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I have tried so much to stay out of the stalemate between the former vice president, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar... (4) Comment

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"Good Riddance to Ribadu Rubbish" by Simon Kolawole
Author: Anonymous | January 02, 2008

I first heard the rumour of the imminent exit of Mallam Nuhu Ribadu as the Chairman of EFCC, via “study leave”, last Sunday. I thought it was the regular rumour we’ve been used to since President Umaru Musa Yar’Adua assumed power on May 29, 2007. I was told the police hierarchy had been instructed to direct Ribadu to proceed to The National Institute in Kuru for a nine-month course. As the rumour began to gather strength, I decided to dig for more information. Most of the responses I got were based on assumptions and analyses. “The Inspector General has no power to order Ribadu to proceed on study leave,” one source told me. “Ribadu was appointed Chairman of the EFCC by the Presidency. He has a letter to that effect. He reports directly to the President, not to the Inspector General. EFCC is not a department of Police. Ribadu does not draw salaries from the police. Any posting by the IG is null and void.” One source drew an analogy with military postings. “Look at the case of ECOMOG. The appointment of an ECOMOG Commander may be based on the recommendation of the Chief of Army Staff or Chief of Defence Staff, but the posting is by the President. The Chief of Army Staff cannot wake up one day and say the ECOMOG Commander should proceed on study leave.” My take on this, therefore, is that it is Yar’Adua who should have made the “Kuru Declaration”, not Sir Mike Okiro, the Inspector General of Police. Okiro has however set a record: this is the first time in the history of Nigeria that a press conference would be called to announce that someone was going for a course in Kuru. So much for “routine posting”! If Ribadu proceeds on the course, that would hopefully bring the whole saga – what I call the “Ribadu Rubbish” – to a close. Ever since Yar’Adua came to office, the incapacitation or removal of Ribadu has been on the agenda. Although Yar’Adua frequently talks about his seven-point agenda, in truth it was an eight-point agenda, with the “Ribadu Rubbish” written in invisible ink. At least, Yar’Adua has achieved something in office. Apart from reversing Obasanjo’s policies without having any idea of his own, Yar’Adua can also celebrate the ouster of Ribadu. Many governors were very incensed when Obasanjo re-appointed him for another four-year term early this year. They had hoped Ribadu would go with Obasanjo and the new head of the anti-graft agency would be appointed by Yar’Adua, in which case they would have a say in the decision. Two of the governors – one is still serving and the other is now an ex – were major backers of Yar’Adua’s candidacy. A failed bank in which one of the governors had a substantial case to answer has been under probe by EFCC, while a massive, universal case of money laundering is hanging over the other. To keep the “Ribadu Rubbish” in EFCC was not in their interest. They just had to move against him. One of the early acts of Yar’Adua was to shop for a replacement for Ribadu, irrespective of the fact that he had a four-year tenure. Like under military regimes, tenured positions can always be cut short without any explanations. It appeared the government had settled for a director of the State Security Service (SSS), Mr Afakriya Gadzama, to take over from Ribadu. In fact, I learnt then that Gadzama had been interviewed for the job and the announcement was to be made sometime in June. However, the dossier on Gadzama was very discouraging: he was said to have a mind of his own, one who could not be tele-guided. It was like having another Ribadu in charge. This must have discouraged Yar’Adua’s “two godfathers”. Gadzama was instead made the Director-General of SSS. But the game continued. Yar’Adua had been given the impression that expressly removing Ribadu would hurt the image of his government locally and internationally. It was already public knowledge that some of the people who helped Yar’Adua to power had cases with the EFCC. Removing Ribadu would create the impression that Yar’Adua wanted to protect his sponsors. The next move, therefore, was to keep Ribadu in charge but remove the rug from under his feet. Enter Chief Michael Aondoakaa, the Attorney General of the Federation (AGF) and the Minister of Justice. He and the IG are said to be nominees of one of the “two godfathers”. Aondoakaa was given the assignment of dismantling EFCC through a campaign of “due process”. Most Nigerians, including myself, have heavily criticised EFCC in the past for failing to abide by the rule of law and due process. So by mouthing “due process” – even though with a different motive and a curious interpretation – Aondoakaa would implement the “Ribadu Rubbish” agenda to public applause. In conjunction with the “two godfathers” and a Lagos-based lawyer who is heavily into construction business, Aondoakaa wrote a stage-managed memo to