PTDF: Intent To Destroy Material Fact Is Criminal


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PTDF: Intent To Destroy Material Fact Is Criminal




Nuhu Shuaib



November 3, 2006


The independent probe committee instituted by the Senate to investigate the activities of the Petroleum Trust Development Fund [PTDF] is expected to unravel the circumstances surrounding the accusation and counter accusation of corruption involving President Olusegun Obasanjo and Vice President Atiku Abubakar. And the whole thing started at the instance of the President. But from the way events have turned out in the last few weeks that the matter erupted, it can be concluded that the matter has gone out of hand of Mr. President. This is certainly not what he bargained for. It is a clear case of the hunter becoming the hunted.

In any investigation, distortion of evidence is criminal and wicked as it would have defeated the essence of the whole exercise. Therefore, the minimum expectation is the preservation of the material facts to lend credence to whatever findings are finally arrived at.
In this case, it is the Vice President that is on the spot. He is the one that is accused of corruptly enriching himself, though he can not be assumed guilty until proven beyond reasonable doubt. Going by Atikuís defence to the Senate, it is clear that Obasanjo has a Herculean task ahead to establish his case against Atiku. Aside from this, Obasanjo too has a case to answer on the same corruption charge he is levelling against Atiku. As mentioned Atiku Abubakar is the one on the spot because he is the culprit, and at the same time the President has all it takes to manipulate the exercise. He has the Stateís institutions and resources to use to his advantage.
The President seems not to be leaving anything to chance as he tries relentlessly to tidy up but to Atikuís detriment. This is the position of Atiku Abubakar as presented by his Media Campaign Organisation. At the first instance, the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission [EFCC] stormed Bank PHB branch in Lagos and carted away vital documents relating to the banking transactions of the Vice President. This is obviously what the late Chuba Okadigbo would call executive rascality. EFCC concluded its investigation into the alleged fraud consequent upon which the President set up a panel to consider the report. What evidence was EFCC looking for in Bank PHB that it had not gotten during its own investigation?
Another issue that came up when the President closed the PTDF account. Atiku Media Campaign Organisation alerted the nation that the action of the President is another effort to obstruct justice. Since the matter was before the National Assembly, common sense demands that he would have allowed the National Assembly to conclude its investigation before the hasty closure of PTDF account.
As if the President and his team have not gotten what they wanted, the State Security Service and EFCC went after Mallam Garba Shehu and Otunba Fasawe respectively carting away vital documents. Lending credence to Atikuís claim of the Presidentís intention to destroy evidence is the fact that these Stateís institutions, which are at the beck and call of the President, are always after documents anytime they come calling.
The campaign office also drew the attention of Nigerians to the delay tactics being employed by the management of the PTDF in submitting its memoranda to the Senate Committee. The PTDF management was obviously buying time to alter, distort and disorganise all material facts before forwarding whatever is left to the Senate Committee. When Atikuís camp cried out, the Executive Secretary of the Fund stated that he will cooperate fully with the Committee. Though, no one expected anything short of that statement from him.
Again the Atiku Campaign Organisation alleged that there are attempts to eliminate large numbers of documents from the records of the PTDF and that other batch of documents are being taken to various federal ministries for accelerated due process stamp to be affixed on them. This, according to the group is to legitimise decisions and expenditures that run foul of financial guidelines, statutes and the constitution of Nigeria.
The following day that the statement was made available to the press, EFCC raided Bank PHB again carting away records of Vice President Atiku Abubakar. As in its other raids, original copies of all documents of transactions of the Vice President, his personal aide and that of Marine Float account were removed. EFCC is an interested party in this matter and could therefore not be trusted with any vital document in its possession.
What the Nigerian public expect from the Senate Committee is summed up in the press release of the media office of Atiku Abubakar. In their words, the committee should Ďtake appropriate measures to secure all authentic documents of the PTDF from its inception to date from being tampered withí. Nigerians are waiting to see how events will turn out at the upper legislative house.


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