Defamation Case: Group Demand Buhari’s Sacking Of Junior Petroleum Resources Minister, Sylva Over Summons By U.S. Court

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The group accused Sylva of gross incompetence in handling the nation’s fuel crisis and using taxpayers’ money to fund the legal fees and planned appearance before the U.S Court.
A civil society organisation under the aegis of Nigerians for Transformational Change (NTC) has called on President Muhammadu Buhari to sack the Minister of State for Petroleum Resources, Timipre Sylva over a defamation case involving the minister.

Sylva has allegedly been summoned by the United States Federal Court to defend his defamation case in the Eastern District of Pennsylvania, scheduled for August 11, 2022.

The group accused Sylva of gross incompetence in handling the nation’s fuel crisis and using taxpayers’ money to fund the legal fees and planned appearance before the U.S Court.

A United States Federal Court Judge for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania, Joseph Lesson, Jnr, had ordered Sylva to appear in person on August 11, 2022, to defend his defamation case against Mr. Jackson Ude over publications of alleged bribery, fraud and corruption in the awarding of the Nigeria Liquefied Natural Gas (NLNG) Train 7 Contract in a joint venture led by Italy’s Saipem involving $4 billion for engineering, procurement and construction of Nigeria LNG’s seventh production unit at its Bonny Island plant in Rivers State.

The group, represented by Engr. Lawan Yahaya, in a statement issued to journalists via electronic mail, called on President Buhari to sack Sylva, stating that “despite Sylva’s gross incompetence in handling the petroleum industry, which is destroying our aviation sector, Sylva wants to jeopardize our national security by appearing in a U.S. federal court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania, where he might be publicly grilled by the defendant legal team to reveal government contractual agreements, transactions, and other issues bordering on our nation’s security interests.”

Yahaya commended the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) for speaking on the continued scarcity of fuel in Nigeria, the pains of having adulterated fuel in circulation, and how it worsened the hardship Nigerians are going through.

“How can we be major oil producers but have failed to fix our refineries and find lasting solutions to the challenge of oil subsidy? Nigerians should not continue to suffer due to the negligence and incompetence of people holding public offices. Why should our leaders abuse the patience of our citizens?”

“Nigerians are still battling with insecurity, poverty, and now fuel crisis and nobody has ever been held responsible for all our pains, sufferings, and the poor services that we are getting.

Unless and until someone takes responsibility to deliver services to citizens or to resign for failure to deliver services to the nation this evil may not end soon,” the statement read in part.

Yahaya asked how Sylva who was once arrested by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) in Nigeria on allegations of fraud and corruption amounting to millions of dollars, including allegations of fraudulently owing 48 properties, can successfully win in a U.S. Federal Court.

Yahaya called on President Buhari to immediately sack Sylva as Minister of State for Petroleum Resources before he further drags the nation’s name into disrepute.

A close associate to Chief Timipre Sylva, who spoke on condition of anonymity, dismissed the group’s call and described the defamation case as one that will follow legal direction.

The minister’s associate said the case should not be used to blackmail the minister out of office.
“It was the minister that filed the defamation suit against Jackson Ude and why should such a suit now be used to call for his sacking? We stand with the minister in this case,” his associate said.