged by the vice president, and the committee accused the president of acting in disregard of the law.

Though, the report stated that President Obasanjo gave approval for the money and other projects in 2006 and subsequently got the ratification of the Federal Executive Council (FEC), it concluded that the FEC ratification did not absolve the president, as the FEC was also accused of acting in disregard of the law establishing the PTDF.

The report said: “In respect of some projects commenced by PTDF in 2006 for which the president, Chief Olusegun Obasanjo, gave approval and subsequently obtained the ratification of the Federal Executive Council, laudable as they seem, were outside the mandate of the PTDF as provided for in Section 2 of the enabling Act.

“The President, Chief Obasanjo, and the Federal Executive Council acted in disregard of the law establishing the PTDF. Though the ratification by the Federal Executive Council may mitigate this breach of the law, it, however, does not absolve the president and the Federal Executive Council.”

However, while the committee stated that Vice President Abubakar should be sanctioned “for any offences disclosed,” it recommended that “the president be advised to adhere strictly to the provisions of the law establishing the PTDF at all times in either approving projects, expenditure of funds or howsoever.”

In respect of the progress report on the Obasanjo administration and photographs for the State House library, the committee recommended that the sum of N4.5 million released for the project must be refunded as the project was outside the contemplation of Section 2 of the PTDF Act.

Besides, the committee said that all the projects be further verified and evaluated by the relevant committees of the Senate, which were also advised to be alive to their oversight responsibilities over the PTDF.

The committee accused Vice President Abubakar and said: “that His Excellency, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar, Vice President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria from 1999 to 2007, abused his office by aiding and abetting the diversion of public funds in the sums of $125 million and $20 million respectively approved for specific projects to deposits in banks, some of which were fraudulently converted as loans to NDTV, Mofas Shipping Company Limited and Transvari Services Limited and should be sanctioned for any offences disclosed.”

The 13-man committee also recommended that Otunba Oyewole Fasawe should be made to refund the sums of N400 million purported loan to NDTV from TIB, N420 million purported loan to Mofas Shipping Company Limited and N730 million purported loan to NDTV, and be prosecuted, and stated that the EFCC had already recovered N100 million from him.

One Ahmed Vanderpuye should also be made to refund the sum of N300 million purported loan to Transvari Services Limited from TIB, while Hussein Jallo, Executive Secretary of PTDF from July 2005 to November 2005, having abused his office through criminal acts and from whom N49 million and six vehicles have been recovered by the EFCC was recommended to be prosecuted.

The report stated that Hamisu Abubakar, Executive Secretary of the PTDF from September 2000 to July 2005, abused his office by diverting public funds in the sums of $125 million and $20 million approved for specific project to deposits in banks, some of which were fraudulently converted as loans to the three companies involved in the scandal.

The committee said the EFCC had already recovered N200 million from him, and added that he should be prosecuted.

After laying the report on the table before the Senate, the Senate President, Chief Ken Nnamani, said the Senate would take it up today, adding, “we have to be objective with our debate. The time of propaganda is over, I urge every Senator to go through it. I will initial every page to ensure no doctoring.”

He said copies would be made available to all Senators. In his reaction to the story, the Special Assistant to the President on Public Matters, Malam Uba Sani, said linking President Obasanjo to the corruption was an attempt to blackmail the president.

He said it would be unreasonable to link President Obasanjo with corruption in whatever form. Meanwhile, Vice President Abubakar yesterday described the report as a partisan political hatchet job that would not stand the test of public scrutiny.

In a statement by the Atiku Campaign Organi-sation, Vice President Abubakar said the conclusions of the committee were inconsistent with the abundant evidence put at its disposal by himself and several witnesses who appeared before it.

“The three critical issues are (i) Was the approval of the Federal Executive Council (FEC) needed for the placement of PTDF funds? (ii) Was any money lost in the investment of PTDF money in ETB and TIB? (iii) Was there any material link established between the vice president and the PTDF funds?

“The evidence before the committee confirmed our position. As at December 2006, over N19 billion of PTDF money was invested in banks and there was no single evidence that FEC approval was secured for it. This is a confirmation that the investment in TIB and ETB did not require a FEC approval, the transactions passed through the Auditor-General’s office as required by law. The conclusion of the committee, therefore, is inconsistent with the facts at its disposal.

“On the issue of whether PTDF money was diverted to the friends of the vice president, the evidence of ETB, Springbank (which acquired TIB) and the legal consultant to the PTDF committee confirm our position that no PTDF fund was diverted to private use.”

CHAMPION

February 28, 2007

 

Senate panel indicts OBJ, Atiku over PTDF

•VP accused of diversion of $125m, $20m
•Fashawe to refund N1.55bn loan, N400m collected from TIB, N420m from MOFAS, N730m loan to NDTV
•Ex-sec, Adamu Waziri to refund N4.5m spent on photographs
•President , FEC acted in disregard of PTDF law

COSMAS EKPUNOBI, Abuja

SENATE Adhoc Committee on the controversial Petroleum Technology Development Fund (PTDF) yesterday indicted President Olusegun Obasanjo and Vice President Atiku Abubakar of abuse of the agency’s fund between 1999 and 2006.

The Senator Victor Ndoma-Egba-led panel in a 54-page report specifically accused Atiku of “aiding and abetting the diversion of $145 million (about N18.5 billion) of the PTDF money, noting that he connived with the past chief executive of the agency to convert PTDF’s money to loans using some companies suspected to be owned by his friends.

