A civil society group, Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) has called on the Federal Government to “publish the report of the Mallam Nuhu Ribadu led Petroleum Revenue Special Task Force and punish those indicted or face legal action.”
The organization in a public statement dated 11 November 2012 and signed by its Executive Director Adetokunbo Mumuni said that, “Rather than emphasising the fundamental principles highlighted and using the Ribadu report as a framework for further concrete action to combat impunity for corruption in the oil sector, the government has embarked on a widespread public campaign to rubbish the report of a task force that it voluntarily commissioned. This is hugely disappointing, and in fact has embarrassed our country in the comity of nations.”
According to the organization, “No report anywhere in the world is perfect but the way the government has conducted itself in this case suggests that it is not politically committed to honouring the country’s international anti-corruption obligations and commitments, including under the UN Convention against Corruption and the African Union Convention on Preventing and Combating Corruption to which Nigeria is a state party.”
“The way and extent to which the government has gone to discredit the outcome of the enquiry by its own task force, however tentative the conclusions of the report may be, suggests that this government has something to hide,” the organization also stated.
“To combat systemic corruption and the root causes of impunity of perpetrators, we urge the government to urgently and publicly commit to the full and effective implementation of the Ribadu report and other similar reports. Verifying and reconciling some of the facts established by the report is good but must never be used as an excuse to dump it. Otherwise, it would be a case of using technicality to undermine the need for justice and accountability for the economic crimes well documented by the report,” the organization also said.
“If this government fails to publish the Ribadu report and allow the citizens to see for themselves the information the report contains, our citizens will be absolutely justified to conclude that the government’s constant resort to setting up committees and task forces to supposedly uncover the truth about corruption allegations is nothing more than a public relation exercise,” the organization further stated.
According to the organization, “Instead of keeping Nigerians in the dark on the recommendations of the report and information about those indicted, the government needs to speak out urgently if it is to demonstrate that it is truly committed to the fight against not just corruption involving the ‘small fry’ but also corruption involving the ‘big fish’ at the highest level of government.”
The organization also said that, “While the government has strenuously faulted the report in terms of the process allegedly followed, it has not been forthcoming with information as to exactly which aspects of the substantive conclusions it disagrees with it. Does the government disagree with the fact that Shell is yet to pay into the Federation Account a total of N137.572 billion ($946.878 million) made from gas sales from the Bonga oil field? Or that the Federation Account has been short-changed of revenues to the tune of $29 billion over a 10 year period?”
“Unfortunately, the government’s reaction to the Ribadu report illustrates the chronic failure or lack of enthusiasm and commitment by the government to implement recommendations of reports of countless commissions and task forces concerning allegations of corruption at the highest level of government,” the organization also stated.
According to the organization, “A public commitment to implement the report will send a powerful message that this government will not tolerate corruption at the highest level of government, and will represent an important step forward in the government’s fight against corruption and corporate secrecy and impunity. This public commitment backed up with a strong political will is key to breaking the cycle of corruption that blights the lives of millions of people across the country.”
“If the government refuses to take this path, SERAP will consider appropriate legal actions nationally and internationally to ensure strict enforcement of Nigeria’s international anticorruption and human rights obligations and commitments by compelling the government to explain to the Nigerian people the recommendations contained in the Ribadu report and other similar reports (such as the KPMG report and the reports on the $180 million Halliburton bribe scandal), and what the government’s plans are to effectively implement these reports,” the organization further stated.
It would be recalled that the Ribadu committee, set up in February, after nationwide protests over the attempted removal of fuel subsidies, was asked to verify the government’s income from oil and gas, and make recommendations to the government. Apart from the Ribadu report, the Nigeria Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative reports, the first covering the period 1999 to 2004, the second 2005, and the third 2006 to 2008, and the House of Representatives Ad hoc Committee on fuel subsidy, also revealed how oil revenues had been stolen at both upstream and downstream ends of the oil trade. NEITI, for instance, disclosed that the Federal Government earned a total of $269 billion from the oil sector within the period 1999-2008, which had little impact on the welfare of the citizens.
A new report by the Financial Times alleges that over 180,000 barrels of stolen Nigerian crude are sold daily in the international black market. Apart from the N86.6 billion fleeced by NNPC executives through fraudulent foreign exchange rate conversion, the Ribadu panel detailed losses to the nation of N16 trillion through questionable deficits and theft; N178 billion worth of refined fuel through pipeline vandalism; $5 billion short-payment by the NNPC, and $3.02 billion in unpaid royalties among other sordid details. NEITI had earlier revealed how NNPC officials and their collaborators fraudulently misused the 445,000 bpd allocated for domestic refining for corrupt enrichment and how laws and global best practices are flagrantly flouted by the corporation.