A civil society group, Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project has called on the Federal Government to “publish the report of the Mallam Nuhu Ribadu Petroleum Revenue Special Task Force and punish those indicted or face legal action.”
The organisation, in a statement on Sunday by its Executive Director Adetokunbo Mumuni, condemned alleged moves to rubbish the report.
SERAP said, “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.
“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.”
SERAP added, “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.
“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 are 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 group said the government might have through its action on the report given an impression that its probe panels are mere face-saving bodies.
It 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 are nothing more than public relation exercise.
“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.”
It added that the government had faulted the report in terms of the process allegedly followed and had not been forthcoming with information on which aspects of the substantive conclusions it disagrees with.
SERAP said, “Does the government disagree with the fact that Shell is yet to pay into the Federation Account N137.572bn ($946.878m) made from gas sales from the Bonga oil field? Or that the Federation Account has been short-changed of revenues to the tune of $29bn over a 10 year period?”