Similarly, the committee indicted Otunba Johnson Fashawe of corrupt practice and ordered him to refund N1.55bn loan to government coffers.

Reacting, the Presidency through Senior Special Assistant (Media) to the President, Mrs Oluremi Oyo said the Senate Committee did not indict President Obasanjo unlike others asked to refund various sums of money.

Speaking with Daily Champion on phone last night, Mrs Oyo said, “The President has noted the Senate Committee report and commends the Senate for its oversight functions and the panel’s acknowledgement of the projects approved by the Presidency and the Federal Executive Council (FEC) as laudable ones for the overall development of the country.

“The President wishes to clarify in particular that the FEC allocation to the African Institute of Science and Technology is actually to the Gulf of Guinea Institute for Petroleum and Gas within the Institute.

“The Gulf of Guinea Institute is for the training of skilled manpower for the oil and gas sector not only for Nigeria but for other oil producing countries in Africa.

“As regards the petroleum Training Institute in Warri, the President believes it falls within the ambit of the PTDF.

“The provision of computers for the civil service and institutions represents the President’s wide interpretation of the role of the PTDF”

Reacting to the Senate panel’s report, Vice President Atiku Abubakar described it “as a partisan political hatchet job that will not stand the test of public scrutiny,” while calling the Senate to reject the report, “in the spirit of justice, fairness and equity.”

Efforts to reach aides of President Obasanjo and Information Minister, Mr Frank Nweke proved abortive last night as their phones were switched off.

Similarly, the Senator Ndoma-Egba led committee’s is report which may have jolted the presidency alleged that certain projects for which President Olusegun Obasanjo and the Federal Executive Council (FEC) released the PTDF money for implementation were not covered by the law establishing the fund.

Senate yesterday resolved to commence full scale debate on the report.

Senate President Chief Ken Nnamani in his brief remarks after the report was laid before the Senate, specifically promised to put his initials on each page of the documents (Report) and circulate same to Senators before the close of work.

He said his action was to avoid “doctoring” the report of the committee.

He told his colleagues yesterday that with the presentation of the committee’s report, ‘the time for propaganda was over”.

Chairman of the committee however yesterday declined comment on the report, insisting that details will be made public when the Senate President further authenticate the report.

But the committee’s report made available to Daily Champion however indicted a personal friend of the Vice President Otunba Johnson Oyewole Fashawe of corrupt practice.

In fact the committee recommended that Otunba Fashawe should refund a total sum of N1.55 billion which he took as loan to the PTDF without decay.

The committee which noted that the economic and financial crime commission (EFCC) had since recovered from Fashawe N100 million out of the N1.5 billion also recommended immediate prosecution of the business mogul for fraud.

The panel in its recommendation (K) sub-section (1) noted “that Otunba Fashawe should be made to refund the sums of N400 million purported loan to NDTV from TIB, N420 million purported loan to Mofas Shipping Company Limited and N730 million purported loan to NDTV”

He was alleged to have obtained the said loan using his three companies which the panel noted have not been recovered and paid back to the PTDF.

Recommendation (V) of the committee’s report read: that this His Excellency, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar, vice president of the federal republic of Nigeria from 1999 to 2007 abused his office by aiding and abetting the diversion of public funds in the sums of $125 million and $20 million respectively approved for specific projects to deposit in banks, some of which were fraudulently converted as loans to NDTV, Mofas shipping company limited and transvari service limited”.

The committee in recommended that the Vice President should be sanctioned for the fraudulent diversion.

The report did not spare President Obasanjo, and the FEC as it noted that it was gross violation of section of the PTDF Act for the President to cause the use of the PTDF money to establish the African institute of Science and Technology in Abuja .

The report also faulted President Obasanjo’s approval and subsequent ratification of same by FEC of the incorporation of Galaxy Back Bone Plc and purchase of computers for civil servants under the Computer for all Nigerians initiative (CANI).

According to report, the use of PTDF money for such projects was against Section 2 of the PDTF the which prescribed projects that can be undertaken by the agency.

According to the report, the President and FEC acted in disregard of the law establishing the PTDF.

It also noted that though the ratification of such projects may have mitigated the breach of the law, it however does not absolve the president and the FEC.

The committee did not only advise the President to adhere strictly to the provisions of the law establishing PTDF at all times, but insisted that the said projects approved by him should be verified and evaluated immediately.

The committee also asked the former secretary of the agency Alhaji Adamu Waziri to refund the sum of N4.5 million which he approved for photographs for the State House library.

The committee which insisted that all projects approved for the PTDF from 2003 till date should be verified and evaluated also approved full scale investigation into the controversial marine float accounts.

Again it ruled that all “taxes payable on the bill by Emmanuel Chamber, (suspected counsel to the President, should be recovered by the PTDF and paid over to the relevant tax authorities of the land.

Meanwhile the committee alleged that some of the accounts kept in the name of PTDF by the accountant general of the federation were not known to the PTDF.

According to the report the decision to restrict the funding of the PTDF to a limit of 25 per cent signature bonuses or $100 million per annum which ever is lower was done without legal backing.

Also indicted was the former secretary of PTDF, Alhaji Hamisu Abubakar, whom the report alleged participated in the diversion of $145 million for specific projects by PTDF.

