Lawyer and human rights activist Femi Falana (SAN) has advised President Muhammadu Buhari to resign as the Minister of Petroleum Resources.
Falana made the call on Sunday following the leaked letter written by the Minister of State for Petroleum Resources, Ibe Kachikwu, alleging unruliness and corruption by Maikanti Baru, Group Managing Director (GMD) of the NNPC.
According to Falana, Buhari should appoint another Nigerian of proven integrity and competence to oversee the affairs of the Ministry.
He maintained that Buhari must restructure the NNPC to ensure transparency and credibility, adding that, Kachikwu’s letter showed that Buhari has neglected his duty as Petroleum Minister.
“Curiously, the Presidency has demanded for the minutes of the meetings of the NNPC Board. This demand has confirmed that the meetings of the Board which are statutory required to be chaired by the Minister of Petroleum Resources, have not been held as at when due”, Falana said.
“More importantly, the demand has corroborated that aspect of Kachukwu’s petition, alleging that the powers of the Board have been usurped by Baru.
“Therefore, the petition should provide an opportunity for the President to reorganise the NNPC, with a view to ensuring that it is publicly owned in a manner that the Board is constituted by accredited representatives of the oil producing communities and credible civil society groups, including the Trade Unions in the oil and gas industry.
“Having regard to the enormous responsibilities of the office of the Minister of Petroleum Resources and Chairman of the NNPC Board, President Buhari is advised to relinquish the ministerial position in view of his busy schedule, and appoint another Nigerian of proven integrity and competence, to superintend the affairs of the Ministry.
“If this advice is accepted in good faith and acted upon without any delay, it would remove undue pressure on the health of the President, and allow him to attend to urgent matters of the State.”
Falana also called for Baru to be suspended over the allegation while the case should be referred to the EFCC by the Presidency.
“Apart from sanctioning the officers responsible for creating the wide gulf between Dr Kachukwu and the President, the allegation of the unilateral award of contracts worth $25 billion by Dr Baru ought to be investigated in line with the anti-corruption policy of the Buhari administration”, he said.
“In order to conduct a thorough investigation into the grave allegations of the reckless contravention of the provisions of the Public Procurement Act, Mr Baru should be placed on indefinite suspension while the Presidency should refer the case to the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission.
“And once it is confirmed that the said $25 billion contracts were awarded without the approval of the NNPC Board, they should be revoked while the recent appointment of the Heads of the Parastatals in the oil and gas industry should be reviewed in line with the Constitution and the Federal Character Commission Act.”