Nigeria president under pressure to act on oil graft report

Mon Nov 5, 2012 1:41pm GMT

By Felix Onuah and Camillus Eboh

ABUJA (Reuters) - Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan is coming under increasing pressure to tackle government corruption after an oil probe released last week showing billions of dollars of lost state revenues sparked a political row.

Reuters exclusively reported details on October 24 of former anti-corruption chief Nuhu Ribadu's report on the oil sector, which showed Nigeria had lost tens of billions of dollars in cut-priced deals struck between government officials, the state-oil firm and multinational oil companies over the last decade.

It also found hundreds of millions of dollars of oil bonuses and royalties paid to government were missing.

Nigeria is one of the world's top crude oil exporters and a key supplier to the United States, China and India. It also holds the world's ninth largest gas reserves and one of its largest Liquefied Natural Gas export terminals.

The Ribadu committee report was presented to the Oil Minister Diezani Alison-Madueke, who commissioned the probe, in August but it was not made public or sent to the president. Once it had been leaked Jonathan requested it be given to him.

Alison-Madueke told Reuters the leaked independent report was a draft, it contained mistakes and the government needed to give input. Two members of Ribadu's committee were then quoted in local newspapers dismissing findings in the probe.

But when Ribadu presented the report to Jonathan on Friday the probe chairman said the report would not be changed and that the deriding committee members were "compromised" after being given top jobs at the Nigerian National Petroleum Corp (NNPC), the biggest stakeholder in the industry they were investigating.

"Even though the chairman (Ribadu) said that committee members became board member of NNPC, that does not disqualify them from being members of committee ... There is nothing wrong in any of them been appointed," Jonathan said in reaction.   Continued...

Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan gestures during an interview with Reuters at the Presidential Villa in Abuja January 26, 2012. REUTERS/Afolabi Sotunde
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