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Ribadu denied direct access to Yar’Adua

Posted by By LUCKY NWANKWERE, and GODWIN TSA Abuja on 2008/01/08 | Views: 302 |

Ribadu denied direct access to Yar’Adua

The embattled Chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), Mallam Nuhu Ribadu, appears to have lost out completely in the current power game as he is no longer to have direct access to President Umaru Yar’Adua.

The embattled Chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), Mallam Nuhu Ribadu, appears to have lost out completely in the current power game as he is no longer to have direct access to President Umaru Yar’Adua.

As a serving police officer, Ribadu is henceforth required to go through his boss, the Inspector-General of Police, Mr. Mike Okiro if he has any reason to have an audience with the president, Daily Sun can authoritatively report.

The body of Senior Advocates of Nigeria (SAN) is, however, divided on the controversy over the re-appointment of Ribadu for a second term in office by former President Olusegun Obasanjo without Senate approval.
While Chief Chris Uche (SAN), an Abuja-based legal practitioner and his Ibadan counterpart, Chief Niyi Akintola (SAN) are of the view that the re-appointment was illegal without the Senate approval, others disagreed.

President Yar’Adua was said to have been irked by the media hype against the decision that the former EFCC boss should proceed to the National Institute for Policy and Strategic Studies (NIPSS), and was clearly disappointed that the EFCC could orchestrate such propaganda.
“I can confirm to you that Nuhu Ribadu has been barred from seeing the president directly henceforth. He cannot see the president as he used to do. On a number of occasions, he had tried to see President Yar’Adua, but on each occasion he was asked to pass the request through his boss, Okiro. He has been told times without number that any request to see the president must get the approval of the IGP, otherwise the president cannot see him,” a Presidency source told Daily Sun.

He said since the whole issue had become somewhat of a blackmail, the decision was taken to halt Ribadu from having direct access to the president, pointing out that the former had not helped matters with his encouragement of what is seen in government circle as on-going propaganda over the matter.
“Since the issue is becoming blackmail, the president is not ready to budge. You know the president, he is one man that believes in doing things according to the rule of law and since the police authorities have felt that Ribadu was due for training, he has to go”, the source stated, adding, “that’s what happens to a tactless official”.

Daily Sun gathered that since the recommendation by the police authorities for Ribadu to proceed on course and the subsequent presidential approval, the president had been inundated with all manner of letters and requests, all appealing for the reversal of the decision.

Accordingly, all attempts by Ribadu in the last one week to see the president over the issue had been thwarted by senior government functionaries who insist that he should channel any request for an audience with the president through his boss, Okiro, as it applies to all other officers of his rank.
Speaking separately with Daily Sun on the controversy, the Senior Advocates hinged their arguments on provisions of section 2 (3) of the EFCC Act 2004 to arrive at their different positions.

The section in reference provides: “the chairman and members of the commission other than the ex-officio members shall be appointed by the President subject to the confirmation of the Senate”
Chief Chris Uche (SAN) opined that: “It is mandatory that the approval of the Senate is got by the serving president before the re-appointment of the EFCC chairman can become legal.

“The effect of not getting the approval of the Senate before he was re-appointed is that his entire re-appointment is voidable. It means that if it is discovered that there is a lacuna, it can be voided.
“What I am saying is that it is voidable. It means that there was no legal appointment in the first place. As it is now, it means due process was not followed in his employment because his appointment must follow the provisions of the EFCC Act.”

He also submitted that: “There was no proviso in the EFCC Act exempting seeking Senate approval in the event his appointment is to be renewed. Once the tenure has expired, just like election, anything that requires qualification, there must be compliance with the provisions relating to that process.
“Much as that was not done, the entire exercise is voidable. I don’t even see any reason why it should become an issue now. This is because the young man has not even opposed going for further studies. And even those who are crying over the directive that he should go back to school should not personalize the institution. I am worried particularly about some legal practitioners who have been very vociferous about this issue. There are a lot of senior persons in the commission who can do well too, if not better.