Yar’Adua, saying that EFCC was not following due process in the anti-graft war. He sought to take over the prosecutorial powers of the agency as empowered by the constitution. The public outcry led to the reversal of this decision by the government. In theory, Aondoakaa was right: all prosecutorial powers belong to the AGF. However, his focus on EFCC gave away the game. When a DPO, NAFDAC, NDLEA, EFCC, ICPC, Customs and Immigrations, etc, take any accused persons to court, they do so on behalf of the AGF. The charges always read: AGF vs Lagbaja. Why Aondoakaa chose to focus only on EFCC was very clear: the rogue politicians were at work through him. The failure of this move did not deter the godfathers and their associates from proceeding with their game plan. The next thing was an open confrontation between the AGF and EFCC, such that the AGF was writing ridiculous letters to British authorities – simply to truncate a case of money laundering, but hiding under the “due process” mantra, which, on the surface, was good music to the ears. But, of course, those who cannot be easily deceived knew that it was just a gimmick. Other strategies seemed to be weak or failed altogether – like trying to persuade the United Nations to give Ribadu a job and also the “merger and acquisition” option being canvassed for anti-graft agencies by Aondoakaa. Everything had been aimed at getting rid of Ribadu, who is seen as an unnecessarily hard man by the godfathers. Whereas the argument of lawyers like Festus Keyamo and Wole Olanipekun is that the anti-graft war shouldn’t be personalised and limited to Ribadu alone because there are other Nigerians who can wage the war effectively, the real problem is not the removal of Ribadu. I have not heard a single person say Ribadu is the only Nigerian who can fight the war. (And I stand to be corrected.) But the timing of Ribadu’s sack, and the tricks that have been played by this government since May, suggest that there is more to it than we are being told. Anybody who wants to be sincere with himself will agree that the Kuru option is no routine police posting. It is also unfortunate that some lawyers, because of the monumental fortune they are making from corrupt politicians, are no longer interested in the common good. It is just their stomachs now. It is a shame. In an oppressed society like Nigeria, it is writers, lawyers and journalists who are usually the conscience of the community. Not any more, thanks to multi-million naira briefs. That is what happens in a society where those who should lead the way have turned their bellies to their gods. The whole saga of “Ribadu Rubbish” is a complete reflection of Yar’Adua’s personality. That is, pretending to be aloof while pulling strings from behind the scene. And when the act goes wrong, he quickly comes out to reverse himself, painting the picture that it was not his decision in the first place. I have often told people who condemn Aondoakaa to stop doing so: the man is just a messenger. If Yar’Adua disagreed with Aondoakaa’s methods and tactics, he would have called him to order or even sacked him since. It is a game – and Yar’Adua is part and parcel of it. He is not as naïve as not to know what to do. He was a lecturer of Analytical Chemistry – he is no “dundee”. Yar’Adua can hire and fire if he likes. He is an Executive President, for God’s sake. What I don’t like about his style is the hypocrisy. If he wanted to remove Ribadu, he should have gone ahead to do it and damned the consequence! After all, nothing will happen. Heaven will not fall. We will shout and scream and keep quiet in a few weeks. It’s the president’s guile that I can’t stand – no, it’s not befitting of an educated person like Yar’Adua. Alternatively, he could have called Ribadu aside and said: “Mallam, you can touch everybody but spare Jacob in this matter. If you push him too much, he will say I’m a beneficiary of his loot. And you know I’m still on shaky ground as a result of the election that brought me to power. Leave Jacob alone, kaji ko?” I am relieved that Ribadu is finally out of the way. At least, we can now face other issues. But I know quite well that it is not only Ribadu that will suffer the consequences of this action by Yar’Adua. We all are victims. All of us – not a single exception. Yar’Adua’s government already has credibility problems to grapple with. Now he has added this to his portfolio. The corrupt politicians are happy with the sack – they love it. Now they too can heave a sigh of relief. They are actually celebrating it! In fact, I received a couple of "God-don-catch-Ribadu" calls from their associates. But, really, it is Nigeria that “God don catch”. One step forward, two backward all the time. May I suggest to Yar’Adua that he should appoint Alhaji Tafa Balogun, the former IGP, to replace Ribadu as EFCC chairman? I know people will raise eyebrows because of Tafa’s past – but Ribadu himself is not a saint. I think Tafa, a renowned crime burster, will do a better job at EFCC. After all, the governors, the godfathers and their associates love Tafa to pieces. Long live the Federal Republic of Yar’Adua! Written by Simon Kolawole

