Reuters: President Jonathan may not prosecute those indicted by subsidy probe report

by Lekan Olanrewaju

Bad news – at least for those who were getting excited at the prospects that indicted parties in the House of Reps fuel subsidy probe will be prosecuted; you may be getting your hopes up for nothing. The odds may not be in the favour of President Jonathan cracking down on those spotlighted by the damning report, according to a news analysis.

President Jonathan had previously asked Nigerians to be patient regarding the prosecution but international news agency, Reuters recently interviewed a number of people , who all seemed to share the same sentiments on the idea of the probe report being acted on. In simple terms? Not gonna happen.

See excerpts below:

“I don’t think we’re going to see high level officials in jail … that would imply his regime had imploded,” said Patrick Smith, editor of Africa Confidential. “The government didn’t want this to come out. It isn’t hard to track back some of this to the top people in government.”

“In the past pressure for change has usually prompted the casting aside of a scapegoat,” said Antony Goldman, Nigeria analyst and head of Africa-focused PM Consulting. “Too many people in the ruling elite do not want an end to corruption, they just want their turn. From an external perspective, failure to act may indeed look like weakness; the domestic environment is more complex.”

Civil society groups have threatened protests if those they see as responsible for the mess, including Oil Minister Diezani Alison-Madueke, and heads of the state oil firm, aren’t sacked.

In January, the country was brought to a standstill by a nationwide strike called by national labour unions in protest of the government’s removal of the fuel subsidy.

“The president is hoping this will blow away and we believe his own vested interests are holding him back,” speculated Clement Nwankwo, a political activist with the Abuja-based Policy and Legal Advocacy Centre, one of many civil society organisations that joined the protests in January.

“If he is going to act, he needs to be very careful … the scam reaches into many powerful crannies,” said Kayode Akindele, partner at Lagos-based financial advisory firm 46 Parallels.

The full story is at Reuters.

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