The report noted that EFCC had recovered N200 million from Alhaji Abubakar who was the fund scribe between 200 and 2005.

The report also alleged that his successor in office Alhaji Hussein Jallo had through “criminal acts obtain six vehicles adding that the sum of N49 million has been recovered from him (Jallo) while the committee recommended the immediate prosecution of Alhaji Jallo and Hamisu for the alleged fraud.

The Vice President in a statement by the Atiku campaign organisation said the Senate committee’s report was inconsistent with evidence he put forward and several witnesses’ inputs during the probe.

He wondered if the “predominantly pro-third term members of the committee had yielded to pressures from a vindictive, do or die president.”

Below is Atiku’s detailed reaction to the Senate committee’s indictment:

“The three critical issues are (i) Was the approval of the Federal Executive Council (FEC) needed for the placement of PTDF funds? (ii) Was any money lost in the investment of PTDF money in ETB and TIB? (iii) Was there any material link established between the Vice President and the PTDF funds?

“The evidence before the committee confirmed our position. As at December 2006, over N19 billion of PTDF money was invested in banks and there was no single evidence that FEC approval was secured for it. This is a confirmation that the investment in TIB and ETB did not require a FEC approval, the transactions passed through the Auditor-General’s office as required by law. The conclusion of the Committee therefore is inconsistent with the facts at its disposal.

“On the issue of whether PTDF money was diverted to the friends of the Vice President, the evidence of ETB, Springbank (which acquired TIB) and the Legal Consultant to the PTDF committee confirm our position that no PTDF money was diverted to public use. For clarity of purpose, the three agencies submitted that:

“It is not possible to link a particular deposit or placement to someone…if there is anything like that, the CBN would have sanctioned us…If the EFCC has any evidence to that effect let them submit it. The CBN has gone through this account, gone through our banking operations and found out that there was nothing like that…The criteria for loans and deposits acceptance are different, one goes by deposit criteria outlined by members of a bank’s management while the other by the risk criteria set by the board, submitted Mr Emmanuel O. Ikechukwu,

Managing Director of ETB (See Public Hearing Report of the PTDF Senate Committee, 18th December 2006 pages 62-64).

The former Managing Director of TIB, Mr Amos Segun Adepoju in his submission said, “in banking, loans are not generally matched to deposits. As such no loans were specifically granted from PTDF deposits. Deposits are placed in a pool called treasury from where credits are extended to customers” (Public Hearing Report of 18th December 2006, page 106). On pages 110, he was also quoted as saying, “In the course of processing and packaging these facilities, TIB (now SpringBank) accepts responsibilities for any lapses in the operational procedure. He however, was quick to add that there is no nexus between PTDF and the accounts to which facilities were advanced.”

The Legal Consultant to the PTDF committee stated as follows on the question of whether PTDF funds were the ones advanced as loan to MOFAS and Globacom: “There is testimony that the sum deposit made by PTDF in Trans International Bank were made for the purpose of granting “loans” to third parties…The question is whether it is PTDF monies that were paid out as “loans”. The following statement of the law may be helpful in dealing with this issue.

“Generally, if a customer pays money into a bank, a debtor/creditor relationship is created. The money belongs to the bank and it can pay it out as its own money (Memo of the Legal Consultant to the PTDF Committee, pages 6-7).

The Committee ignored the professional submissions of these people but opted for the evidence of one Mr Dumebi Kachikwu who admitted that he “was invited hereby by the EFCC as a witness to EFCC presentation” (Report of Public Hearing, of December 15, 2006, page 81), that the loans have a relationship with the PTDF deposit without a single documentary evidence.

The Vice President Abubakar is surprised that the committee left the avalanche of evidence he provided to exonerate himself and to clearly prove that it was President Obasanjo who had been looting the PTDF funds. Although he is not unmindful of possible unrelenting political pressures on Committee members from those hell-bent on destroying him politically, Atiku could not have imagined that the committee would come out with such a glaring partisan report.

On the final issue of whether the investment in question was lost, the Vice President re-states his position that no money was lost in the transaction in spite of the false claims by EFCC and the Senate Committee.

“The managing director of Spring Bank, the bank that took over the TIB gave evidence that the fund is safe and that they have agreed to repay it. It is therefore surprising that the Committee will conclude, contrary to the evidence before it, that the money is lost.”

The conclusions of the Committee regarding President Olusegun Obasanjo, is however the greatest evidence that the Committee is biased in its report. In spite of the avalanche of evidence against his handling of the affairs of the PTDF, the committee merely recommended that the President should be advised to follow due process.

It is intriguing that in spite of at least 10 cases of abuse of office by the President, the Committee feels it was merely a “due process matter.” It is equally strange that while PTDF officials confirm the position of the Vice President, that N20 billion PTDF money approved by the President in the heat of the obnoxious Third-Term Scheme, could not be traced, the Committee did deem it as appropriate to sanction the President or investigate the allegations that the money was used for the Third –Term agenda.

It is equally curious that the committee did not see anything wrong in the President approving the payment of a whopping N250 million to his personal lawyer and friend for the mere act of registering a company, which actual cost was not more than N23 million. What further evidence did the committee need to realize that it was the President, his friends and cronies who had looted the PTDF?

“I call on the Senate to look closely at the Committee Report, identify its illogicalities, bias, and inconsistencies, and reject it in the interest of fairness, equity, and justice.

