LAHORE: The main accused in the multi-billion-rupee scam in the Oil and Gas Regulatory Authority (Ogra), Tauqir Sadiq, set the authorities on a wild goose chase, as he evaded arrest by hiding behind political firewalls.
NAB sleuths and Lahore police conducted futile raids over the weekend because their leads ended up at the Punjab Governor House and the PPP secretary general’s home, making it impossible to arrest the accused, sources said.
Sadiq, the former chairman of Ogra, wanted to surrender before the Supreme Court, where his case was under hearing. However, the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) and police wanted to arrest him and haul him in like an ordinary criminal, sources said.
NAB officials and police had refused to cooperate with Sadiq because the SC had directed them to arrest and present him on Monday, sources said.
Following court orders, a team reached Lahore from NAB headquarters in Islamabad on Friday, and after meeting with the police officials concerned, raided various suspected places to arrest Sadiq, but the posse stopped in its tracks when his presence at the Governor House was confirmed, sources said.
The raiding party created a security circle of the Special Branch, police contingent and plainclothes men around the Governor House, but Sadiq made good his escape in the Governor’s vehicle, sources claimed. No one is authorised to check the Governor’s vehicle, they said.
Two hours later, Sadiq was seen with the LPG Association office-bearer Irfan Khokhar and after visiting his uncle’s house in Iqbal Town he shifted to his brother’s farmhouse in Raiwind, sources said, adding that Lahore police was using its network of informants to locate the VIP accused.
With police party hot on his heels, Sadiq was shifting places minutes before the raids. Apparently he was being tipped off by insiders, sources said. They claimed that some officials of an intelligence agency alerted Sadiq before the raids.
Sources said that Sadiq subsequently shifted to the house of PPP Central Secretary General Senator Jahangir Badar and left for Islamabad in the evening. He was likely to appear before the Supreme Court to surrender himself in the court on Monday, sources said.
The NAB team had come to Lahore well prepared, they had informed the Lahore police in writing about the places where Sadiq could be found. The suspected hideouts also included the residence of PPP leader Azizur Rehman Chan.
Capital City Police Officer (CCPO) Aslam Tareen told The Express Tribune that the police fully cooperated with the NAB in arresting Sadiq and conducted various raids.
Sources in NAB said that the CCPO cooperated, but the IG Punjab, Commandant Punjab Constabulary and a high ranking official of an intelligence agency provided shelter to the accused and kept him informed about the movements of the raiding party so that he may escape.
These dignitaries requested the Punjab government not to arrest Sadiq and let him surrender before the SC, sources stated.
Published in The Express Tribune, October 8th, 2012.