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Ribadu Report: Presidency Denies Cover-up

Ribadu Report: Presidency Denies Cover-up

The Presidency, on Monday, denied reports that the leakage of the report of the Mallam Nuhu Ribadu-led Petroleum Revenue Special Task Force compelled it to direct that the report should be submitted on Friday.

It also refuted the claim that the draft of the report was submitted a month ago, saying there was no attempt at cover-up.

The task force, which probed oil and gas transactions between 2002 and 2012, was said to have uncovered widespread corruption and abuse of processes in the sector.

The report which uncovered high level corruption in the management of the oil sector was last week published by an international news agency, Reuters.

The 146-page confidential report, according to the international news agency, stated that Ministers of Petroleum Resources between 2008 and 2011 handed out seven discretionary oil licences. It said out of the deal, a total of $183m (N28.73bn) in signature bonuses paid by oil companies to the federation was missing

Three of the oil licences were said to have been awarded during the tenure of the current minister, Diezani Alison-Madueke, who took up her position in 2010.

However, Alison-Madueke described it as a “draft” and not the final report.

The Presidency described the published document as suspicious, adding the normal procedure was for the committee to submit its report to the authority that constituted it.

It said Jonathan had yet to get the report formally, adding that those who leaked it planned to embarrass the Federal Government.

The situation led to speculations that the Presidency might be planning to cover up the report.

In a statement on Monday, Special Adviser to the President on Media and Publicity, Dr. Reuben Abati, said the President was set to receive the report on Friday.

But Abati who featured in a radio breakfast programme, Fact File, on RayPower 100.5FM, on Monday denied the insinuation of a cover-up and said that those behind the report were playing politics with the issue.

“It is very obvious that people are trying to politicise such a thing that does not require politics. What the government is trying to do is to raise the level of integrity and accountability in a particular sector. Our position is that people should focus on that objective and not play politics with it,” he said.

Abati accused those alleging a cover-up of ignorance.

He  said, “There is no cover-up. I can tell you that categorically. You will recall that when this particular committee was set up in February, there were two other committees that were also set up to look at the different aspects of the petroleum sector.

“The position of the Federal Government at the time, which is still its position now, is to ensure transparency, probity and accountability in that critical sector. That was why independent persons were brought in to look at different aspects, including petroleum revenue over a period and to give appropriate report to government.

“Those who are saying there is a cover-up clearly do not know what they are talking about. When you set up a committee, when it finishes its work, it is expected to submit its report to the appropriate authority.

“The committee was set up based on a presidential order. When the report is ready, it will go to the appropriate authority as I pointed out in an interview with The PUNCH.”

Meanwhile, Abati in a statement on Monday said the President had directed Ribadu to submit the report to him on Friday at the Presidential Villa, Abuja.

In a separate statement, Abati said two other committees set up by the Federal Government earlier this year on different aspects of the country’s petroleum industry would also present their reports to Jonathan on the same day

He said the directive to Ribadu to present the report on Friday was in furtherance of the present administration’s commitment to transparency, probity, and accountability in the petroleum sector.

The Committee, which was set up in February 2012, was required to, among other tasks, determine and verify all petroleum upstream and downstream revenues (taxes and royalties, etc,) due and payable to the Federal Government of Nigeria, and to take all necessary steps to collect all debts due and owed; to obtain agreements and enforce payment terms by all oil industry operators.

The presentation of the Committee’s report will take place at the Presidential Villa at 11am.

One of the two other committees was established to design a new corporate governance code for ensuring full transparency, good governance and global best practices in the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation and other oil industry parastatals. It had Mr. Dotun Sulaiman as its chairman. The committee headed by Dr. Kalu Idika Kalu was charged with the responsibility of conducting a high-level assessment of the nation’s refineries and recommending ways of improving their efficiency and commercial viability.

Jonathan will receive the two reports at the Presidential Villa immediately after the presentation of Ribadu’s report.

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