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Gani drags Obasanjo to Code of Conduct Bureau…Over Transcorp shares

Posted by By YINKA FABOWALE on 2006/10/05 | Views: 129 |

Gani drags Obasanjo to Code of Conduct Bureau…Over Transcorp shares


Lagos lawyer and human rights activist, Chief Gani Fawehinmi (SAN), has dragged President Olusegun Obasanjo to the Code of Conduct Bureau over the president’s business interests and involvement in the Trans National Corporation (Transcorp) Plc.

Lagos lawyer and human rights activist, Chief Gani Fawehinmi (SAN), has dragged President Olusegun Obasanjo to the Code of Conduct Bureau over the president’s business interests and involvement in the Trans National Corporation (Transcorp) Plc.

In a petition he filed on Tuesday, the lawyer wants Obasanjo charged with abuse of office and his investments in the mega company seized by the Federal Government for allegedly contravening provisions of the Constitution and code of conduct of public officers.

Fawehinmi averred that the President held substantial shares in Transcorp by proxy (i.e. through Obasanjo Holdings Limited, a private firm owned by him). He described the use of the company to acquire the shares as "wrong, illegal and unconstitutional," by citing the Fifth Schedule, Part I, paragraph 13 of the 1999 Constitution, which provided that: "A public officer who does any act prohibited by this code through a nominee, trustee or other agent shall be deemed ipso facto to have committed a breach of this code."

Fawehinmi argued that the admission by Messrs Daniel Atsu and Lucky Egede, who Obasanjo entrusted with the running of his firm before the inception of his administration in 1999, merely compounded the President’s guilt, as it served as a cover, "when, in actual fact, all the activities of Transcorp involve the direct participation of President Olusegun Obasanjo at least publicly."

The lawyer noted further: "At the time Transcorp was formed and four (4) oil blocks allocated to it with attendant licences, the President, General Olusegun Obasanjo was the Minister of Petroleum Resources, a position he held from May 29, 1999 till date."

Consequently, he declared as an abuse of office, the allocation of oil fields or blocks by the President to Transcorp, a company in which he had substantial shares, contrary to the provision of Section 15 (5) of the Constitution which says, "the state shall abolish all corrupt practices and abuse of power."
He said the same was true of the privatisation and sale of the Nigerian Telecommunications Limited (NITEL) and Federal Government’s divestment of its shares in NICON Hilton Hotel in favour of Transcorp, partly owned by Obasanjo.

The lawyer said Transcorp undoubtedly, constituted the wealthiest and most powerful commercial private institution in the country today, factors brought into being by the involvement of the President.
"What the President has done by setting up Transcorp and making it the pillar of the private sector violates Section 16 (2) 1 of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999, which states as follows: ‘The state shall direct its policy towards ensuring that the economic system is not operated in such a manner as to permit concentration of wealth or the means of production and exchange in the hands of a few individuals or a group,"’ he said.

In similar vein, Fawehinmi argued that Obasanjo violated Section 16 (4) (a) of the Constitution with the formation of the company as it had taken over the constitutional responsibility of the Federal Government of exclusively running major sectors of the economy.

Reminding the bureau of its obligation not to treat any erring public officer as a sacred cow, Fawehinmi said President Obasanjo, through these various acts, had also breached his oath of office and allegiance to the supreme law of the land to the effect that he would be faithful to preserve, protect and defend the Constitution as well as abide by the code of conduct for public officers.

He said a swift and appropriate response to the petition was crucial in line with the objectives of the bureau to maintain a high standard of morality in the conduct of government business and to ensure that the actions and behaviour of public officers conform to the highest standards of public morality and accountability.

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Fay(Katy, Texas, US)says...

Actually translates to bravehearted.