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Osondu Onoh    Maryland,20910, USA    January 03, 2008
There is no constitutional provision for the EFCC......all the contrary. EFCC act is just legislation from the house empowering the agency to work legally under the supervision of the AGF's office; it cannot be elevated to the hierarchy of the constitution of Nigeria, the supreme norm of the nation.

Yes, there is a constitutional provision for the office of the AGF. And, what do we do? Insult the constitution and the ministry of justice because it does not act like hooligans....funny?

The enormous outcry against Ribadu preceded the appointment of Aondoakaa. It began with the instrumentalisation of EFCC as an oppressive machine against the opposition to the past government agenda.

It was used as a prostitutorial tool to intimidate, harass and suppress those against the government. Such acts are not so easily forgotten. We have not forgotten the spearheaded unlawful impeachment and removal of Ladoja, Haruna, Obi etc by Ribadu’s EFCC. We have not forgotten the abduction of ex-gov. Ngige while Ribadu looked the other side.

We have not forgotten the attempt to intimidate Senator Uche Chukwumerijes led opposition group against ex-President Obasanjo’s third term bid and constitutional reforms. We have not forgotten and perhaps will continue to sustain the record for history to judge all of us.

Folks, It was like a “gestapo” style of government…..God forbid it.

If the only sin of the AGF is the so called disobedience of court injunction on Nicon, we welcome that lesser evil.

For me, Ribadu should just accept an honourable exit from the government and perhaps, be remembered for his failed efforts to introduce changes in the system while he could.

At least he tried, but he failed "Estrepitosamente".
OMOTAYO, J. A.    Lagos, NIGERIA    January 03, 2008
Hello Mr. Osondu, good day. I am still very fascinated by your contributions. The argument that Mr. Ribadu's tenure was four years does not come into play here. Who appointed him for the first four years? Who re-appointed him for the second term of four years? Just Mr. Obasanjo, perhaps with the intention that Mr. Ribadu will always be there to protect him. Nigerians have not asked themselves why a "sincere" government like that of Mr. Obasanjo did not just extend Mr. Ribadu's tenure by just six months so that it can lap into the new administration of Mr. Yar'Adua. Consequently, it would be up to Mr. Yar'Adua to re-appoint or replace him.

The era of sit-tight administrator should be over by now. Let him go so that any skeleton in the cupboard of those already shielded can be exposed. Let the cleansing go on! Since Mr. Ribadu claimed that he had investigated Mr. Obasanjo and found him a saint, despite all that common sense tell us apart from the numerous allegations on ground, I have come to believe that the former is only acting to protect the latter. Nothing more.

God bless Nigeria
OMOTAYO, J. A.    Lagos, NIGERIA    January 02, 2008
Thanks Mr. Osondu Onoh. Mr. Kolawole's perceptions are very skewed and I am glad that you have pointed out the issues of Obasanjo, Bode George, etc. I do not intend to repeat those issues here.

I have pointed out in most of my articles and comments that Mr. Ribadu needs to improve on his performance. There is no doubt that he has tried his best as a patriot. But his best does not place him at a close level to the head of the FBI. The ways and manners through which the FBI carries out investigations and prosecutions make one to appreciate how good such a job should be done; due process and rule of law.

Mr Kolawole admited that the Mr. Yar'Adua was an Analytical Chemistry lecturer. There is no doubt, therefore, that he would have analysed the capabilities of Mr. Ribadu and knew what corrections to make. If a lecturer of Analytical Chemistry does not understand how to analysis an officer's capability, directly or indirectly through an extension of discipline, then he is not fit to become a president of 140 million people.

