by Isi Esene
Doyin Okupe, the special assistant to the president on public affairs, on Thursday in Abuja, organised a press conference announcing to the public that the contentious report on Petroleum Special Task Force is a toothless bulldog which is incapable of indicting anyone.
The petroleum special task force was led by former Economic and Financial Crimes Commission chairman, Nuhu Ribadu. He submitted the report to president Goodluck Jonathan last Friday at an event marred with bad-blood and undisguised acrimony with the deputy chairman of the task force, Steve Oronsaye, discrediting the process which produced the final report.
Doyin Okpe pointed to a clause in the report which essentially serves as a disclaimer making it impossible under Nigerian law to indict or punish anyone as a result of the report recommendations.
Okupe said, “[The paragraph] is an obvious DISCLAIMER (emphasis his) issued by the committee on the entire report, makes it impossible under our laws to indict or punish anyone except, and until, the Federal Government fully verifies and reconciles the facts as recommended by the committee in its submission to the government.”
He quoted the paragraph which read: “Due to the time frame of the assignment, some of the data used could not be independently verified and the task force recommends that the government should conduct such necessary verifications and reconciliations.”
Okupe reportedly blamed Ribadu for the politicisation of the report. He alleged that there was a major public disinformation campaign which, according to him, was aimed at overheating the polity and incite Nigerians against the President because of the report.
“For instance on his Facebook page a while ago, Mallam Nuhu Ribadu remarked that he resisted overtures to make him compromise the report and rather than compromising the report, he stayed on the side of the Nigerian people.
“His claim of an overture to him to compromise the report is perfidious and false. We respectfully enjoin Mallam Nuhu Ribadu to be patriotic enough to name the proponents of this compromise.
“If Ribadu claims that to be serving on the committee he is on the side of the Nigeria people, on whose side is President Jonathan whose idea it was in the first place to set up the task force and approved the appointment of Mallam Ribadu as chairman of the committee?” he asked rhetorically.
Okupe said the committee had failed to carry out the very critical part of the assignment and instead passed on the duty of reconciliation and verification of the data to the government.
Though he described the report as incomplete, he however added that all the work needed to be done to rectify this would be done by the government. After this, he said a White Paper would be issued and its recommendations fully implemented by the government.
Mallam Nuhu Ribadu is yet to react to Okupe’s allegations.