Sunday, December 4, 2022

EXCLUSIVE: DPR suspends three officials accused of leaking Bashir Ahmad, others’ plum jobs to Peoples Gazette

Obianuju Akwunwa of public affairs unit, personnel information chief S.H. Hussaini and another staff member identified as B.O. Moedu were wrongfully singled out for retribution.

• March 10, 2021
Bashir and DPR
Bashir and DPR

The Department of Petroleum Resources (DPR) has launched a company-wide crackdown on officials accused of leaking internal documents to the public, Peoples Gazette can report, in a desperate attack against transparency and accountability in public service.

Three officials were suspended in February on allegations of disclosing restricted internal communications of the energy sector regulator, coming barely days after the Gazette exposed how officials of President Muhammadu Buhari were favoured with lucrative positions for which they lacked the requisite educational or vocational background to exert. 

A letter obtained by Peoples Gazette, dated February 23, 2021, conveyed the directive of DPR’s chief executive — in league with the agency’s management board — to indefinitely suspend the accused personnel pending the conclusion of an internal probe on the matter.

Sarki Auwalu
DPR CEO Sarki Auwalu [Photo credit: DPR]

Obianuju Akwunwa of the DPR’s public affairs unit, and another staff member identified as Moedu B.O., were wrongfully singled out for retribution by the oil and gas regulatory body. The Gazette also obtained the first draft of the controversial suspension letter that went to Ms. Akwunwa, who could not be reached for comments. 

A third official, identified as S.H. Hussaini, deputy manager, personnel information, promotion and discipline, was also suspended, days after he signed the suspension letter of Ms. Akwunwa, the Gazette learnt. 

DPR letter of suspension
DPR letter of suspension

Although the Gazette learnt from officials at the DPR that the three officials were suspended, the Gazette was only able to obtain the suspension letter of Ms. Akwunwa, which nonetheless confirmed the rage of DPR’s management officials and their blinded ambition to quietly punish innocent officials for a story they had publicly denied as untrue. 

It was also unclear whether or not the two other officials were also suspended indefinitely like Ms. Akwunwa.  

The misguided administrative reprisals came one week after the Gazette exposed how President Muhammadu Buhari appointed his junior media aide Bashir Ahmad to supervise the newly-established National Production Monitoring System (NPMS) — a powerful and lucrative division at the DPR on February 15.

President Buhari -2
President Buhari (Photo Credit: Twitter)

Mr. Ahmad, a former Hausa language reporter who was not qualified for the job, denied the allegations, but the Gazette published his employment letter on February 16, following which the DPR was pressured to publicly deny its own document. The Gazette also exposed similar jobs approved for four other aides and associates of the president, as well as another top role for Aisha Buhari’s brother at PTDF, another top-tier agency of the Nigerian government.

Despite promising transparency, the Buhari administration has continued to target officials who expose corruption and rot in public service. In many cases, as with the latest targeting of DPR officials, the government punished innocent officials as it seeks retribution for leaks.

But in other cases, several officials were suspended and charged for providing information about corruption in one federal agency to another law enforcement body, all aimed at scaring potential whistleblowers of widespread sharp practices by top administration officials.

Justifying the administrative action taken against some DPR personnel, DPR’s management said Mr. Ahmad and others’ plum jobs, especially the appointment letter, could never have come out but for the alleged role played by the now-suspended staff members, an official said.

The DPR official also told the Gazette that the management had been able to trace the PDF employment letter obtained by our reporters to one of the agency’s computers. 

“They said the file was downloaded from one of their computers and it should be one of them who did it,” the official said under anonymity to comment on an ongoing investigation.

For three days, Paul Osu, a spokesman for DPR, declined calls and messages from the Gazette’s reporters and editors about why Ms. Akwunwa and others were suspended. Mr. Osu was the official who signed the false statement disowning the agency’s own document amidst a storm of requests from pro-government trolls on social media for a denial from the agency.

A DPR official told the Gazette the agency backtracked on its dubious employment of the president’s aides because it realised that the controversial appointments could further amplify Mr. Buhari’s provocative culture of skewing federal positions of interest in favour of his tribe and cronies.

We have recently deactivated our website's comment provider in favour of other channels of distribution and commentary. We encourage you to join the conversation on our stories via our Facebook, Twitter and other social media pages.

More from Peoples Gazette

England vs Senegal

Sport

Qatar 2022: England’s Three Lions devour Teranga Lions of Senegal to reach World Cup quarterfinals

Two first half goals from Jordan Henderson and Harry Kane and another in the second half by Bukayo Saka secured England’s spot in the quarterfinals.

A composite of Atiku Abubakar and Dubai city used to illustrate the story

Health

I may not patronise Nigerian hospitals if elected president: Atiku

Peter Obi of the Labour Party said he would use Nigerian doctors if elected president, adding that available facilities would be improved to meet global standards.

Kwankwaso and Atiku

Hot news Home top

Atiku should lower fees at his university if he’s serious about education in Nigeria: Kwankwaso

Mr Abubakar of the Peoples Democratic Party, Mr Kwankwaso and Peter Obi of the Labour Party are among the presidential candidates taking part in today’s dialogue.

A composite of Bandits and Gambo Isah used to illustrate the story.

Heading 5

Bandits shoot imam, abduct 19 worshipers inside Katsina mosque; police rescue six

The incident was first reported by resident witnesses who said that the attackers had injured and shot the chief imam and one other worshipper during prayers.

A composite of Femi Falana, Recoloured notes and President Muhammadu Buhari used to illustrate the story.

Economy

Naira Recolouring: Buhari regime breached Constitution, says Femi Falana

Mr Falana argued that the Constitution requires Mr Buhari to present a Money Bill for the withdrawal of funds that will be used to print the recoloured notes