Men from the Department of State Security (DSS) over the weekend invaded the home of the Niger Delta Correspondent of the Thomson Reuters in the Niger Delta Mr. Tife Owolabi over alleged espionage.
The security operatives who carted away personal computers and electronics of the correspondent, accused him of working against the interest of the country.
The DSS men who invaded the house late Saturday night spent over four hours ransacking the house even as they held him and his wife hostage. The men claimed that they were acting on orders from Abuja.
The DSS men, who did not exactly state what they were looking for, left with the mobile telephones of Owolabi and his wife, Jane, along with other items carted away.
He was later arrested before being released to the State Chairman of the Nigerian Union of journalists (NUJ) Comrade Tare Akono.
Confirming the development, the Reuters correspondent, Owolabi stated that “the DSS men stormed my apartment on Saturday to conduct a search and claimed it was based on the order from ta Abuja.The DSS men claimed that I am unpatriotic owing to my job and relationship with the Thomas Reuters.”
“They claimed that they gathered that I sent or planning to send “negative” report to the outside world. I believe it is a deliberate clampdown on international journalists. All my working tools including Gadgets, cameras, laptops, iPad and hard drives are with them. I was asked to report back on Monday.”
NNPC Audit Report: Apologise to Jonathan, Alison-Madueke, Group Urges Sanusi, Others
Following the submission of its audit report on the Nigeria National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) by PriceWaterhouseCoopers, which indicated that only $1.48b was yet to be remitted to the federation account as against $49b mentioned as missing, a Civil Society group, Move On Nigeria, has called for public apology from Emir of Kano, Alhaji Muhammed Sanusi II and the opposition party, which had echoed the wild and controversial allegation.
The group said, as a mark of honour, the onus now falls on the Kano Emir, who as governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), raised the initial alarm that led to the probe.
In a statement made available to journalists in Abuja, the group stated that the hoax raised by Sanusi, was an embarrassment to President Goodluck Jonathan, Minister of Petroleum Resources, Mrs. Diezani Alison-Madueke and to the Nigerian state and as such ought to be followed by an apology, having been found to be untrue.
According to the group, the allegation focused more international attention on Nigeria just like the audit report did, adding that with the world watching, those who initially raised the allegation, and indeed, “all those who reached judgemental conclusions, ought to swallow their pride and tender public apology to the president, the minister and also the senate of the Federal Republic”.
It said such and act will be a show of humility, natural patriotism and respect for self and others.
“Recall that the incumbent Emir of Kano, Alhaji Muhammed Sanusi II, a man we all hold in high esteem, as governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), raised the initial allegation that set off the probe by the audit firm of PriceWaterhouseCoopers.
“We also note that the Senate had mandated its committee of Finance chaired by Ahmed Makarfi to investigate the allegation. Despite the senate declaring that no money was missing, the figures kept changing and eventually we were left with something like $49b missing.
“That prompted Minister of Finance and Coordinating Minister of the Economy, Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala to institute a probe by the audit firm of PriceWaterhouseCoopers, which recently submitted the final report to President Jonathan.
“In its report, the auditors stated that “1. The gross revenue generated from FGN crude oil lifting for the period 1 January 2012 to 31 July 2013, was US$69.34billion and not US$67billion reported by the Reconciliation Committee. 2. The total cash remitted into the Federation Accounts in relation to these crude oil lifting, was US$50.81billion and not US$47billion as earlier reported by the Reconciliation Committee. 3. The balance of the generated revenue is accounted for as follows: a)Revenue reported by NPDC of US$5.11billion reported by the MD, Mr. Briggs during the Senate hearings will be accounted for through the financial statements of NPDC, and any dividend declared will flow into the Federation account. b) PMS and DPK Subsidy of US$8.7billion c) NNPC’s initial costs verified and accepted by the senate of US$2.65billion d) Additional NNPC costs following the forensic audit US$2.81billion e) Added to the Revenue is the unremitted NPDC signature bonus due for divested assets and taxes/royalties totaling US$2.22billion. e) Hence the net amount attributable to the federation account following the above summary is US$1.48billion” the group said in the statement signed by its national Coordinator, Clem Aguiyi.
According to the group, the audit report, which has put to rest issues involved in the allegation, makes it more than necessary for “all those who reached judgemental conclusions, ought to swallow their pride and tender public apology to the president, the minister and also the senate of the Federal Republic”.
“As a group which was in support of the call for a probe, we now feel that having had the result with the allegation of $49billion missing proven to be false, we therefore call on the Emir of Kano, and indeed, all those who worked to heat up the polity and insulted the President of the Federal Republic and the Minister of Petroleum Resources, to own up to their faults and apologise to the nation”, it said.
Speaking further, the group said “such apology will come as fence mending and a mark of honour given that this was an issue that attracted attention of the international community”.
MoveOn Nigeria however called on President Jonathan, to take action on other recommendations by the report while also urging the national Assembly to expedite action on the passage of the Petroleum Industry Bill (PIB), which according to it, will expressly resolve some of the findings of the audit as regards NNPC procedures and enabling law.
The group called on government to establish special corruption courts with specialised judges so as to ensure speedy conclusion of corruption cases. A situation where corruption cases are allowed to linger for some times 12 years without conclusion is grossly unacceptable. The group coordinator also urged for the probe of the activities of NNPC under Obasanjo era so as to put a closure to all the wide allegations and speculations concerning loses in revenue to the Federal government.
The President praised the Jonathan administration for having the courage to audit itself .