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Kachikwu’s Letter: Suspend Baru, Send Him to EFCC—SERAP Tells Buhari

By Dipo Olowookere

President Muhammadu Buhari has been asked to suspend Mr Maikanti Baru from his position as Group Managing Director (GMD) of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC), following a leaked letter to the President by the Minister of State for Petroleum Resources, Mr Ibe Kachikwu, alleging the NNPC boss of insubordination.

A group known as Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP), in an open letter to Mr Buhari, requested him to use his “good offices and leadership position to urgently refer the allegations of corruption and abuse of office against Mr Baru to the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) and the Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission (ICPC) for investigation, and if there is relevant and sufficient admissible evidence, for him to face prosecution.”

In the letter, the organization urged the President to “suspend Mr Baru pending the referral to the EFCC and ICPC, and the outcome of any investigation by the anti-corruption agencies in order not to create the impression that your government is treating Mr Baru as a sacred cow.

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“We urge you not to allow the allegations against Mr Baru go the way of past inconclusive investigations of allegations of massive corruption within the NNPC.”

In the letter dated October 5, 2017 and signed by SERAP executive director, Mr Adetokunbo Mumuni, the organization said that, “The allegations by Dr Kachikwu constitute grave breaches of the Corrupt Practices and Other Related Act of 2000; and the UN Convention against Corruption (UNAC) which Nigeria recently ratified.

“In particular, the UN Convention against Corruption imposes clear obligations on Nigeria to investigate allegations of corruption such as the present one; prosecute suspected perpetrators and ensure return and repatriation of proceeds of corruption.”

The letter reads in part: “SERAP is concerned that years of systemic corruption within the NNPC and looting of Nigeria’s natural resources have had uneven consequences against the vulnerable groups of the society, including the poor, women and children, perpetrating and institutionalizing discrimination, and jeopardizing the needs and well-being of future generations. If left unaddressed, the allegations by Dr Kachikwu have the potential of undermining your government’s expressed commitment to returning Nigeria to the path of transparency and accountability.

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“SERAP believes that Mr Baru’s case presents your Administration with yet another rare opportunity to reassure a lot of Nigerians who may be worried about the direction of travel of your anti-corruption agenda. Rather than keeping silent on the matter, we advise you to use this case to show to Nigerians that no form of corruption will be tolerated in the NNPC under your watch.

“SERAP also believes the recommended approach would help to address the growing public suspicion and pessimism about your government’s ability to fight high-level official corruption to a standstill, and to avoid any collateral consequences. It is absolutely important that the public should have complete confidence and trust in your Administration’s oft-repeated commitment to fight corruption and the impunity of perpetrators.

“SERAP notes the recent allegations of corruption against Mr Baru by Dr Emmanuel Ibe Kachikwu, Minister of State of Petroleum and Chairman NNPC Board. In the letter to you Dr Kachikwu alleged among others appointments and postings in NNPC without due process; award of contracts above $20m without following the legal and procedural requirements for such contracts including the Crude Term contracts- value at over $10bn; the DSDP contracts- value over $5bn; the AKK pipeline contract- value approximately $3bn; various financing allocation funding contracts with the NOCs – value over $3bn; and various NPDC production service contracts – value at over $3bn–$4bn.”

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To assist the government to achieve this public confidence and trust, effectively spread the gospel of anticorruption, and be on the right side of history, SERAP asked Buhari to “urgently refer the allegations against Mr Baru to both the EFCC and ICPC for further investigations, and if there is relevant and sufficient admissible evidence, for him to face prosecution; and pending the referral to the EFCC and ICPC, to suspend Mr Baru from his position as Group Managing Director NNPC, pending the outcome of any investigation by the EFCC and ICPC.

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Dipo Olowookere is a journalist based in Nigeria that has passion for reporting business news stories. At his leisure time, he watches football and supports 3SC of Ibadan.

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