The Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN) Sunday called on the National Chairman of the ruling Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Alhaji Bamanga Tukur, to step down immediately following his son’s indictment and prosecution by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) for his alleged involvement in the fuel subsidy fraud.
ACN, in a statement by its National Publicity Secretary, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, said Tukur’s resignation was necessary for him to free himself from the moral burden arising from the trial of his son, Mahmud, for his involvement in the fuel subsidy fraud along with others.
Tukur, along with other individuals and oil marketing companies, was arraigned on Friday in Lagos by the EFCC for abusing the fuel subsidy scheme. The ACN said the PDP chairman’s resignation would also ensure a fair trial of suspects in the fraud.
The party, which described the fuel subsidy fraud as about the biggest corruption case in Nigeria’s history, said it was necessary for Tukur to step aside so that the trial could go unimpeded to save the country’s anti-corruption battle.
The party said although it subscribes to the legal dictum that an accused person is innocent until proven guilty, its intervention was not about the guilt or otherwise of the accused but the fact that the PDP chairman would find it difficult to extricate his image from public guilt as long as his son is on trial .
“It is important to say here that the fuel subsidy fraud trial will be held in two courts: the court of law and the court of public opinion. While Alhaji Bamanga Tukur is not facing any charge in the court of law over the fraud, he is definitely a star suspect in the court of public opinion.
“That is why many Nigerians are already insinuating that nothing will come out of the trial, especially as far as his son is concerned. This is an allusion to the influence bestowed upon him by his high office,” ACN added.
While the party expressed confidence in the ability of the judiciary to ensure justice, it said anything that could cause doubt in the delivery of justice in the fuel subsidy fraud trial should be removed.
It viewed Tukur’s continued stay in office as the PDP chairman as capable of thwarting the cause of justice.
“We also believe that since Alhaji Tukur, as the PDP chairman, has a say in who becomes the chair of the boards of the key agencies in the oil sector that are linked to fuel subsidy (e.g. NNPC, PPPRA and PEF), his continued stay in office is inimical to efforts to clean up the tainted sector,’” ACN said.
The party described as sheer sophistry the attempt by an aide of the PDP chairman to distance him and the party from the fraud.
“Is it a coincidence that the ‘stars’ in the court trial of the subsidy fraud include the sons of the past and present chairmen of the PDP? Will it be wrong to say the sons of Dr. Ahmadu Ali and Alhaji Bamanga Tukur ‘benefitted’ from the subsidy largesse because of their father’s positions in the ruling party?
“Is it a coincidence that many of those named as suspects are big donors to the ruling party? The truth is that the PDP and its bigwigs are right at the centre of this scam, and it is too late for the party and the bigwigs to now seek to distance themselves from it,” it said.
According to the party, the fuel subsidy fraud has further justified its opposition to fuel subsidy removal, which it described as an attempt by the government to punish ordinary Nigerians by making them pay for the inefficiency and corruption in the downstream sector of the oil industry.
“The government did not heed this warning, and went ahead, in the cruellest manner, to raise fuel prices. Now, thanks to the determination of Nigerians to shake off the yoke imposed on them by the same government they voted into power, and thanks to the doggedness of the House of Representatives, it has now been revealed that Nigeria’s largely poor citizens are being made to subsidise a few fat cats, most of them linked to the PDP! “While some of these fat cats allegedly collected billions of naira for the fuel they did not import, the ordinary Nigerian is today paying N97 per litre because of the corruption in which he/she is not involved,” ACN added.