Mallam Nuhu Ribadu
By Chuks Okocha
Following the controversy that has trailed the leaked report of the Petroleum Revenue Special Task Force and the directive by President Goodluck Jonathan that the committee submit its report today, the committee met for several hours yesterday in Abuja to put finishing touches to its report, which is distinct from the one that was quoted by Reuters news agency and all the newspapers last week.
The report, which the committee, headed by the former Chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), Mallam Nuhu Ribadu, finalised yesterday, is different from the report that has been in circulation, and will be submitted at 11 am Friday to the president, in line with his directive.
Reuters had published a story last week, which uncovered the tens of billions of dollars that had been lost in cut-price deals struck between multinational oil companies and government officials in the oil and gas sector.
The newswire claimed that it had obtained the exclusive from the “final” report of the committee.
But THISDAY has gathered that members of the 17-man committee have distanced themselves from the so-called report, which also made its way to the Internet, and have expressed dismay that an unfinished draft was leaked, even when members of its sub-committees had not made their input into the report.
Two members of the committee, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, said that the problem stemmed from when the committee had submitted a draft to the Minister of Petroleum Resources, Mrs. Diezani Alison-Madueke, in August and requested input from her office.
However, after the submission of the draft, the minister and petroleum ministry failed to contact the committee for two months, which must have frustrated some members, who then leaked the unfinished report.
One member explained Thursday night that the report that Reuters and other newspapers quoted was not the authentic report, adding “We took the report to the minister in August. Unfortunately, she took too long in calling the committee to make her observations and some people must have lost patience and leaked it.”
He said: “We were surprised to read a report we never compiled and appended our signatures to. We have to insist that a meeting must be summoned since the president has directed that we should submit our report by Friday.”
According to the committee member, “As we speak, the authentic report has been finished and will be submitted to the president tomorrow (today) and all of us will append our signatures to it.”
On the discord that occurred among members of the committee when Ribadu was alleged to have over-reached his mandate and solicited the assistance of the EFCC to get the oil companies found to be indebted to the Federal Government to pay the monies they owe, he said this was stopped once it came to their attention.
“Once we got to know that Nuhu Ribadu, through the EFCC, had started to contact the oil companies, this was stopped because it was not part of our terms of reference.
“Our mandate was very clear and it is for the Federal Government to decide on the next line of action based on our findings,” he said.
The Ribadu committee was among three other committees set up following a week of nationwide strikes against the increase in the price of fuel in January, which morphed into a campaign against oil corruption.
It had as its 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.