Mr. Yar'Adua may have credibility problem with his elections. I agree very well. we must differentiate the electoral issues from performance of organisations like the EFCC. If the presidency has found a better subsitute for Mr. Ribadu at the EFCC, that is good for the country. I welcome such a substitution the way a calcium (Ca) will replace sodium (Na) in a chemical reaction. If otherwise, there are many Nigerians who will be prepared to criticise the presidency.

Finally, I like to add that change is the most difficult thing that people would ever want. But change is inevitable. It can come through natural forces death, accident, plague, fire, etc. It can also come through man-made processes and actions. The current change in the leadership of the EFCC will allow us to know how good or otherwise Mr. Ribadu has performed his duties. I urge NIgerians to welcome this change in good faith.

God bless Nigeria.
Osondu Onoh    Maryland,20910, USA    January 02, 2008
Eni, my brother: Compliments of the best season. I would like to comment on your backchat by reminding you that the only institution that is being treated despicably here is the government of the federal republic of Nigeria. As far as I know, AIG Ribadu does not represent any institution; instead, he is the head of an agency that was created by the executive power (the institution) to assist the justice ministry in the fight against corruption.

Rule of law here is that Ribadu's boss has the power to relieve him of his duty without giving explanation to anyone but Ribadu himself. Ribadu has the right to take his grievances to the court and challenge his removal if he thinks he has a case of unlawful removal.

When Obasanjo decided to terminate the services of Dr Okonjo Iweala, nobody called for his impeachement. We all were surprised by his decision to move Dr Iweela to the foreign affairs ministry and subsequently removed him from the economic reform committee, nobody did anything. Did Obasanjo even give any explanation to us? Not even Mrs Oyo and Femi fan kayode was able to give any good reason for Dr Iweela’s abrupt exit from the government.

In the case of Ribadu, the rule of law and due process has not been breached, hence the announcement and debate about the removal of Ribadu. We are witnessing or assisting a government that is determined to introduce constructive dialogue and respect for critics in the execution of its duties. The first time ever in the history of Nigerian democracy a President will be questioned for removing one of his officials. That is democracy, which is a healthy democracy.

I think the bottom line about this matter is that those who feel protected and shielded by Ribadu are becoming nervous because they may loose their impunity to the crimes they may have committed. Isn’t good to see Obasanjo and the others paraded before the judges for crimes they may have committed?

Ribadu can always resign from his job and contest for the coming election. Perhaps, with his popularity, he can equal or beat Gani’s record in the polling stations……
Henry    Dallas, USA/NIGERIA    January 02, 2008
People, the idea here, is not about a person, or change as some people would call it, but the integrity of the whole process.
Ribadu is not indespensable, nor is he God. But, his tenure was gauranteed under the constitution for 4 years, unless, as otherwise stated by the EFCC act 2(3) and 3(1) of 2003. If the president is removing him, then, he needs to make a press statement that he is doing so and not through the police because, obviously, he does not answer to the police chief.

The whole thing started like a rumour, and I don't think that we will appreciate a government that runs on rumours.

Some people are saying " What is the timing got to do with it?" And, I said, it has everything to do with it. The reason is because,There has been open challenges from the EFCC boss to the AGF in relation to some of these high profile cases just recently. It has been a daily embarrasement to the AGF who is incapable of understanding the laws he claim to be championing. The truth, is that this action translates to millions of Nigerians as a vendeatta to edge-off the EFCC boss due to his percieved insurbodination by the AGF.

At least, now, we know that he is questioning the legality of Ribadu's re-appointment and consequently, the legality of the cases the agency has brought against several suspects since his re-appointment; this clearly shows the AGF's dislikeness of the man, Ribadu.

Public opinion is very negative on this singular move, and human rights, and other organizations has advocated for this injustice. I have called the attention of several people to the court injuction that the AGF disobeyed in the internal case of NICON INSURANCE ( read BusinessDay Nov. 19, 2007) just to show some of the ardent beleivers that the AGF does not even practice the rule of law he so much preaches.

If the rule of law is to be followed, then, Ribadu has to be removed following the constitutional act provided in the EFCC act 2(3) and 3(1) of 2003. I'm still puzzled how Micheal Aoondokaa came to be the AGF, following all his recent utterances in the public
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