Ribadu's EFCC and the 'Indicted' Quartet

by SOC Okenwa

Executive corruption and economic crime in Nigeria is partially on public trial. Partially because the big fishes are yet to be made to face the music. Leading the discredited list of shame are ‘sharks’ and ‘whales’ in the ocean of corruption like Ibrahim Babangida, Olusegun Obasanjo and Mohammed Abacha (whose late father’s ‘mortal sins’ must be visited on him) and a couple of others. Unless and until these men swimming in billions of stolen state funds (with which they live opulently) are arraigned and tried then Mallam Nuhu Ribadu and the Commission he garrulously leads will continue to generate more discredibility and controversy.

Last week Ribadu and his men swung into action (after summoning and recovering some billions from the thieving clan of ex-governors) ‘waylaying’ former Abia State Governor Orji Uzor Kalu as he breezed in from the US arresting him and his three other colleagues: Jigawa’s Alhaji Saminu Turaki, Plateau’s Joshua Dariye and Enugu’s Chimaroke Nnamani. The ‘indicted’ quartet have been charged to court in Abuja and remanded in EFCC’s custody and Kuje Prison. Ordinarily this ought to elicit some excitement being a good news in our desire to stamp out multi-facted corruption in our body polity. But it rather calls for more introspection albeit in a broader perspective.

The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission is one of the best legacies of the Obasanjo administration. Others are NAFDAC, re-capitalisation of banks and surplus foreign reserves. While it is conceded that Mallam Ribadu, Profs Akinyuli and Soludo are doing well in their offices Obasanjo may not take the credit for their individual patriotic efforts. It is arguably in the characters of these young leaders to excel contrary to the awful character of the megalomaniac that appointed them.

The EFCC, though admittedly a sound idea whose time has come, presents a blurred picture of a facade of a notorious cerebral entrenched criminal to pursue and overcome vindictively fellow gangsters. EFCC is still seen in some quarters as Obasanjo’s vindictive terror machinery. Kalu, Nnamani, Turaki and Dariye may have inflicted fatal fiscal blows to their state treasuries during their reign defrauding their people of their resources put in their care but the point is that Ribadu and his men should go the whole hog by arresting and arraigning others more corrupt than those quartet.

Before the advent of the present politically-fraudulent dispensation Mallam Ribadu had investigated, ‘tried’ and ‘convicted’ (without the aid of any court or judge) all the former governors (except 2 or 3) for embezzling public funds. He made his conclusion public only for Obasanjo to water down his radical take on that score seeking to pacify or molify erring ‘indicted’ PDP state helsmen — most of whom had stolen to bankroll the infamous tenure elongation elaborate scheme of his.

Now out of the supposed 34 ex-govs found wanting one wonders why only four are being docked and prosecuted. Where are others? The most corrupt ex-governors are yet to be touched ladies and gentlemen. And they include Edo‘s Lucky Igbinedion, Rivers’ Peter Odili, Delta’s James Ibori and Akwa Ibom’s Victor Attah. While Celestine Omehia has had cause to ‘praise’ Odili for leaving billions in the state treasury for him to work with Governor Akpabio had announced meeting empty treasury upon assumption of duty.

If it’s true that Odili (whom Ribadu told the world his Commission stopped from becoming President on account of sleeze) had contributed billions to the PDP Yar’Adua campaign funds then it stands to reason that he must have ‘bribed’ his way out of trouble. And that is corruption in itself! Omehia is an Odili stooge so he dare not ‘expose’ the godfather.

Shortly after May 29 handover of power in many state capitals some of the newly sworn-in governors were heard screaming ’empty treasuries, empty treasuries’ after discovering to their chagrin that the out-gone predecessors had systematically cleaned the treasuries before departure. Days and weeks later nothing more is being heard. Perhaps Tony Anenih has ‘fixed’ the treasuries!

The docked Jigawa former chief executive for example (a serving Senator of the Republic) who reportedly shed tears in court for his ordeal had alleged that part of the money he was being accused of siphoning was actually used to sponsor Obasanjo’s ill-fated third term plot.
Alhaji Saminu Turaki claimed he contributed a whooping 10 billion naira to the TTA purse indicating that Andy Uba was a witness when he handed over the people’s money. Now can someone tell Ribadu to investigate this disturbing claim and possibly summon Andy Uba to testify as a named witness?

Sometime in the recent past the wife of the former Bayelsa State Governor (now Vice President) Jonathan Goodluck was ‘caught’ in the web of high-wire graft; a lady front was nabbed as she was set to travel out with hefty laundered funds (in millions of dollars). And upon interrogation the lady confessed that Goodluck’s ‘goodlucky’ wife owned the foreign currency. Usual noises were made in higher quarters and now that Jonathan has become the second citizen with his wife enjoying ‘immunity’ the case is as good as closed.

If Lamidi Adedibu and Adebayo Alao-Akala can still be calling the shots in Ibadan and Oyo state in general using motor park thugs and hoodlums to intimidate and terrorise hapless workers and dissenters (after Ribadu himself proclaimed them guilty of moral and economic corruption) then the hypocrisy of the war on corruption is laid bare.

Stamping corruption out of the Nigerian political landscape can only be possible if EFCC is made to be independent and not answerable to a ‘god’ in Ota. Ota must not substitute Abuja as the nation’s seat of power. Power resides constitutionally in Aso Rock Villa and not in Temperance Farm. Farmers there should concentrate on farming to feed millions of hungry Nigerians.

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