“I don’t know why there is this hues and cries over the directive that he should go back to school when the ex-president who appointed him has gone back to school. If Baba himself could go back to the Open University, then nobody is above further studies. Maybe they will teach him a couple of things about the rule of law. It is a good thing to send him there.”

In a similar position, Chief Niyi Akintola (SAN) said that the reappointment of Ribadu without Senate approval was illegal. He said that for his re-appointment to be legal, the Senate approval was mandatory. He also queried why the directive by the Inspector-General of Police to Ribadu that he must go on course must be made an issue. He said Ribadu was doing quite well, but that he was overdue for the refresher course he was nominated for.

Another member of the inner bar, Mr. Rickey Tarfa (SAN), said “the language of the statute on the matter is very clear. For both his appointment and reappointment, he needs the clearance of the Senate.
“Since he was appointed by the President, it is just obvious that he needs the confirmation of the Senate to be re-appointed. It is a clear matter. No controversy.”

However, Professor Awa Kalu (SAN) who is one of the leading counsel to former Governor of Abia State, Dr Orji Uzor Kalu differed, saying there was no need for Senate approval of the reappointment.
According to him, “When you are appointed, you get the clearance from the Senate. The fact that the tenure is renewable does not mean that you must go back to the Senate each time the appointment is to renewed.

“The general position is that it is not the normal practice to go back to the Senate for approval. That is my view on this issue. I have never seen any enactment that says after appointment, if you want to renew, you must go back to the Senate. As far as I am concerned there is something I want to call Nigerian syndrome. You bring a person to office, and then suddenly you begin to think that out of 140 million people, he is the only one who can do that job. If Ribadu has been nominated for a course, let him go for the course unless there are good reasons why he should not be subjected to service discipline or service procedure.

“In the first place, he ought to have gone for that training before becoming AIG. The man about four years ago was only an Assistant Commissioner of Police. Nobody complained when they were promoting him up till the time he became AIG, while some of his colleagues are still marking time somewhere. Then, suddenly, he is the only person who can be in charge of EFCC. That means Nigeria is a failure. That is the way I look at it. Yes, he is doing a good job. But Nigeria must have at least 50,000 people who can do that job or else we are finished as a nation.

“Okay what happens if his tenure expires? Will people say he should stay there? Over the years we recycle ministers, recycle head of state. We have the ‘only Abacha can do it’ syndrome. We have ‘only Obasanjo can do it alone’ syndrome too. Now, it is ‘only Ribadu can do it.’”
In his contribution, Chief Mike Ahamba (SAN) who is the leading counsel to Maj.-Gen Muhammadu Buhari, said: “Yes, former President Olusegun Obasanjo needs Senate approval to re-appoint Ribadu. It is a new appointment.

But, since he has not been found wanting in any way, what the Senate will just simply do is to invite and tell him to bow and take a leave. If the Senate is saying that the appointment was illegal, they should then go to court and contest it.
“But why the complaint now? Did any of them grumble when he was earlier appointed without their approval? So, why the complaint now.”

Meanwhile, the Pro-National Conference PRONACO spokesperson, Wale Okunniyi has criticized the alleged plan by former President Obasanjo to frustrate the redeployment of Ribadu from the EFCC, saying the move was pregnant and smacked of fear of the unknown.
Okunniyi, who spoke in Lagos on Thursday, against the backdrop of newspaper report, said the “sinister” move of Obasanjo was geared towards protecting himself, his daughter and his business partners from a genuine probe and the exposure of his secret deals should another person take over from Ribadu, alleged to be his hatchet man.

“I think Nigerians should rise up against the orchestrated ploy to frustrate the restructuring of the anti-graft crusade and even the lopsided Nigerian polity,” Okunniyi said
The PRONACO spokesman, however, cautioned that Ribadu’s replacement and the restructuring of the anti- graft institution must be credible and transparent, warning that the nation, at this crucial period, could not afford to compromise genuine anti- corruption war if its citizens must be prosperous.

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