22 July 2015,Washington – President Muhammadu Buhari has accused some former ministers and government officials of illegal sale and diversion of crude oil monies belonging to the federal government.
Buhari said such individuals would not go unpunished, saying his administration was examining evidence that would lead to their arrest and prosecution.
He said this at the Nigerian embassy in Washington on Wednesday while answering questions during an interactive session with Nigerians in the diaspora.
“We are now looking for evidences of shipping some of our crude, their destinations and where and which accounts they were paid and in which country,” he said.
“When we get as much as we can get as soon as possible, we will approach those countries to freeze those accounts and go to court, prosecute those people and let the accounts be taken to Nigeria.
“The amount of money is mind-boggling but we have started getting documents of some senior people in government, former ministers, some of them had as much as five accounts and were moving about one million barrel per day on their own.
“We have started getting those documents. Whichever documents we are able to get and subsequently trace the sale of the crude or transfer of money from ministries, departments, Central Bank.
“We will ask for the cooperation of those countries to return those monies to federation accounts and we will use those documents to arrest those people and prosecute them. This, I promise Nigerians.”
The president frowned at the manner the Nigeria National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) was being managed, saying his administration would check the excesses of the corporation.
He said that his administration was carefully studying the issue of oil subsidy in order not to take decisions that would further impoverish Nigerians through the removal of oil subsidy.
“When people ask you to remove subsidy ask them to define it. Who is subsidizing who? Let me make it clear. The people are gleefully saying `remove subsidy,” he said.
“They want petrol to cost N500 per litre. If you are working and subsidy is removed, you can’t control transport, you can’t control market women, the cost of food, the cost of transport.
“If you are earning N20,000 per day and you are living in Lagos or Ibadan, the cost of transport to work and back, the cost of food. You cannot control the market women they have to pay what transporters charge them.
“If there is need for removing subsidy, I will study it. With my experience, I will see what I can do. But I’m thinking more than half the population of Nigeria virtually cannot afford to live.
“Where will they get the money to go work? How can they feed their families? How can they pay rent? “If Nigeria were not an oil producing country – all well and good. Our refineries are not working. We have a lot of work to do.”
– The Cable