Report not conclusive, says Okupe
From TAIWO AMODU, Abuja
The Federal Government yesterday dismissed the report of the Petroleum Revenue Special Task Force submitted last Friday, saying it is very untidy. Former Chairman of Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) and who was also Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN) presidential candidate, Mallam Nuhu Ribadu, chaired the committee, while Olasupo Shasore (SAN), was Secretary. Addressing newsmen yesterday in Abuja, Senior Special Assistant to the President on Public Affairs, Dr Doyin Okupe, told newsmen that the Ribadu committee did not meet up on the terms of reference of its assignment.
Displaying a copy of the letter dated November 1, 2012 and addressed to the office of the Minister of Petroleum Resources, Diezani Alison-Madueke, titled: “Submission of final report of the petroleum revenue special task force’’ and signed by Mallam Nuhu Ribadu and Olasupo Shasore, Chairman and Secretary respectively, Okupe noted that Ribadu’s claim in the letter that it concluded its assignment in accordance with the terms of reference given to it, was unfounded. “It was a job handled badly and only political and personal interests were bandied. It is most unfortunate. A cursory look at the report mischievously leaked to Reuters and other international media and the one submitted on November 2, 2012 to President Goodluck Jonathan shows some discrepancies.
In the covering letter submitted by President Jonathan and signed by Mallam Ribadu and Shasore, the first paragraph reads: ‘We have the pleasure of reporting the conclusion of the assignment given to the Petroleum Revenue Special Task Force (PRSTF) in accordance with its terms of reference as laid out at the inauguration of the task force. We enclose our final report of work done together with our key findings and recommendations.
This statement is untrue as paragraph one of the terms of reference of the committee mandated it: To work with consultants and experts to determine and verify all petroleum upstream and downstream revenues (tax royalties, etc) due and payable to Federal Government of Nigeria. Unfortunately and most regrettably, this paramount duty of the PRSTF committee could not be accomplished,’’ he said. Dr Okupe revealed that Ribadu admitted in the covering letter to his committee report that the data used in arriving at its report could not be independently verified and advised that the Federal Government should on its own conduct such necessary verifications and reconciliations. “From the above, therefore, the committee failed to carry out a very critical part of its assignment and instead passed on the duty of reconciliation and verification of data to the government.
The further implication of this, which is an obvious disclaimer issued by the committee on the report, makes it impossible under our laws to indict or punish anybody except, and until, the Federal Government fully verifies and reconciles the facts as recommended by the committee in its submission to the government’’, Okupe said. While he insisted that Ribadu committee’s job was not thorough, Okupe assured Nigerians that it would issue a white paper on its report. “The commitment of President Jonathan in ordering a thorough investigation of the petroleum sector is genuine and cannot be faulted.
Unfortunately, the entire report is being overtly politicized and there is an obvious attempt in certain quarters to disparage the genuine effort of Mr. President to bring sanity and cleanse the Nigerian oil sector once and for all. “All the work that needed to be done to ensure the completeness of the report would be done by government. Government is looking at the report, there will be a white paper on it and it will be implemented,’’ he said.