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Nuhu Ribadu: Inside story of his removal

Posted by By MOHAMMED UMAR, Abuja on 2007/12/29 | Views: 1201 |

Nuhu Ribadu: Inside story of his removal

The ding-dong battle for the removal of Mr. Nuhu Ribadu as Chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) finally came to a head during the week as the Inspector-General of Police (IGP), Mr. Mike Okiro, directed the EFCC boss to proceed to the elite National Institute of Policy and Strategic Studies (NIPPS) for a one- year course, which could sound a death knell for his high profile job.

The ding-dong battle for the removal of Mr. Nuhu Ribadu as Chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) finally came to a head during the week as the Inspector-General of Police (IGP), Mr. Mike Okiro, directed the EFCC boss to proceed to the elite National Institute of Policy and Strategic Studies (NIPPS) for a one- year course, which could sound a death knell for his high profile job.

However, to many close watchers, the 'fall' of Ribadu was not unexpected, considering that his job has for a long been on the line for a number of reasons, ranging from the Assistant Inspector-General of Police’s disposition to the discharge of his duty, to the manner he is largely seen to have personalised the anti-graft war. A man in love with the limelight, Ribadu didn't know how to separate his master's battles from the EFCC's. All was fair in war as far as the Adamawa-born officer was concerned. It proved to be a disastrous strategy.

His famed tactlessness also did not help matters as he plunged into every fray, not picking his battles, and in the process bruised many heels. For instance, the EFCC boss was said to have severally stepped on the toes of some very senior police officers who ordinarily are his superiors in the Force, including the current IGP. As a result, he is generally seen as 'an arrogant brat who has no respect for the office of the IGP.'

Prior to his appointment as acting IGP, sources close to Louis Edet House said Okiro had gone to the EFCC headquarters to see the crime buster over some issues. Ribadu was said to have kept Okiro waiting for more than one hour, only to leave the office through the back door. Nevertheless, the befuddled Okiro was said to have pursued him to his house where he tabled his case before the younger police officer. A more pragmatic officer didn't need to put his superior through that needless ordeal.

The EFCC chairman was said to have further worsened his perception problem in the police when he started to investigate the activities of some men in the top hierarchy of the Force. He was said to have set up surveillance around them for the purpose of unearthing evidences that could possibly disqualify them from being made IGP. He himself possibly had his eyes on the top job. The strategy was to clear the way for himself. Many saw through his schemes and lay in wait for him.

The Kuru plot
According to sources, Okiro had borne his humiliation and pains patiently until a couple of weeks ago when he went to President Umar Musa Yar’Adua with a request asking that some AIGs proceed to NIPSS. The IGP was said to have reminded the President that it would ultimately be in the interest of his administration, especially in the face of its avowed stance on due process for the officers to proceed on the high profile course given the height they had attained in the Police.

In the case of Ribadu, for instance, Okiro was said to have pointed out to the President that the EFCC chairman ought to have passed through the National War College even before his promotion to a police commissioner were due process to be followed. Furthermore, he said, after his promotion as commissioner of police, he [EFCC chairman] needed to have gone to Kuru before being made an AIG.
Okiro was said to have impressed it on the President that if the action was not taken, it could destabilize the entire police system and perpetuate the arbitrariness inflicted on the Force by Obasanjo. The President was said to have been convinced and gave his approval for the request.

Stormy meeting
However, when the IGP called Ribadu to inform him of the development, the EFCC chairman was said to have fumed in anger and stormed out of the meeting, unaware that the President had already given a nod to the proposal. Now, his close friends say Ribadu has come to the painful conclusion that the EFCC job has slipped out of his hand for good.

Courageous president
Furthermore, Yar’Adua is said not be 'very comfortable with EFCC’s flagrant abuse of due process and rule of law under Ribadu.' This time, the source said, he has summoned courage to deal with the embarrassment once and for all.
Also, the President allegedly feels that the EFCC has been applying subtle blackmail against him, a development which is said to have irked him. For instance, Ribadu was said to have written to Yar’Adua seeking for permission to prosecute some past governors, including Odili, Ibori and Igbinedion, among others.

"The president felt it was blackmail, reasoning that Ribadu did not need to first seek his permission before confronting others." The administration also shares the view that it is the anti-graft boss that is spreading the unsubstantiated insinuation that the president is shielding his powerful friends and sponsors form prosecution over alleged corruption. And he had allowed him to get away with some of his flagrant abuse of due process and the law in order not to be perceived in that light. He couldn't continue forever under the shadow of blackmail. And when Okiro asked for permission to ask Ribadu to go on a course, he had to do what's right before the law, not minding if he would be called names.

Not guilty
However, Ribadu’s supporters contend that the EFCC chairman’s commitment to get the work done may have been responsible for his perception as high- handed and arrogant. They argue that it was not Ribadu’s fault that he was promoted a commissionser before he went to the War College, nor should he bear the blame for his promotion to the rank of AIG. They before NIPSS. "Nuhu is a patriotic Nigerian who wants the best for his country. He genuinely believes in the fight against corruption. He could have made mistakes but he's only human," said a close friend of his.

Selective justice
But the above argument is quickly dismissed by his army of critics. One of them told Saturday Sun: "What we have had since EFCC began has been selective justice and prosecution. If you are against OBJ, you are harrassed and humiliated. But once you are on the side of government, you do no wrong. Why hasn't EFCC investigated or prosecuted El-Rufai, Andy Uba, Abdullahi Adamu, Odili, even Obasanjo himself despite overwhelming evidences?"

Illegal tenure
Even amidst the cacophony of voices, a new twist is rearing its head: the Senate's confirmation or otherwise of Ribadu's second term in office. There are wide spread speculations that the Senate has not even confirmed him for a second term, that the eleongation of his tenure was just a mere presidential proclamation. If that is the case, then all his actions since the beginning of his purported second term could amount to an illegality in the face of the law.

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