“We have been confident that in spite of the closeness of most members of the Committee to President Obasanjo and the fact that 10 of the 13 members are in the PDP which has developed Atiku-phobia, we have always thought the assignment will be handled with the greatest sense of responsibility and patriotism. Perhaps, we had carried our optimism of the members’ sense of fairness too far,” the statement concluded. 

 

THE SUN

PTDF: Senate probe report indicts Obasanjo, Atiku By ISMAIL OMIPIDAN, Abuja and TOPE ADEBOBOYE, Lagos

Wednesday, February 28, 2007

 

A day ahead of its earlier scheduled date, the Senate on Tuesday formally received the long awaited report of its ad hoc committee that probed the management of the Petroleum Technology Development Fund (PTDF), with the report indicting both President Olusegun Obasanjo and Vice President Atiku Abubakar.

Atiku and his party, Action Congress (AC), have, however, faulted the committee’s report, asking the Senate to reject it in its entirety. While Atiku called the report a political hatchet job, the AC said it failed to reflect Atiku’s testimony to the committee.

Similarly the Senate President, Chief Ken Nnamani, charged senators to be prepared to make objective comments on the report when it comes up for debate, saying that the time for propaganda was over.
The Senator Victor Ndoma-Egba-led committee, while recommending a reprimand for President Obasanjo for approving certain projects through the Federal Executive Council (FEC), outside the mandate of the PTDF, recommended that Atiku be sanctioned for abusing his office by aiding and abetting the diversion of public funds.

The report, apart from recommending two former PTDF bosses, Alhaji Hamisu Abubakar Mairago and Husseini Jallo as well as Otunba Oyewole Fasawe for prosecution, also asked that Fasawe be made to refund about N1.5 billion. It also called on the Independent Corrupt Practices Commission (ICPC) to carry out an independent investigation into the controversial Marine Float Accounts.

Recommended the committee: “That His Excellency, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar, vice president of the Federal Republic of Nigeria from 1999 to 2007, abused his office by aiding and abetting the diversion of public funds in the sums of $125 million and $20 million respectively approved for specific projects to deposits in banks, some of which were fraudulently converted as loans to NDTV, Mofas Shipping Company Limited and Transvari Services Limited and should be sanctioned for any offences disclosed.

“In respect of some projects commenced by PTDF in 2006, particularly the establishment of African Institute of Science and Technology in the FCT, Incorporation of Galaxy Backbone Plc and purchase of computers for civil servants under the Computer for all Nigerians Initiative (CANI), for which Mr. President Obasanjo gave approval and subsequently obtained the ratification of FEC, laudable as they may seem, were outside the mandate of the PTDF as provided for in Section 2 of the enabling Act.
“The president and FEC acted in disregard of the law establishing the PTDF. Though the ratification by FEC may mitigate this breach of the law, it, however, does not absolve the president and FEC.

“The committee therefore, recommends that the president be advised to adhere strictly to the provisions of the law establishing PTDF at all times in either approving projects, expenditure of funds or howsoever. The committee further recommends that the projects, which are outside the purview and contemplation of Section 2 of the PTDF Act, should not receive any further funding from the PTDF.
“In respect of the progress report on Obasanjo administration and photographs for State House Library, though the sum of N4.5 million approved for the project by the then Executive Secretary of PTDF, Alhaji Adamu Maina Waziri was within his approval limit, he should be made to refund the said sum to PTDF as the project was outside the contemplation of Section 2 of the PTDF Act,” the report reads in part.

The probe panel further recommended the amendment of the PTDF Act, which would aid its re-organization and restructuring in such a way that would enhance its capacity to deliver on its well defined objectives and to insulate it from politics.
However, four of the 13-member committee failed to append their signatures on the report that was laid before the Senate on Tuesday. They are Senators Nuhu Aliyu, Titus Olupitan, Rufus Spiff and Julius Ucha.

The chairman of the committee disclosed that only Olupitan had, from day one, signified his intention to write a minority report, adding that the other three senators did not append their signatures because they were out of Abuja when the final report was ready, saying, ” they will sign as soon as they come back.”
Reacting to the report, the vice president described it as a partisan political hatchet job that would not stand the test of public scrutiny, calling on the Senate to reject the report in the spirit of justice, fairness and equity.

In a statement by the Atiku Campaign Organization, Atiku said the conclusions of the committee were inconsistent with the abundant evidence put at its disposal by himself and several witnesses who appeared before it and wondered if the predominantly pro-third term members of the committee had yielded to pressures from a vindictive, do-or-die president.
The statement further reads: “The three critical issues are (i) Was the approval of the Federal Executive Council (FEC) needed for the placement of PTDF funds? (ii) Was any money lost in the investment of PTDF money in ETB and TIB? (iii) Was there any material link established between the vice president and the PTDF funds?

“The evidence before the committee confirmed our position. As at December 2006, over N19 billion of PTDF money was invested in banks and there was no single evidence that FEC approval was secured for it. This is a confirmation that the investment in TIB and ETB did not require a FEC approval. The transactions passed through the auditor-general’s office as required by law. The conclusion of the committee therefore, is inconsistent with the facts at its disposal.

