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We have no petition to probe Obasanjo - Aondoakaa

Posted by From JAMES OJO, Abuja. on 2008/01/08 | Views: 397 |

We have no petition to probe Obasanjo - Aondoakaa

The Federal Government on Monday denied receiving any petition asking for the probe of the eight-year rule of Chief Olusegun Obasanjo. It promised that the administration of President Umaru Yar’Adua would not shield anybody from being investigated.

The Federal Government on Monday denied receiving any petition asking for the probe of the eight-year rule of Chief Olusegun Obasanjo. It promised that the administration of President Umaru Yar’Adua would not shield anybody from being investigated.

Minister of Justice and Attorney General of the Federation, Michael Aondoakaa, who disclosed this before the House of Representatives Committee on Justice restated that the Yar’Adua government had nothing to hide.

“If there is any petition against anybody that you believe has been written and government is not taking action, you can enquire from us,” he said, while responding to newspaper report accusing the Federal Government of shielding the former president from probe.

According to him, at no time did the president stop any investigation against anybody in Nigeria, neither did he interfere with any investigation for criminal offences against anybody.
The minister said the report credited to President Yar’Adua was shocking as there was no iota of truth in it, adding that such issue never came up for debate in all the executive council meetings held so far.
“The issue has not arisen. At no time did the issue arise for any discussion by the president and therefore it couldn’t have formed the basis of any news attributed to the president or to the government of President Yar’Adua, not even in council.

“I am the chief law officer. We have never discussed the issue as to which will arise to a statement credited to the president that the administration of president “Obasanjo will not be probed. So, we want you to discountenance this kind of reporting.

“ The reporting is not based on any fact and our office is there to provide fact to you anytime you need the fact. We must not do a report that will endanger national security because this is a deliberate falsehood.

“At no time did the president make a statement relating to any issue involving investigation of crime. And the nature of the president is to allow due process to prevail and he has said it clearly that he does not interfere where there is due process and where due process is prevailing,” he said.

In law, Aondoakaa noted that there was nothing like speculations. “We don’t work on speculations. You don’t talk of fiction, but reality. I have challenged you, if you have a petition against any Nigerian that government is not taking any action, that is the time you will come to the appropriate authorities and say I am an investigative journalist, this is a petition I have which is addressed to you and you have not taken any action. But when you make a statement that is not based on fact and ascribe to somebody, it is not fair.”

On the reason why he appeared before the Committee, the Attorney General of the Federation blamed the Ministry of Justice for not including in the 2008 budget judgment debts totaling N16.65billion and $125.8million in local and foreign rulings against the Federal Government.

He informed the Henry Dickson-led committee that the debts had been piling up since 1998, but that though the ministry had started offsetting some of the debts, he was yet to sight any of the judgments.
The minister queried the payment of N250 billion to local contractors that took government to court by the Central Bank of Nigeria [CBN] without his authorization, adding that the money was pulled out of the votes of the Ministry of Sports by the CBN.

Part of the outstanding debts, he noted were N42 billion to be paid to Zaki Biam community following the military expedition that led to the sacking of the community on October 22, 2001, while government was ready to seek out of court settlement on the $100 million slammed on Federal Government over complicity in the death of winner of the June 12, 1993 presidential election, the late MKO Abiola.
Another $12 million debt was still pending from the case instituted by a multi-national oil company, Mash Oil after the payment of $6 million.

Responding, Minister of State for Finance, Mr. Remi Babalola blamed the Attorney General’s office for lumping debts from court rulings with legal fees charged by lawyers engaged to defend government positions.

Babalola noted that records in the Ministry of Finance showed that N2 billion was outstanding on legal fees, while only N4 billion was meant for judgment debts.

“We don’t have in our records, the figures brandied by the Ministry of Justice. What we have is N2 billion for legal fees and N4 billion for judgments against the government,” he said.
Aondoakaa had earlier told the committee that about 300 children were found in prisons all over the country, expressing worry about how female prisoners get impregnated.

However, he said that President Yar’Adua had directed that relevant ministries should meet and address the problems immediately.

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