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!
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eni Chicago, USA January 01, 2008
Osondu, the point is about all the lies that we have been told. Nobody is objecting to the act itself even though it might not have been a popular one. Don't you agree that it would have been a different reaction, if the president had commenced a press conference, to tell the Nigerian citizens the reasons for his redeployment of the Efcc chairman?
That would have been a more effective self advertisement for the much talked about "rule of law " in these administration. For your information the uproar is not about the man called Ribadu but about the institution which he seems to represent. The perception that it could be done without such an uproar from the public is in itself unreasonable.
And I submit to you sir, that until this president practices what he preaches by telling the Nigerian people the whole truth, nothing , but the truth about Ribadu's removal from the Efcc,the controversy will continue.
Osondu Onoh Maryland,20910, USA January 01, 2008
Crap; Craps; and more big Crap! Your comments lack merits and giving that you are so much informed, I doubt you are being honest to yourself.
From what I understand, your grief is just that the "timing" (for his removal) was not correct and perhaps, there has been conspiracy to remove Ribadu ab initio.
Is that enough motive to create so much uproar and clamour for the destitution of the President himself? If it was Obasanjo, do you think there will be even a debate about his decisions?
Who is more corrupt, the governors (whom the EFCC and Ribadu is so obsessed with) or the ex-President? The same way you claimed that the AGF is shielding some governors from prosecution; one can easily allege or argue that Ribadu and the EFCC are shielding Obasanjo, Bode George, Anenih, Andy Uba, Adedibu (Voting machines case), Odili and other Obasanjo's boys like Dangote from prosecution.
What do you say about it? We cannot continue to make incendiary comments capable of inciting violence or weakening the administration. It is irresponsible to base your arguments on speculations.
Who are the governors who funded Yaradua's election with more funds and active support than ex-President Olusegun Obasanjo who personally selected Yaradua for the job?
Who is the governor that is more powerful than Obasanjo (who remains untouchable)? I think we have live in a lawless society for so many decades since independence so, we only know the violence, lawlessness, force and barbarism.
Perhaps, we should be innovative and welcoming to new ideas. It cannot continue to be business as usual, we have to allow and embrace some policies that are inclined to conspicuous changes in the society.
Due process and respect for the rule of law are those changes that we need to impact our society against lawlessness. There is no "but" about it.......it is either rule of law or lawlessness.
President Yaradua is the democratically elected head of state of the Nigerian federation; he has the power to remove anyone working under his administration from the office. Ribadu is working for President Yaradua and he is no body to challenge or rebel against the decision of the Yaradua's government.
Perhaps, you should have advised Ribadu to tread carefully and respectfully to the institutions and the government of Nigeria. He is not God and he is not “every Nigeria”.