“On the issue of whether PTDF money was diverted to the friends of the vice president, the evidence of ETB, Springbank (which acquired TIB) and the legal consultant to the PTDF committee confirm our position that no PTDF was diverted to public use. For clarity of purpose, the three agencies submitted that: It is not possible to link a particular deposit or placement to someone if there is anything like that, the CBN would have sanctioned us.

If the EFCC has any evidence to that effect let them submit it. The CBN has gone through this account, gone through our banking operations and found out that there was nothing like that. The criteria for loans and deposits acceptance are different, one goes by deposit criteria outlined by members of a bank’s management while the other by the risk criteria set by the board, submitted Mr. Emmanuel O. Ikechukwu, Managing Director of ETB (See Public Hearing Report of the PTDF Senate Committee, 18th December 2006 pages 62-64).

“The former Managing Director of TIB, Mr. Amos Segun Adepoju, in his submission, said, in banking, loans are not generally matched to deposits. As such, no loans were specifically granted from PTDF deposits. Deposits are placed in a pool called treasury, from where credits are extended to customers (Public Hearing Report of 18th December 2006, page 106). On pages 110, he was also quoted as saying: ‘In the course of processing and packaging these facilities, TIB (now SpringBank) accepts responsibilities for any lapses in the operational procedure.’ He however, was quick to add that there is no nexus between PTDF and the accounts to which facilities were advanced.

“The legal consultant to the PTDF committee stated as follows on the question of whether PTDF funds were the ones advanced as loan to MOFAS and Globacom: ‘There is testimony that the sum deposit made by PTDF in Trans International Bank were made for the purpose of granting loans to third parties. The question is whether it is PTDF monies that were paid out as loans.

The following statement of the law may be helpful in dealing with this issue. Generally, if a customer pays money into a bank, a debtor/creditor relationship is created. The money belongs to the bank and it can pay it out as its own money.’ (Memo of the Legal Consultant to the PTDF Committee, pages 6-7).
“The committee ignored the professional submissions of these people but opted for the evidence of one Mr. Dumebi Kachikwu who admitted that he was invited, hereby by the EFCC as a witness to EFCC presentation (Report of Public Hearing, of December 15, 2006, page 81), that the loans have a relationship with the PTDF deposit without a single documentary evidence.

“The Vice President Abubakar is surprised that the committee left the avalanche of evidence he provided to exonerate himself and to clearly prove that it was President Obasanjo who had been looting the PTDF funds. Although he is not unmindful of possible unrelenting political pressures on committee members from those hell-bent on destroying him politically, Atiku could not have imagined that the committee would come out with such a glaring partisan report.

“On the final issue of whether the investment in question was lost, the vice president re-states his position that no money was lost in the transaction in spite of the false claims by EFCC and the Senate Committee.

“The managing director of Spring Bank, the bank that took over the TIB, gave evidence that the fund is safe and that they have agreed to repay it. It is therefore, surprising that the committee will conclude, contrary to the evidence before it, that the money is lost.
“The conclusions of the committee regarding President Olusegun Obasanjo, is however the greatest evidence that the committee is biased in its report. In spite of the avalanche of evidence against his handling of the affairs of the PTDF, the committee merely recommended that the president should be advised to follow due process.

“It is intriguing that in spite of at least 10 cases of abuse of office by the president, the committee feels it was merely a due process matter. It is equally strange that while PTDF officials confirm the position of the vice president, that N20 billion PTDF money approved by the president in the heat of the obnoxious third-term scheme, could not be traced, the committee did deem it as appropriate to sanction the president or investigate the allegations that the money was used for the third term agenda.

“It is equally curious that the committee did not see anything wrong in the president approving the payment of a whopping N250 million to his personal lawyer and friend for the mere act of registering a company, which actual cost was not more than N23million. What further evidence did the committee need to realize that it was the president, his friends and cronies who had looted the PTDF?
“I call on the Senate to look closely at the committee report, identify its illogicalities, bias, and inconsistencies, and reject it in the interest of fairness, equity, and justice.

“We have been confident that in spite of the closeness of most members of the committee to President Obasanjo and the fact that 10 of the 13 members are in the PDP which has developed Atiku-phobia, we have always thought the assignment will be handled with the greatest sense of responsibility and patriotism. Perhaps, we had carried our optimism of the members’ sense of fairness too far,” the statement concluded.

The Action Congress also dismissed the ad-hoc committee’s report, asking the Senate to dump it into the garbage can.
A statement issued on Tuesday in Abuja by the party’s National Publicity Secretary, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, pooh-poohed the report as neither reflecting the import of the detailed testimony given by Atiku nor the very essence of the fund.

The party berated some members of the committee, who it said were either ill-informed or heavily compromised not to know that investing money in financial institutions did not amount to a diversion of fund or an abuse of office.
The statement called on the Senate “to look at the report of the committee objectively and reject it if found to be shoddy, as a way of redeeming the image of the upper legislative chamber.”

While defending the vice president’s handling of the PTDF, the AC explained that the fund operates like a trust fund “that has to invest whatever money is made available to it so that it can use the proceeds from such investments for its projects.”
The party justified Atiku’s decision to invest the money in Nigerian banks, saying the investments fetched the fund a double-digit interest and helped the country’s banks to grow.

PUNCH

February 28, 2007

 



PTDF: Panel blames Obasanjo, indicts Atiku

John Alechenu and Oluwole Josiah, Abuja

 

The Senate Ad hoc Committee on the Petroleum Technology Development Fund has faulted President Olusegun Obasanjo for acting outside the Act establishing the PTDF.

