At last, some people are in the dock for the fuel subsidy scam. We do not know yet which of the reports of the many inquiries the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, is using to file the charges against the accused. There is the Farouk Lawan report, which many Nigerians hailed for the courage shown in producing it. The Senate also conducted its own investigations into the fuel subsidy scandal. And the President Goodluck Jonathan administration also conducted its own investigations into the fuel subsidy palaver. The last investigation was led by Aigboje Aig-Imokhuede, group managing director of Access Bank. What is certain though is that the EFCC is not likely to be using the Lawan report which is already tainted by the bribery saga. From the list of those who are being prosecuted so far, the whole subsidy scam is looking more like a big rotten onion. No sooner is one skin peeled than you encounter more decay in the next layer. Until the first set of accused was charged recently, those who benefitted from the scam were largely faceless.
Now we know Mahmud Tukur, who is the son of Bamanga Tukur, chairman of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP. Another scion of a prominent Nigerian, Abdullahi Arisekola-Alao, is also on trial. His father is Azeez Arisekola-Alao, a business magnate. Of course, the trial of the duo has raised quite some dust in the public domain. Confronted by reporters on his son’s trial, Arisekola-Alao did not speak tongue-in-cheek. His reply was to the effect that his son was not only an adult but a Muslim who should face the music of the games he played on the fuel subsidy court. The opposition has been unsparing of Tukur, however. The Action Congress of Nigeria, ACN, has called for his resignation. The call is a classic case of visiting a son’s sins on the father. And why not in this matter? There had been speculations while the fuel subsidy drama was on in the House of Representatives that those who benefitted from the scam were mere fronts for some big men in power. Now that the sons of politicians and businessmen are being held responsible for the fuel subsidy scam, the concern of those who are asking the chairman of the PDP to vacate his position is morally justified. How free can a judge be to convict Tukur, the son of the ruling party’s chairman? In saner climes than our own where probity and transparency count, Bamanga Tukur should have vacated his post as soon as he learnt of his son’s involvement.
The reaction of the Presidency so far is that Mahmud Tukur’s involvement was unfortunate, but the trial must go on. Of course, it must. What would be the outcome of the trial is what everybody is waiting for, especially now that a special adviser to President Goodluck Jonathan, by implication, is standing as surety for Christian Taylor, one of those standing trial. Mariam Ali is the wife of Ahmadu Ali, former chairman of the ruling party, and she is the special adviser on inter-governmental relations. Mamman Nasir Ali, Ali’s son, is equally undergoing trial for the subsidy scam. And pray, what interpretation do we give to the withdrawal of charges against four of the accused. Mohammed Adoke, attorney general of the federation, assured Nigerians that the delay in charging the accused to court was to ensure a thorough job by the prosecution. Now, it seems the prosecution failed to do a thorough job in the case of the “innocent four.” How many of such withdrawals can the nation expect? Only time will tell.