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Last Updated: Wednesday, 21 March 2007, 16:54 GMT
Nigeria leader indicted for graft
Nigeria's president
President Obasanjo is standing down after two terms in office
A Nigerian Senate committee has indicted the president and his deputy for corruption over an oil fund.

The committee recommends both President Olusegun Obasanjo and Vice-President Atiku Abubakar be prosecuted.

The committee resigned after pressure to block the report. The Senate will now consider the report but not until after general elections next month.

Mr Obasanjo stands down after two terms in office, but Mr Abubakar has been barred from running.

It is the first time a Nigerian Senate committee has accused President Obasanjo of corruption.

A government ministerial panel had accused Mr Abubakar of diverting money belonging to the Petroleum Technology Development Fund (PTDF).

The country's anti-graft agency, the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) which examined the PTDF financial records accused Mr Abubakar of diverting some $145m to his personal businesses.

Mr Abubakar denies all the charges and is in court challenging his exclusion from the presidential election.

'Integrity'

The senate committee report found Mr Abubakar approved $20m from the PTDF account without the president's approval.

The committee report which was obtained by the BBC also found that Mr Obasanjo had "illegally" approved the spending of over $27m dollars for some government projects.

"With regards to the approval which the vice president gave in respect of the $20m on 14 October 2003, without the authority of Mr President, the committee views the approval of the vice president as illegal" the report says.

"In respect of some projects commenced by PTDF in 2006 for which Mr President gave approval and later got them ratified retroactively, the committee views the action of the president, Chief Olusegun Obasanjo, as illegal."

A member of the committee told the BBC there had been efforts to make them tone down some aspects of the report which indicted the president.

Senator Umar Tsauri, chairman of the committee, told the BBC they had met "repeated roadblocks" in trying to present the report to the Senate and felt its release before the elections was being prevented.

"We pleaded with the leadership of the Senate to allow us to present our report but they said no and we just felt it was better to resign because it'd be a blow to our integrity," he said.

"Our integrity was at stake. We resigned because we are principled people."

BBC reporters in Nigeria say much of the political significance of the report will be lost once President Obasanjo stands down in May.




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