It, however, indicted Vice-President Atiku Abubakar for the mismanagement of the agency’s funds.

In a report formally presented by its Chairman, Senator Victor Ndoma-Egba, to the Senate on Tuesday, the committee found Obasanjo and the Federal Executive Council guilty of allegedly using PTDF money for projects not covered within the law establishing the fund.

It said, “In respect of some projects commenced by the PTDF in 2006, particularly the establishment of African Institute of Science and Technology in the FCT, incorporation of Galaxy Backbone Plc; and purchase of computers for civil servants under the Computer for All Nigerians Initiative, for which Obasanjo gave approval and subsequently obtained the ratification of the FEC, laudable as they may seem, they were outside the mandate of the PTDF as provided for in Section 2 of the enabling Act.

“The President and the FEC acted in disregard of the law establishing the PTDF. Though the ratification by the FEC may mitigate this breach of the law, it however, does not absolve the President and the council of blame.”

The committee, therefore, recommended that the President “be advised to adhere strictly to the provisions of the law establishing the PTDF at all times in either approving projects, expenditure of funds or howsoever.”

The committe indicted Abubakar for allegedly aiding and abetting the placement of $145m belonging to the PTDF in banks.

It added that the money which was meant for specific projects, was fraudulently given out as loans to companies.

The report reads in part, “That His Excellency, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar, vice-president of the Federal Republic of Nigeria from 1999 to 2007, abused his office by aiding and abetting the diversion of public funds in the sums of $125m and $20m respectively approved for specific projects to deposits in banks, some of which were fraudulently converted to loans to Netlink Digital Television, Mofas Shipping Company Limited and Transvari Services Limited.”

It also noted that contrary to the argument by Abubakar that PTDF funds were not lost in the various placements, N1.130bn loaned in two instalments to the NDTV; N420m to Mofas Shipping Company Limited; and N300m to Transvari Services Limited by TIB were yet to be recovered.

The committee, however, said that although the loans had been restructured with the acquisition of TIB by Spring Bank Plc., they (loans) might not be recovered outside the restructured framework without endangering the health of Spring Bank.

It, therefore, recommended that the VP be penalised for the offences.

It added that the Marine Float Limited Accounts, which had generated a lot of public interest, was outside its terms of reference as no PTDF funds were traced directly to the account. But the committee noted that the company was at best, a second line beneficiary of the PTDF funds.

The committee further recommended that a businessman, Chief Johnson Oyewole Fasawe, be prosecuted and made to refund N1.55bn being the loan advanced to NDTV and Mofas Shipping Company.

The committee also advised that another businessman, Ahmed Vanderpuye, “be prosecuted and made to refund N300m being a purported loan to Transvari Services from the TIB.”

Also recommended for prosecution are two former executive secretaries of the PTDF, Mr. Hamisu Abubakar, and Mr. Hussein Jallo.

The committee said, “Hamisu Abubakar, executive secretary of the PTDF from September 2000 to July 2005, abused his office by diverting public funds in the sums of $125m and $20m approved for specific projects to deposits in banks, some of which were fraudulently converted to loans to the NDTV, Mofas Shipping Company Limited and TSL and other criminal acts and should be prosecuted for any offences disclosed.

“Hussein Jallo, the executive secretary of the PTDF, from July 2005 to November 2005, having abused his office through criminal acts and for which N49m and six vehicles have so far been recovered from him by the EFCC, should be prosecuted for any offences disclosed.”

EFCC had recovered N200m from Hamisu Abubakar.

The committe also recommended that another former Executive Secretary of the PTDF, Alhaji Adamu Waziri, be made to refund the N4.5m which he okayed for the execution of the Progress Report on Obasanjo Administration and photographs for State House Library since the projects were outside the contemplation of the Section 2 of the PTDF Act.

The committee also suggested that the Marine Float Accounts be independently investigated by the Independent Corrupt Practices and other Related Offences Commission since the initial investigation by the EFCC had been controversial.

It advised that all accounts in the name of the PTDF within and outside Nigeria be established by the Senate Committees on Petroleum (Upstream) and Public Accounts.

The committee said taxes payable on the bill by Emmanuel Chambers, the company which allegedly registered Galaxy Backbone Plc, should be recovered by the PTDF and paid over to the relevant tax authorities.

While it suggested that the management of the PTDF be reorganised to enhance its capacity to deliver on its objectives, it also voted for the amendment to the PTDF Act.

The committee observed that because the PTDF was a special fund for which appropriation was not required by the National Assembly, it was treated more or less by the Presidency like a security vote with scant regard to the provisions of the Act establishing it.

It also lamented the fact that training for oil and gas sector was relegated to the background as against unrelated projects for which there might have been appropriation elsewhere.

“The fortunes of the fund did not appear to have improved from when its supervision moved from the VP to the President,” it added.

The committee also held that some accounts kept in the name of the PTDF by the Accountant-General of the Federation were not known to the PTDF.

It added that the decision to restrict the funding of the PTDF to a limit of 25 per cent of signature bonuses or $100m per annum was done without legal backing.

It further observed that the supervision of the PTDF by the executive had been grossly inadequate and compounded by the lack of proper oversight by the National Assembly.

