To understand the grossness of the injustice currently being perpetrated against former EFCC Chairman Nuhu Ribadu, one has to appreciate the depth of his achievements. Ribadu’s grievances are well known and do not need repetition.
BACKGROUND OF NUHU RIBADU
Nuhu Ribadu was born on November 11, 1960 in Yola,
WAR ON CORRUPTION
Ribadu made life extremely uncomfortable for corrupt government figures and before long was making enemies with his sustained pursuit and prosecution of them. He even extended the fight to corrupt individuals outside the government and investigated his own boss – the Inspector-General of Police Tafa Balogun. Ribadu’s investigations revealed that Balogun had corruptly amassed over $150 million. The scandal led to Balogun’s arrest, conviction on six charges of corruption, dismissal from his post, and jailing in 2005. The sight of the head of the police force being led into court in handcuffs was one of the anti-corruption war’s most iconic images.
Ribadu’s also had success against
If allowed to continue, Ribadu’s campaign could have drawn a line in the sand and been a watershed for Nigerian corruption. He was hailed internationally for his brave fight against corruption and became the darling of the local and international press who feted him. His anti-corruption campaign spurred investor confidence and gave
Inspired by Ribadu the EFCC investigated and arrested state Governors including Diepreye Solomon Peter Alamieyeseigha (Bayelsa state), Joshua Dariye (Plateau state), Orji Kalu (Abia state), Ayo Fayose (Ekiti state) and Reverend Jolly Nyame (Taraba State). Despite being a Reverend, Nyame was alleged to have illegally amassed over one billion Naira, and faced over 40 charges of stealing, illegal diversion of public funds, misappropriation of public funds, inflation of contract sums, criminal breach of trust and bribery. Nyame was so overwhelmed that he offered to repay the sums he stole. Ribadu took to his job with messianic zeal, working up to 18 hours a day to the detriment of his family life. His efforts against corruption led to over $5 billion in looted Nigerian funds being returned to
However despite his successes Ribadu was accused by his detractors of prosecuting a “selective” war against corruption aimed only at former President Obasanjo’s opponents. This is a shallow argument which does not recognise that many of those prosecuted by the EFCC under Ribadu were members of Obasanjo’s PDP, and the Yoruba Inspector-General of Police (Tafa Balogun) appointed by Obasanjo can hardly be deemed an Obasanjo opponent. It also ignores the fact that it is utterly impossible for the EFCC to investigate EVERY corrupt Nigerian. If the EFCC undertook such a mammoth task, millions of the Nigerian adult population would end up in prison. Even western law enforcement and intelligence agencies with the combined efforts of the CIA, FBI, Secret Service, Mossad, Interpol, and MI5 have not been able to apprehend all culprits in their own respective campaigns against corruption, terrorism and money laundering. Yet nobody suggests that they are mounting “selective” wars against those vices.
Despite the protestations of “selective” prosecution, no one has ever alleged that any of those prosecuted by Ribadu was innocent or victim to a miscarriage of justice. So long as those prosecuted were genuinely guilty of the offences for which they were accused, does it matter whether or not they were political enemies of Obasanjo? The questions that need to be answered in respect of Ribadu are:
- Did he actually prosecute anyone that was NOT corrupt?
- Did he arrest or jail any innocent persons?
The answer to both of the above questions is “no”. So what has Ribadu done to merit the vitriol currently being directed at him by the Nigerian public? Nigerian societal values have been utterly destroyed to the point that the public pathetically cheered and defended corrupt government officials who stole from them (Ibori, Dariye, Alamieyeseigha, Kalu) and accuse the man who seeks to bring corrupt officials to justice and the return of the public’s stolen funds, of deserving mistreatment and humiliation.
A STEP TOO FAR
However the tide turned against Ribadu in 2007. When several of the Governors’ term of office expired in 2007, their immunity from prosecution also expired. Ribadu then struck. He compiled a dossier on several corrupt Governors, had them arrested and began steps to prosecute them. Those arrested included the powerful Governors of Abia and
In other countries Kalu and Ibori would be regarded as Mafia dons or gangsters. Even though he earned an official salary of less than $25,000 a year, Ibori somehow managed to amass over $35 million of assets in
When Ibori became Governor of Delta State his small time theft turned into big time looting. In oil rich but impoverished
DEMOTION: ANOTHER HUMILIATION FOR RIBADU
In August 2008, the Police Service Commission, (PSC),ordered the demotion of Ribadu and 138 other police officers promoted under the previous administration of President Obasanjo. Ribadu was demoted two ranks from Assistant Inspector General to Deputy Commissioner of Police. The fact that over 100 other officers were demoted with Ribadu shows how utterly petty and determined Ribadu’s enemies were to punish him. They were willing to damage the careers of over 100 other people simply in order to humiliate Ribadu.
CORRUPTION FIGHTS BACK
So what is Ribadu’s crime? Quite simply, he did his job too well. Ribadu was sent away from the EFCC because he stepped on powerful toes in his anti-corruption campaign, and because he is in the process of prosecuting corrupt former Governors with close links to
It is no coincidence that Ribadu was deposed the week after his EFCC agents arrested the former Delta State Governor James Ibori. For those who do not know, Ibori has a criminal record (even though Nigerian law bars convicts from holding political office) is a close associate of President Umaru Yar’Adua and financed Yar’Adua’s election campaign. He is also alleged to have embezzled millions of state funds which he used to buy among other things, an aeroplane, lavish cars and houses, and a mobile phone made of solid gold.
THE IBORI AND AONDOAKAA ANGLE
A key actor in Ribadu’s travails is the Justice Minister and Attorney-General, Michael Aondoakaa. Aondoakaa took aim at Ribadu within a short space of time after the former was appointed Attorney-General. First Aondoakaa alleged that the EFCC was subordinate to his Justice Ministry and had to seek his approval before arresting suspects. When Ribadu resisted, Aondoakaa resorted to sabotaging planned EFCC prosecutions of corrupt politicians and businessmen. Next, Aondoakaa alleged that the EFCC’s search of Globacom Chairman Mike Adenuga’s residence was improper and not in accordance with “due proces”. Then he sabotaged the London Metropolitan police’s prosecution of James Ibori by refusing to co-operate with British authorities, and by writing a letter which stalled the prosecution and got Ibori off the hook in
This kind of pathetic shenanigans is the sort of affair that used to trigger military coups in
The exit of Ribadu is the latest chapter in the attempt to protect Ibori and other powerful corrupt politicians. The man whose integrity is at stake here is not Aondoakaa or even Ribadu. Now is the time for President Yar’Adua to stand up and be counted. Now is the time for him to declare once and for all whether he is for or against the war on corruption. The honourable course of conduct is for Yar’Adua to fire Aondoakaa and order the continuance of the pursuit and investigation of corrupt public officers. However does Yar’Adua have the courage to bite the hand that fed him?
As Ribadu once said: “when you fight corruption, it fights back”.