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The Bitter War Between Oronsaye & Ribadu: Why They Are At Each Other’s Throats


The submission of the Petroleum Revenue Task Force Report made it obvious that the Chairman of the Task Force, Mallam Nuhu Ribadu and his Vice Chairman, Steve Oronsaye were not in the best of terms.  After the report had been handed over to the President, Steve Oronsaye raised issues that due process was not followed in the compilation of the report. He went as far as saying he didn’t know what was contained in the report. The President however urged anyone that had issues with the report to send such to him through the office of the Chief of Staff or the Minister of Petroleum Resources.

Though Ribadu in his comments after the ugly occurrence pointed out that some members might have been planted in the committee to work against its objectives, findings revealed that the rivalry between him and Orosanye dates back to about ten years ago. Back in 2001, the Obasanjo administration set up a Presidential Committee on Financial Action Task Force which  was necessitated by the decision of the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) to sanction Nigeria for her non-compliance with its international anti-money laundering policies. The committee was headed by Mr Steve Oronsaye and it was saddled with the responsibility of liasing with the FATF to ensure that Nigeria was not blacklisted then.

Since the FATF had more then 180 countries complying with its policies, including those against money laundering and the finance of terrorism, one of the implications of not complying with its policies is that countries that are financial systems of non-compliant countries would suffer.

It was also included in the sanctions that correspondent banks worldwide would cut off credit facilities to blacklisted countries.

While the Oronsaye committee was at work, the Government’s desperation to escape being blacklisted by the FATF continued to grow. It was gathered that in a bid to demonstrate a level of compliance, the Obasanjo led Government chose to set up a body that would combat money laundering and financial crimes. The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) was thus formed in 2003 with Nuhu Ribadu, an Assistant Commissioner of Police as its Chairman.

Findings revealed that trouble started between the two men when Oronsaye refused to back down for Ribadu and his newly formed EFCC to continue the work with the FATF.

As part of his efforts to get Nigeria off the list of countries to be blacklisted, Mallam Nuhu Ribadu set up the Financial Intelligence Unit. (FIU) Back then however, Oronsaye reportedly made moves to ensure that the FIU was removed from the EFCC in order to make it independent, a move that was vehemently resisted by Ribadu.

Sadly, their ten-year-old rift reared its head again when they were both nominated to work as heads of the Petroleum Revenue Task Force earlier in the year. It was a surprise to those who were aware of their cold war that they agreed to work with each other in the first place. It however became obvious that the war was far from being over when the report was to be submitted. While Oronsaye fired the first salvo by saying the report was the product of a flawed process, Ribadu made it known that “Steve (Oronsaye) never participated in any of the committee’s work. In Ribadu’s opinion, Steve Oronsaye and Oti, who became member of the Board and Director respectively in NNPC while the committee was still at work should have resigned, “but they didn’t. They opted to remain as members of the committee” he said.


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