The committee also said that the increase in approval limits of the executive secretary of the PTDF from N.7m to N10m was not in accordance with extant financial regulations. It added that bogus and unrealisable projects were recommended and funds approved for them.

It said, “Many of the projects for which monies were approved have not been implemented.”

The President of the Senate, Chief Ken Nnamani, said, “The time for propaganda is over, now we have to deal with facts not emotions.”

He said he would sign every page of the report to ensure that the document was not “doctored”

Soon after presenting the report, Ndoma-Egba, a Senior Advocate of Nigeria, told newsmen that Abubakar was not compelled to appear before his committee.

The debate on the report will commence on Wednesday(today).

The Senate had on September 28, 2006 set up the committee to look into the management of the PTDF funds.

Prior to this, the EFCC had indicted Abubakar and Fasawe over the running of the PTDF.

Although Abubakar denied any wrong doing, the Presidency set up a special panel headed by the Minister of Justice and Attorney-General of the Fedration, Chief Bayo Ojo, to further probe the PTDF.

Abubakar and Fasawe were again indicted by the panel. A White Paper on the panel’s findings was consequently gazetted.

While accusations and counter-accusations by the Presidency and Abubakar’s camp lasted, the vice-president and Fasawe filed separate suits challenging their links to the mismanagement of the PTDF.

The case by Fasawe has since been dispensed with in his favour by a Lagos High Court.

The one by Abubakar is still pending before a Federal High Court in Abuja.

 

LEADERSHIP

 

 Senate Panel Indicts Obasanjo, Atiku, Others

Ben Adoga

 

 

The Senate yesterday received the report of its ad-hoc committee that investigated the Petroleum Technology Development Fund (PTDF). The report indicted both President Olusegun Obasanjo and Vice President Atiku Abubakar as well as four others for their roles in the mismanagement of the funds of the PTDF. The four other indicted persons are Otunba Johnson Oyewole Fashawe, a close ally of the vice president; a business tycoon, Ahmed Vanderpuye; Hamisu Abubakar, the executive secretary of PTDF from September 2000 to July 2005; and Hussein Jallo, the executive secretary of PTDF from July 2005 to November 2005.

The report said that Vice President Atiku abused his office by aiding and abetting the diversion of public funds in the sums of $125 million and $20 million approved for specific projects to banks as deposits.

The report further noted that some of this money “were fraudulently converted as loans to NDTV, Mofas Shipping Company Limited and Transvari Services Limited,” noting that Atiku should be sanctioned for any offences disclosed.

On President Obasanjo, the report said that he acted outside the provisions of the PTDF enabling act by the establishment of African Institute of Science and Technology; incorporation of Galaxy Backbone Plc and purchase of compuers for civil servants under the computer for All Nigerians Initiative (CANI).

The report said that President Obasanjo and the Federal Executive Council (FEC) acted in disregard of the law establishing the PTDF. “Though the ratification by the FEC may mitigate this breach of the law, it however does not absolve the president and the FEC,” it said.

The other recommendations of the committee are as follows:

•That Otunba Johnson Oyewole Fashawe should be made to refund the sum of N400 million purported loan to ND’IV from TIB, N420 million purported loan to Mofas Shipping Company Limited and N730 million purported loan to NDTV and be prosecuted for any offences disc1osed. EFCC had recovered N100 million from him.

•That Ahmed Vanderpuye should be made to refund the sum of N300 million purported loan to Transvari Services Limited from TIB and be prosecuted for any offences disclosed.

•That Hamisu Abubakar, executive secretary of PTDF from September 2000 to July 2005, abused his office by diverting public funds in the sums of $125 million and $20 million approved for specific projects to deposits in banks, some of which were fraudulently converted as loans to NDTV, Mofas Shipping Company. Limited and Transvari Services Limited and other criminal acts and should be prosecuted for any offences disclosed. EFCC had recovered N200 million from him.

•That Hussein Jallo, the executive secretary of PTDF from July 2005 to November 2005, having abused his office through criminal acts and for which N49 million and six vehic1es have so far been recovered from him by EFCC should be prosecuted for any offences disclosed.

•That His Excellency Alhaji Atiku Abubakar, Vice President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria from 1999 to 2007, abused his office by aiding’ and abetting the diversion of’ public funds in the sums of $125 million and $20 million respectively approved for specific projects to deposits in banks, some of which were fraudulently converted as loans to NDTV, Mofas Shipping Company Limited and Transvari Services Limited and should be sanctioned for any offences disclosed.

•In respect of some projects commenced by PTDF in 2006, particularly the

a) Establishment of African Institute of Science and Technology in the Federal Capital Territory (FCT).

b) Incorporation of Galaxy Backbone Plc and

c) Purchase of computers for civil servants under the computer for All Nigerians Initiative (CANI)

for which the President, Chief Olusegun Obasanjo, gave approval and subsequently obtained the ratification of the Federal Executive Council, laudable as they may seem, were outside the mandate of the PTDF as provided for in Section 2 of the enabling act.

The President, Chief Olusegun Obasanjo, and the Federal Executive Council acted in disregard of the law establishing the PTDF. Though the ratification by the Federal Executive Council may mitigate this breach of the law, it however does not absolve the President and the Federal Executive Counci1.

The committee therefore recommends that the President be advised to adhere strictly to the provisions of the law establishing the PTDF at all times in either approving projects, expenditure of funds or howsoever.

