In a political script of life imitating art imitating life, Mr. Nuhu Ribadu, the pioneer chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) has been named at the head of a Petroleum Revenue Special Task Force set up by the Minister of Petroleum Resources, Mrs. Dieziani Alison-Madueke.
A government statement today said that the new task force is “Consistent with the policies and promises of President Goodluck Ebele Jonathan's Administration, and underpinned by the yearnings of the people of Nigeria for transparency in the Petroleum Industry.”
Its objective is to “enhance probity and accountability in operations of the Petroleum Industry,” and Mr. Ribadu will report to the Minister.
The team, which has 17 members, has the following terms of reference:
• To work with consultants and experts to determine and verify all petroleum upstream and downstream revenues (taxes, royalties, etc.) due and payable to the Federal Government of Nigeria;
• To take all necessary steps to collect all debts due and owing; to obtain agreements and enforce payment terms by all oil industry operators;
• To design a cross debt matrix between all Agencies and Parastatals of the Federal Ministry of Petroleum Resources;
• To develop an automated platform to enable effective tracking, monitoring, and online validation of income and debt drivers of all Parastatals and Agencies in the Federal Ministry of Petroleum Resources;
• To work with world-class consultants to integrate systems and technology across the production chain to determine and monitor crude oil production and exports, ensuring at all times, the integrity of payments to the Federal Government of Nigeria; and,
• To submit monthly reports for ministerial review and further action.
The members of the committee are as follows:
1. Mallam Nuhu Ribadu - Chairman
2. Mr. Steve Oronsaye - Dep. Chairman
3. Mallam Abba Kyari - Member
4. Ms. Benedicta Molokwu - Member
5. Mr. Supo Sasore, SAN - Member
6. Mr. Tony Idigbe, SAN - Member
7. Mr. Anthony George-Ikoli, SAN - Member
8. Dr. (Mrs.) Omolara Akanji - Member
9. Mr. Olisa Agbakoba, SAN - Member
10. Mr. Ituah Ighodalo - Member
11. Mr. Bon Otti - Member
12. Prof. Olusegun Okunnu - Member
13. Mallam Samaila Zubairu - Member
14. Mr.Ignatius Adegunle - Member
15. Mr. Gerald Ilukwe - Member
16. Rep. of FIRS - Ex-Officio
17. Rep. of FMF Incorporated - Ex-Officio
If Nuhu Ribadu accepts this appointment it will be another big boost for the Jonathan administration. In 2010, upon his return from exile, he personally and unilaterally cleared Mrs. Patience Jonathan, wife of the President, of the EFCC’s charges of money-laundering against her, although the file was still being processed after he had left office.
Critics would be curious that Ribadu would accept the appointment especially given the suspicious anti-corruption credentials of those behind it. Mrs. Alison-Madueke, the Minister of Petroleum Resources, has for two years been the subject of various corruption allegations, none of which has been discharged. Many Nigerians have expressed the view that she should not be supervising any investigations in the Ministry or the NNPC, given the allegations against her.
It is also on record that during his chairmanship of the EFCC, Mr. Ribadu in June 2006 headed a Joint Task Force set up by former President Olusegun Obasanjo to provide interagency muscle to the war against corruption.
That panel comprised the Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission (ICPC), the EFCC, the Code of Conduct Bureau (CCB), the Department of State Services (DSS), and the Nigerian Police, each of which provided five members. It indicted 15 governors, including Mr. Jonathan, who was then the governor of Bayelsa State. They were all found to have breached the code of conduct for public officials and were recommended for prosecution in line with the CCB Act, but no action was taken at that time and Mr. Jonathan, who was found guilty of false declaration of assets, went on to run for vice-president.
It was also in September of 2006, during a visit to the National Assembly to submit the annual report of the EFCC, that Mr. Ribadu described the corruption of Bola Tinubu, the governor of Lagos State, as having an “international dimension,” and listed money-laundering charges against Mrs. Jonathan, the wife of the governor of Bayelsa State.