Mr. Nuhu Ribadu, the pioneer chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) has been named at the head of a Petroleum Revenue Special Task Force set up by the Minister of Petroleum Resources, Mrs. Dieziani Alison-Madueke.
A government statement today said that the new task force is “Consistent with the policies and promises of President Goodluck Ebele Jonathan's Administration, and underpinned by the yearnings of the people of Nigeria for transparency in the Petroleum Industry.”
Its objective is to “enhance probity and accountability in operations of the Petroleum Industry,” and Mr. Ribadu will report to the Minister.
The team, which has 17 members, has the following terms of reference:
If Nuhu Ribadu accepts this appointment it will be another big boost for the Jonathan administration. In 2010, upon his return from exile, he personally and unilaterally cleared Mrs. Patience Jonathan, wife of the President, of the EFCC’s charges of money-laundering against her, although the file was still being processed after he had left office.
Critics would be curious that Ribadu would accept the appointment especially given the suspicious anti-corruption credentials of those behind it. Mrs. Alison-Madueke, the Minister of Petroleum Resources, has for two years been the subject of various corruption allegations, none of which has been discharged. Many Nigerians have expressed the view that she should not be supervising any investigations in the Ministry or the NNPC, given the allegations against her.
It is also on record that during his chairmanship of the EFCC, Mr. Ribadu in June 2006 headed a Joint Task Force set up by former President Olusegun Obasanjo to provide interagency muscle to the war against corruption.
That panel comprised the Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission (ICPC), the EFCC, the Code of Conduct Bureau (CCB), the Department of State Services (DSS), and the Nigerian Police, each of which provided five members. It indicted 15 governors, including Mr. Jonathan, who was then the governor of Bayelsa State. They were all found to have breached the code of conduct for public officials and were recommended for prosecution in line with the CCB Act, but no action was taken at that time and Mr. Jonathan, who was found guilty of false declaration of assets, went on to run for vice-president.
It was also in September of 2006, during a visit to the National Assembly to submit the annual report of the EFCC, that Mr. Ribadu described the corruption of Bola Tinubu, the governor of Lagos State, as having an “international dimension,” and listed money-laundering charges against Mrs. Jonathan, the wife of the governor of Bayelsa State.