Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) led by the Africa Network for Environment and Economic Justice (ANEEJ) carried out a massive mobilisation of the people in Lagos today demanding accountability and transparency in the oil and gas sector of the economy.
The protesters are aggrieved over what they consider lack of accountability and looting in the oil industry as well as snail pace adopted by the authority in prosecuting alleged oil thieves.
Defying early morning rain in Lagos, the rally converged at the Allen round about from where it stage the protest work along Awolowo way Ikeja.
Speaker after speaker, condemned the perceived stealing in the industry and poor infrastructure development and abject poverty in the land.
Innocent Edemhanrhia of ANEEJ while addressing the crowd commended effort of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), the Special Fraud Unit of the Police and the Judiciary for working hard toward bringing oil subsidy corruption suspects to justice.
Edemhanrhia said however, ‘As leaders of Civil Society Organisations in Nigeria, we are concerned about the pace of arraignment and prosecution of suspects. We are worried that over two years down the road, the cases are still dragging in various courts with no assurance that such cases will be concluded’.
He said the organisers of the protest are aware of recovery of N5billion oil subsidy from marketers in 2012, by the EFCC and prosecution of over 40 suspects, but sadly till date no single individual or company has been convicted by the courts or whose case has been successfully concluded.
“Prosecutions have been hampered by a number of issues including the delay tactics being employed by defense lawyers, the presentation of inadequate evidence, procedural errors, failure of some suspects to appear in court, frequent strike action by judicial workers, some unseen hands at work, among others’ he alleged.
He therefore expressed concern that the delay in the prosecutions may pave way for suspects who have plenty of money and are also powerfully connected to escape justice even when it is often said that justice delayed is justice denied.
Also speaking, Barrister Ayo Adebusoye. Of the Nigerian Network of Non Governmental Organisations (NNNGO) said that most Nigerians are now disenchanted having waited for too long to see justice done in the case of the suspected oil fraudsters.
Adebusoye said Nigerians are still eagerly awaiting the out come of the prosecution which they believed will serve as a deterrent to corrupt citizens from bleeding the nations treasury using their vantage positions in public office.
The CSO’s among other demands at the rally urged the government to speed up the prosecution of fuel subsidy corruption cases pending in the courts, and that presidential candidates standing for election on February 14, should tell Nigerians their plan to deal with subsidy corruption.
They also sought from the candidates their plan to end endemic corruption in public and private sectors, and that government should urgently resolve all disputes between her and the judicial workers for subsidy cases to proceed unhindered, and that the Bar Association and CSO’s and individual lawyers should provide Pro Bono Services to EFCC to fortify their prosecution team