In as much as I agree with the position of the Police Service Commission (PSC) that Mallam Nuhu Ribadu’s conduct in recent times fell below expectation, the PSC was not fair in its resolution. Ribadu had since the beginning of the Yar’ Adua administration been victimised for his fight against corruption under former President Obasanjo. But even if the ex-chairman of the Economic and Financial Crime Commission (EFCC) was selective in his fight, he was made to take such actions by the then President who decided what happened and what all his appointees did on any matter. Hence, Ribadu cannot be blamed because he was carrying out the President’s directives. As we may recall, Dr. (Mrs.) Obi Ezekwesili during the televised probe of the $16 billion power project by one of the House of Representatives Committees admitted that due process was not followed in the award of the contracts because of the powers that be.
There is no doubt that Obasanjo gave Ribadu all the powers he exercised under him but the intervention of the Attorney General of the Federation (AGF), Mr. Michael Andooaka as a measure to check his (Ribadu) powers caused a lot of friction. Soon, it became obvious that the interference of the AGF was a move by the Yar’ Adua administration to muzzle the EFCC. This was evident in the role played by the Mr. Andooaka in the prosecution of former Delta State Governor, Chief James Ibori and former Governor of Abia State, Chief Orji Kalu by the EFCC under Ribadu.
With Ribadu’s subsequent removal as the EFCC boss, his demotion from Assistant Inspector-General of Police(AIG) to Deputy Commissioner of Police(DCP) by the PSC and his barring from joining his colleagues in the National Institute for Policy and Strategic Studies(NIPSS) graduation ceremony, it became crystal clear that the Nigerian government was out to punish Mallam Nuhu Ribadu for his efforts at reducing corruption but the presidency was quick to dispel such a notion when it ordered the release of Ribadu’s certificate.
As if this was not enough, the former EFCC boss was reported to have received death threats and this made him (Ribadu) seek protection with the court, in addition to filing a suit against the PSC and the Inspector-General of Police (IGP), Mr. Mike Okiro over his demotion.
It is sad to learn that Mallam Ribadu was dismissed for exercising his fundamental human rights in the face of oppression. Nigeria is a signatory to the African Charter on Human and People Rights as well as the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and Ribadu has shown some degree of courage by exercising this right. All the allegations leveled against him (Ribadu) in my own opinion is unfair besides what do you expect a man in Ribadu’s shoes to do in a situation like this? He (Ribadu) is not different from every other Nigerian who has fundamental human rights and need to exercise it when necessary.
The PSC should be blamed for failing to stop the immediate past President Olusegun Obasanjo from breaching procedures in the promotion of police officers because the PSC had already been established when the then President promoted Mallam Nuhu Ribadu to the position of AIG. One wonders why it took the departure of the former President for the PSC to redress the anomaly.
Unlike his colleagues who accepted their fate after the demotion, Ribadu decided to drag the PSC and the IGP to court over his demotion because it had a political undertone. The PSC and the IGP’s claims that they were acting in line with the Acts establishing them is unfounded besides the constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria is superior to any Act. But both the IGP and the PSC have abused the constitution by hastily delivering a judgment in a case that is pending before the court. This shows that the Yar’ Adua administration is paying a lip service to the rule of law. The PSC is directly under the executive arm of government and its approval on tuesday 23 December 2008 was endorsed by the president.
A man who has a track record and has made some mark in the fight against corruption both in the past and in recent times should not be hounded and dismissed for fighting against this cankerworm. The implication of Ribadu’s dismissal is that the international community which has applauded Nigeria through former EFCC chairman’s effort at reducing corruption will now see the Yar’ Adua administration’s commitment to fighting corruption as an empty rhetoric.