By Chukwudi Nweje Assistant Features Editor
Culled from Daily Independent
Thursday, 31 2013
What would have been a bloodbath was averted on Wednesday when the Police at the office of the Independent Corrupt Practices and other related Offences Commission (ICPC) shot into the air to disperse members of the Coalition Against Corrupt Leaders (CACOL) who had come to submit a petition at the commission’s Ikoyi office in Lagos.
CACOL, led by Debo Adeniran, its Executive Chairman, had gone to the ICPC office to submit a petition demanding the investigation of Stella Oduah, the Minister of Aviation, over the controversial purchase of two bulletproof armoured cars at a possibly over invoiced cost of N225 million.
However, on their arrival at around 10:30 am, what was to be a march to submit their petition almost turned bloody when the operatives of the Nigerian Security and Civil Defence Corps (NSCDC) at the gate of the ICPC office tried to prevent the protesters from entering the premises.
However, while the group insisted on entering the commission’s office, which they insisted is a public building, a struggle ensured between them and the NSCDC, prompting one of the policemen on duty to shoot into the air to disperse the crowd. However, rather than disperse, members of the group pushed their way through the gate prompting the policeman to fire two more shots which drew the attention of CSP Shintema Binga, the Head of Lagos Operations of the ICPC.
Defending the protest march, Adeniran said the action became necessary because the establishing Act of the ICPC is defective in that it did no vest the commission with powers to undertake investigations unless it first receives a petition. “In this affect, we have come here to help you do your work,” he argued.
He said although President Goodluck Jonathan has set up a panel to investigate the allegations against the minister, their protest and petition become necessary because “most of the time when President Jonathan sets up his panels, they bury the issue rather than bring it to justice.” He further argued that “since the police has established that there has not been reported cases of threats to the life or intimidation from the minister’s quarters and the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) is also reluctant to release documents relating to the purchase, many things are shrouded in secrecy that have to be uncovered by your agency.”
CACOL, therefore, prayed the ICPC to investigate the minister for abuse of office, as well as probe the activities of the NCAA, the Nigerian Airspace Management Agency (NAMA), Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria (FAAN) and other relevant agencies under the Aviation ministry.