The pioneer Chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, Mr. Nuhu Ribadu, on Tuesday said he would have unravelled those behind the multibillion naira fuel subsidy scam in the country if he was still in charge of the anti-graft agency.
The former EFCC boss, who currently chairs the Special Petroleum Revenue Task Force constituted by the Federal Government, stressed that failure of regulatory agencies in the petroleum industry led to the monumental fraud in the administration of the subsidy regime.
Ribadu spoke as a guest at the Visitor’s Forum organised by the Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission.
He said, “If the Petroleum Products Pricing Regulatory Agency had done its job, the whole subsidy mess would not have happened. If I were to handle this subsidy thing, I will just go after the PPPRA, especially those who were at the helm when all these mess took place.
“In one week, I will bring out every single person who took one penny. I will not bother myself with anybody else; I will just get them because nobody would make a penny out of the subsidy regime without the direct complicity of the PPPRA.”
Ribadu added, “The regulatory agencies in the sector are directly responsible because it is government’s money. When such money goes out, it has to go through somebody, who is a government employee that has responsibility to protect it and make sure that we get value for every dime spent. It must be with his own conspiracy that money goes out for products or services.
“Therefore, one can easily come to the conclusion that it was a failure of the regulators and those that have responsibility, and we would like to see justice done on those who allowed the nation’s money to go out in that manner.”
Ribadu also expressed confidence in the capacity of the present EFCC to get to the root of the fuel subsidy fraud, but added that the work could take more time than might have been anticipated by the public.
He said, “I know that the EFCC is working very hard on the matter, and I believe they will not disappoint millions of Nigerians who are expecting a just and reasonable conclusion on the matter. They are working on it, and sometimes, this kind of work does take time so that it will be able to stand the test of prosecution.
“They need to assemble evidence so that they can have a successful prosecution because it is an issue of law enforcement and recovery. My take is that we can still get justice; it is a matter of time, and, ultimately, I have belief that Nigerians will see justice done in the matter.”
“They must be given space and time to do their work effectively. There should not be any outside interference. In the present crop of leadership in the EFCC, we have quality people; some of the best that we can get in our country today, in my personal view,” Ribadu added.
He said as head of EFCC, he requested the London Metropolitan Police to investigate former President Olusegun Obasanjo and other top government officials.
He also expressed confidence in the capacity of the anti-graft agency to arrest and prosecute those involved in the controversial oil subsidy fraud.
Obviously making reference to those that had criticised his work at EFCC for alleged bias, Ribadu said he made a request to the London MET to investigate Obasanjo and other top government officials, adding that some heavyweights in the administration were equally investigated and prosecuted by EFCC under his watch.
He said that it was under his watch that a former National Vice Chairman of the Peoples Democratic Party, Chief Olabode George, was investigated and recommended for trial.
Ribadu said, “We did the investigation and would have arrested him (George), but he escaped from the country. He only returned a few weeks after I was removed and was arrested by my successor and charged to court.”
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