Former Deputy National Publicity Secretary of Nigeria’s ruling All Progressives Congress (APC), Comrade Timi Frank, has given the Vice President, Yemi Osinbajo, seven days to resign over what he described as “his flagrant violation of the Constitution and the Public Procurement Act in the approval of N5.8 billion as intervention funds for the North East in 2017”.
The Nigerian House of Representatives’ report indicted the Vice President following its investigation into the disbursement of N5.8 billion food intervention programme in the north east in 2017.
According to the report on the emergency intervention in food security in the North-East to support the population ravaged by insurgency, “a sum of N5,865,671,939.26 was approved and released in June 2017 via a memo raised from the Office of the Acting President, directing the Minister of Finance and the Accountant General of the Federation to so act.
“The details further specified a directive to the Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria from the Ministry of Finance to pay the sum from the Consolidated Revenue Fund Account which the AGF is to raise a mandate for.
“This is in contravention of the approval of the National Assembly on the issuance of Euro, Bond from which the Minister authorised payment. The Euro Bond is for specified infrastructural projects and not for discretionary intervention. Furthermore, there is no specific appropriation by the National Assembly.
“This contravenes Section 80 (4) of the 1999 Constitution as amended, which states, ‘No money shall be withdrawn from the Consolidated Revenue Fund or any other public fund of the Federation, except in the manner prescribed by the National Assembly.”
Frank in a statement in Abuja, called on the National Assembly to immediately commence impeachment process against the VP based on the House report and in line with its constitutional mandate to act as a check and balance on the Executive.
He said that with the revelations about Osinbajo’s role in this high level sleaze and the many corruption cases against top aides and appointees of President Muhammadu Buhari, “it is safe to say that the present administration is the worst so far in terms of corruption and circumvention of due process laws in the nation’s democratic history.”
He insisted that the fact that Osinbajo is a senior lawyer and Chairman of the Board of the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) – now alleged to have diverted the funds – makes it mandatory for the Vice President to immediately step aside to allow for thorough criminal investigation to determine the veracity or otherwise of the issues collusion and core raised in the House report by security and anti-corruption agencies.
He noted that it is appalling to hear that Osinbajo – despite his public anti-corruption posturing – could be remotely mentioned in a such a scam where funds meant to provide succour for hunger-ravaged Internally Displaced Persons in the North East were allegedly diverted in such brazen manner.
“As a learned gentleman, Osinbajo cannot say he did not know that it is illegal for any government official to spend funds not appropriated by the National Assembly. He should have known that it is intrinsically illegal for anybody to divert funds raised through the issuance of Euro Bond – approved by the National Assembly for specific capital projects – to fund his ‘emergency intervention.’
“What is most telling is that it now appears that the VP used his brief stay as Acting President to open up the nation’s coffers for fleecing in this manner with the approval of the N5.8billion to be disbursed from the Euro Bond account and another N17billion he caused to be released from the Ecological Fund.
“These acts of financial recklessness are most unbecoming of a person of the Vice President’s standing. He has a lot of explanations to render to his Principal – who was on medical vacation at the time – and to Nigerians – whose trust has been rudely shaken by this stinking corruption affair.
“Being a man who enjoys immunity by reason of his office, I call on him to immediately resign his position to enable him appear before the anti-corruption agencies to state his involvement or otherwise in the scam.
“To hide under the toga of Vice President and not face prosecution alongside other NEMA officials indicted by the House of Representatives report on the investigation would amount to a travesty of justice and the selectiveness that has unduly characterised the war against corruption since the inception of the present administration.
“I give the VP seven (7) days to resign his position to enable him face the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission – like ex-Governor Ayodele Fayose did recently – to clear his name.
“Should he fail to heed my humble appeal, I shall have no choice but to commence the process of making available to the public other corruption related information concerning the Vice President that will most certainly shock Nigerians,” Frank stated.
Besides, the National Assembly cannot afford to shirk on its sacred responsibilities to Nigerians, one of which is to hold the executive accountable to the people.