The committee further recommends that the projects which are outside the purview and contemplation of section 2 of the PTDF Act should not receive any further funding from the PTDF.

The committee also recommends that the said projects be verified and evaluated.

The committee further recommends:

•That in respect of the progress report on Obasanjo administration and photographs for State House Library, though the sum of N4.5 million approved for the project by the then executive secretary of PTDF, Alhaji Adamu Maina Waziri, was within his approval limit, he should be made to refund the said sum of N4.5 million to PTDF nevertheless as the project was outside the contemplation of section 2 of the PTDF Act.

•That all the projects approved for the PTDF from 2003 till date should be verified and evaluated by the relevant committees of the Senate, that is to say:

a) Committee on Petroleum (Upstream) and

b) Committee on Public Accounts, or alternatively by

c) Ad-hoc committee for this purpose

•That the relevant committees of the Senate should be alive to their oversight responsibilities over the PTDF.

•That Marine Float accounts should be independently investigated by the relevant organs of government, especially the Independent Corrupt Practices Commission (lCPC) since the initial investigation by the EFCC had generated controversy.

•The taxes payable on the bill by Emmanuel Chambers should be recovered by the PTDF and paid over to the relevant tax authorities. The said chambers should also itemise its bill.

•That all the accounts in the name of the PTDF within and outside Nigeria should be established by the Senate committees on Petroleum (Upstream) and Public Accounts or, in the alternative, an adhoc committee established for that purpose.

•That the Petroleum Technology Development Fund Act should be amended to:

a) provide for a Governing Body/Board of Trustees

b) provide for the constitution of the Board which should reflect federal character

c) In view of the increase in bonuses, the funding of the PTDF should be streamlined by formalising the limits of bonuses payable to the fund to either 25% of bonuses or $100 million per annum, whichever is less.

d) Statutory provision for audited accounts of the fund.

•The management of Fund should be re-organised/restructured to enhance its capacity to deliver on its well defined objectives and to insulate it from politics.

•The agencies like the Central Bank of Nigeria, Ministry of Finance, Office of the Accountant-General of the Federation, Department of Petroleum Resources and the Office of the Auditor-General of

the federation that have direct Gearing with the Fund should play their roles as expected to aid the Fund in meeting the objectives for which it was established.

•’The PTDF Act when amended should include the solid minerals sector and should be renamed Petroleum Technology and Minerals Development Fund.

Vice President Atiku has described the Senate committee report on PTDF which was submitted yesterday as a partisan political hatchet job that will not stand the test of public scrutiny. He called on the Senate to reject the report in the spirit of justice, fairness and equity.

A statement released by the Atiku campaign organiastion said Vice President Abubakar observed that the conclusions of the committee are inconsistent with the abundant evidence put at its disposal by himself and several witnesses who appeared before it and wondered “if the predominantly pro-third term members of the committee had yielded to pressures froma vindictive, do-or-die president.”

“The three critical issues are, was the approval of the FEC needed for the placement of PTDF funds; was there any money lost in the investment of PTDF money in ETB and TIB?; was there any material link established between the vice president and the PTDF funds?

“The evidence before the committee confirmed our position. As at December 2006, over N19 billion of PTDF money was invested in banks and there was an evidence that FEC approval was secured for it. This is a confirmation that the investment in TIB and ETB didn’t require a FEC approval, the transactions passed through the auditor-general’s office as required by law. The conclusion of the committee therefore is inconsistent with the fact at its disposal.

“On the issue of whether PTDF money was diverted to the friends of the vice president, the evidence of ETB, Spring Bank (which acquired TIB) and the legal consultant to the PTDF committee confirmed our position that no PTDF fund was diverted to public use; the statement read.

The statement further stated that the vice president is surprised that the committee left the avalanche of evidence he provided to exonerate himself and to clearly prove that it was President Obasanjo who had been looting the PTDF funds. It explained that although Atiku is not unmindful of the political pressures on committee members from those bent on destroying him politically, the work of the committee was “a glaring partisan report.”

“The conclusions of the committee regarding President Olusegun Obasanjo, is however the greatest evidence that the committee is biased in its report. In spite of the avalanche of evidence against his handling of the affairs of the PTDF, the committee merely recommended that the president should be advised to follow due process.

“It is intriguing that in spite of at least 10 cases of abuse of office by the president, the committee feels it was merely a due process matter. It is equally strane that while PTDF officials confirm the position of the vice president, that N20 billion PTDF money approve dby the president in the heat of the obnoxious third-term scheme, could not be traced, the committee did deem it as appropriate to sanction the president or investigate the allegations that the money was used for the third-term agenda.”

According to Atiku’s campaign organisation, it was curious that the committee did not see anything wrong in the president’s approving the payment of a whopping N250 million to his personal lawyer and friend for the mere act of registering a company, which actual cost was not more than N23 million.

“I call on the SEante to look closely a the committee report, identify its illogicalities, bias and inconsistencies, and reject it in the interest of fairness, equity and justice.

“We have been confident that in spite of the closeness of most members of the committee to Presdient Obasanjo and the fact that 10 of the 13 members are in the PDP which has developed Atiku phobia, we have always thought the assignment will be handled with the greatest sense of responsibility and patriotism. Perhaps we had carried our optimism of the members’ sense of fairness too far,” the statement concluded.

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