Okonjo-Iweala Reacts To Rumours Of Her Involvement In N8Trn Fraud
As a September 25, 2013 memo from Central Bank's Governor Lamido Sanusi suggests, President Goodluck Jonathan, together with Petroleum and Finance Ministers, is involved in illegal diversion, or theft, of over N8 trillion crude oil sales proceeds. Reacting to the news, Minister of Finance, Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala did not provide any details on whereabouts of the money; instead, she criticized those who have mounted a "campaign of falsehoods and distortions" against her.
Back in September, Sanusi noted that for all crude oil sales within the period, the Nigeria National Petroleum Corporation paid only 24 percent proceeds into the federation account, and diverted or stole the remaining 76 percent-totalling N8 trillion between January 2012 and July 2013.
Consequently, Sanusi accused the NNPC of breaching two key federal laws and urged the President to order a sweeping investigation and prosecution of those found culpable.
In a press statement issued on Tuesday evening, in an apparent response to the revelation of how the NNPC, under the watch of the Petroleum Minister, Diezani Alison-Madueke, illegally cornered 76 percent of all crude oil sales, Mrs. Okonjo-Iweala said she "has been the subject of high profile media attacks from several quarters" by elements whose aim is to unduly politicise her management of the country's economy.
"The pronouncements of these political vested interests are based on false information and outright lies disguised as objective comments. Fortunately Nigerians are wise to their antics and this campaign to damage the name of the Coordinating Minister, like previous ones, will fail," the statement by Okonjo-Iweala's media adviser, Paul Nwabuikwu, read.
While avoiding the issues raised in the report, the Minister promised to clarify specific issues which she deemed appropriate.
"We urge Nigerians to continue to be vigilant to the increasingly desperate actions of these elements. Where appropriate, we will continue to clarify the issues and point out the true situation in specific areas of the country's economic management."
Two months on, the President is yet to react to the memo. The alleged 8 trillion fraud, if facts are proven, might become one of the biggest crook businesses ever conducted in Nigeria's history.