In the course of life, there are certain things you don’t want to remember. Really, truly, certain era are best forgotten. Some names and people you don’t want to remember. So I think it is the height of insensitivity for Mrs Farida Waziri to inflict herself on our consciousness and on our memory again.
I am sorry to do this, but do people remember Michael Aondoakaa? He was the worst Attorney General in the history of Attorneys General. Yes; but we would prefer not to remember him. Sitting on that same dishonourable table are the likes of Tafa, Ibori, Odili, Taminu Yakubu, Okiro, Abba Ruma, Ehindero and Iwu; names we’d just as soon consign to the ugly side of nightmarish history.
From that phantom rose Mrs Waziri last week to remind us of the wilderness days. Obasanjo had given an innocuous interview where he correctly described and correctly situated Mrs Waziri’s Economic and Financial Crime Commission (EFCC) days. If anything, OBJ was quite charitable and generous in his assessment. But Mrs Waziri took exception to it. She wants to run away from her history. And in the typical Nigerian police-Jagudah fashion, she threatened that Obasanjo better watch it or she would be forced to “open up on him.”
Only blackmailers talk that way. Only dye-in-the-wool corrupt people speak like that. And she admitted that much when she further harrumphed, “Those in glass houses should not throw stones.”
But Mrs Waziri cannot run way from her past. Most of what she had to say was a collection of claptrap and outright lies.
For instance, she claimed that Ibori fled Nigeria as her EFCC came hot on his heels. Absolute tosh! Ibori was living large and in charge throughout most of Farida’s headship of the EFCC. In fact, Mrs. Waziri once claimed that Ibori’s file had gone walk-abouts. Similarly, she went on to claim that she could not prosecute 31 other thieving former governors because their case files were either “distorted or missing.”
Ibori only fled Nigeria when Jonathan became acting President in 2010 and it was made very clear to Ibori that his days of Presidential protection were over.
Everybody knew that those who head-hunted Mrs Waziri for the EFCC job were Bukola Saraki, George Akume, James Ibori, Andy Uba and Aondoakaa. I don’t know what purpose is served by trying to deny that fact.
The first thing Mrs Waziri did in office was to give the go ahead to Henry Imasekha, one of Ibori’s money laundering collaborators, to return to Nigeria. Imasekha had fled to Ghana as (Ribadu’s) EFCC officials closed in on him in late 2007.
Her second act was granting former Governors Lucky Igbinedion and Orji Uzor Kalu – both under indictment by the EFCC – their passports to embark on so-called medical trips abroad.
Her third act was the release of Ibori’s passport.
Shortly after taking over from Ribadu, Yar’Adua asked Mrs Waziri to probe the activities of El-Rufai at the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) and to make recommendations to him. In the process of probing El-Rufai, Mrs Waziri stumbled upon the very dirty deals of Aliyu Modibbo who was then the FCT Minister. What did Farida do? She entered into negotiations with Modibbo. The product of that negotiation was a parcel of land given to her in Abuja.
In order to erase any link between her and that land, Mrs Waziri caused the Certificate of Occupancy issued her to be revoked. Then she had another certificate issued in her daughter’s name.
This is the same woman who is now threatening to open up on others. Even Gani Fawehinmi had to write to the Senate President in May 2008 pleading that Farida not be confirmed as Chair because, according to him, the lady “lacks both moral and constitutional authority” to lead the EFCC.
When she got to the EFCC, Mrs Waziri promptly removed and shunted aside most of the more dynamic operatives of the agency. Among others, she redeployed Bello Yahaya, a Superintendent of Police, back to Police HQ in Abuja. Bello was the EFCC officer who investigated Ibori. Bello trained with London Metropolitan Police, and was the designated officer handling cases on behalf of the Met in Nigeria. Mrs Waziri quickly brought in conc. police officers mostly from her immediate tribe and hometown and turned the EFCC into another Nigerian Police station. Suspects and accused were routinely hauled-in and asked to settle their cases with oga. Shake-down became the order of the day; a practice Mrs Waziri had perfected back in the 1990s as head of the Police Special Fraud Unit in Lagos when she was doing business with the likes of Ikedi Ohakim and his other 419 friends.
It was also under Mrs Waziri’s watch that the EFCC began the practice of the withdrawal of large sums of money which simply went unaccounted for. Those monies were known as ‘Informational Funds.’ In just one month in 2008, N75million was withdrawn from the EFCC accounts.
And within a few months, Mr Waziri had become a serious investor in gold and other fine expensive jewellery.
As the EFCC became a shake-down centre, there were cases that were stage managed for show. For instance, there was the plea-bargained case of one of Nigeria’s most idle and most corrupt former governors, Lucky Igbinedion. Luck was charge with 191 counts of corruption and money laundering to the tune of N2.9billion. There was another N25b fraud pending against him. But Lucky was discharged with a N3.5 million fine. The whole thing was so laughable that Mr Igbinedion paid off the fine out of pocket right there at the venue of the trial and promptly went home. Later, Mrs. Waziri merely complained that she “didn’t intend for the case to end like that.”
Waziri’s personal corruption and incompetence knew no boundaries. Wikileaks cables reveal that EFCC’s foreign partners kept Mrs. Waziri at arm’s length and subjected her to a heap load of humiliation and rejection. In August 2009, right in Abuja, Hillary Clinton described the EFCC as having “fallen off in the last two years.” She said Mrs Waziri had created credibility problems for the commission with donor countries. For instance, the Met Police was forced to announce a severance of ties with the EFCC over the agency’s handling of Ibori’s case. Similarly, other crime fighting partners like the FBI and the UK Serious Fraud Office also gave Farida and her agency a wide berth.
How bad were things under Mrs Waziri? Once, the former American Ambassador to Nigeria, Robin Sanders, threatened to walk out of a meeting with Nigeria’s Foreign Affairs Minister if Mrs. Waziri was allowed to participate in the meeting. Mrs Waziri was quickly frog-marched out of the room. Then, the USA seriously contemplated revoking Mrs Waziri’s US visa the way Aondoakaa’s was.
Ribadu as chair of the EFCC had moved Nigeria along the Corruption Index from number two most corrupt in the world to number forty eight. Mrs Waziri came in and undid all of that. Even the folks back in her husband’s home State of Gombe were compelled to write to the President to call Farida to order as it was proving too difficult for them to abide with her demands, bribery and intimidation simply because her husband wants to be returned as senator.
It was under Mrs Waziri’s watch ‘fighting corruption’ that Obama gave Nigeria a wide berth and visited Ghana instead.
As Jonathan moved-in to fire her from the EFCC gig, Mrs Waziri resorted to what comes naturally. She began doling out car gifts to some people in the Presidency to help save her job.
Whilst Ribadu protected Obasanjo’s friends, Mrs Waziri certainly shielded Yar’Adua’s acolytes and other crooked associates. She definitely used the EFCC to corruptly enrich herself.
Regarding Farida, OBJ stated th
e obvious. And a few days ago, Jonathan confirmed that he sacked her as Chair of the EFCC because she didn’t enjoy the confidence of Nigerians. Jonathan added that, “There were lots of complaints. Some may be right, some may be wrong, but perception matters so much when handling matters like corruption.” If people will recall, back in late 2010 during a trip to the US, Mrs Waziri told her American inquisitors that “the President’s body language” was to blame for her poor showing at the EFCC.
Now Mrs Waziri is resurrected and is lachrymosely disturbing everyone’s peace. She is fuming and flaunting credentials which include thirty five years in the Nigerian Police Force. If truth be said, at this moment in time, being a member of the Nigerian Police for thirty five years is not an achievement anyone should show off. Please let Farida leave us alone.