A 70-year-old former bureaucrat, Suleman Ghani, was arrested by National Accountability Bureau (NAB) this week on unfounded grounds, creating a wave of panic among the civil servants of the country who are already reeling from NAB high-handedness, reported The News.
The accountability watchdog nabbed the retired secretary for not objecting to a mining contract in a board meeting of the Punjab Mineral Department (PUNJMIN), which, as per reports, he never attended.
According to NAB, the inquiry conducted so far reveals prima facie involvement of Suleman Ghani, ex-chairman of Planning and Development in the commission of offences as defined under Section 9(a) and Schedule of the National Accountability Ordinance 1999.
According to the NAB document, following form basis for the immediate arrest of the accused:
(a) Accused Suleman Ghani was Punjab P&D Chairman and member of Board of PUNJMIN. He deliberately did not raise any objection to the decision made by the BoD of PUNJMIN in its 69th meeting to hold negotiation and draft MOU with M/s ERPL for joint venture agreement of iron ore deposits and Chiniot Rajoa to render favour to the company of accused Arshad Waheed.
(b) Accused Suleman Ghani mala fidely endorsed the proposed Summary of Joint Venture of M/s ERPL with PUNJMIN for the approval of CM Punjab despite the fact that PUNJMIN was not authorized to make agreement with private company as per ACT of PUNJMIN and terms of lease license and that too without any public auction, open tendering process or competitive bidding.
(c) Accused Suleman Ghani deliberately portrayed the proposed joint venture agreement as a very good opportunity by commenting that the proposal of the department will bring value to the exploitation of minerals in the province without proper scrutiny and analysis of the proposals in the section.
(d) Accused Suleman Ghani was given a fair chance to explain the allegations levelled against him; however, he failed to submit any plausible reply.
(e) The arrest of the accused is necessary for the collection of evidence and concluding the investigations in accordance with the law.
In response to the above “Grounds for Arrest”, Ghani’s response as shared by a source with The News is:
(a) I (Suleman Ghani) was an ex-officio member of the Board and I did not attend this meeting in my personal capacity. The P&D was represented by the official concerned and the matter was handled at that level. At no stage was the case put up to me.
(b) The case was examined as per matters related to P&D. Codal formalities referred to were the domain of the Mines and Minerals Deptt under the Rules of Business and P&D had no right or business to interfere in these.
(c) The summary was duly examined in light of the Mineral Policy and the economic value of the project. The comment was totally in line with this. It was an institutional comment made and genuinely perceived to be the correct one.”