At the Council on Foreign Affairs in Washington DC on April 4, 2007, Mallam Nuhu Ribadu threw down the gauntlet to Prof Bugaje, Jonathan Zwingina, Tom Ikimi and all those in attendance in seminar that all who have any leads or evidence of corrupt practices that took place in aid of the so-called Third Term Agenda should step forward to furnish such information to the EFCC and they would follow up on all leads.
The issue came up upon being asked regarding his perceived selective prosecution of persons in Nigeria. He reiterated that General Buhari and Sunday Owoniyi have been vociferous critics of the present government, but they have not been investigated or prosecuted because there were no leads or facts that warrant such. The afternoon session of the Seminar titled “Nigeria: On the Eve of National Elections” which took place at 1779 Massachussets Ave Washington DC started with some tense moments when a gentleman unfolded a banner that read: “Ribadu – Doing His Master’s Bidding”. He was allowed some time to display his poster, then walked out of the hall.
Ribadu in very measured cadence gave the rationale in a well thought-out outline, the duties of the EFCC in a manner that was described by the moderator as very “passionate”. Also in attendance were the Nigerian Ambassador to the United States, H.E. George Obiozor, Mr. Howard Jeter, US Ambassador to Nigeria, Mr. Abba Kyari of ANPP, Mr. Ojo Madueke, Secretary-General of PDP as well as Mr. Audu Ogbe, former Chairman of PDP.
Further on the issue of the perception of his being teleguided to go after political enemies, Ribadu ventured that majority of those investigated for offenses were of the ruling party, the PDP. He added that when he went after 419 kingpins, it was not an issue, he then went after bankers and even subsequently took on the then Senate President who was also of the ruling party. That he had even prosecuted and convicted the Police boss, the then chief law enforcement officer of Nigeria. It was only when he got to politicians seeking elective positions that he is perceived as partial. He volunteered that he and Atiku are from the same hometown and that if he were to be partial, he would not have investigated Atiku. In ringing tones, he asked if he was the person that asked the FBI to commence the investigation of Congressman Jefferson which involved Atiku; he asked if he was the one who caused the governors of Plateau and Bayelsa state to have over a million pounds cash in London? He concluded that however much he tries to be fair, his traducers would find something to accuse him in order to rubbish his record.
Reflectively, Ribadu added that in the absence of set systems that work, leadership, good leadership determines everything in the fight against corruption. All President Obasanjo needed to do is to shut down the systems and the fight against corruption would be ineffective. In giving honor to whom due, he listed that Obasanjo is the only President in the world who has pushed for the prosecution of his cabinet officers.
High points of the seminar include when Dr. Darren Kew reeled out statistics and real life scenarios of the election possibilities with a forecast of likely state by state outcomes all things considered. The hall was hushed when it was the turn of Dr. Richard Joseph, Director of African Studies, Northwestern University, who had three likely scenarios of an election that may turn out to be “bad, worse or catastrophic”. The Nigerian Ambassador to the US in a right to reply gave assurances that elections would hold in Nigeria, they would be fair and would be conclusive regardless of any doomsday scenarios because Nigerians are a resilient people.