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Real reasons Ribadu re sisted going to Kuru

Posted by By IKENNA EMEWU (ikeroyal@yahoo.co.uk) on 2008/01/08 | Views: 351 |

Real reasons Ribadu re sisted going to Kuru


The storm is over. The sea is quiet and smooth as glass over the recommendation of a man for further education that seemed like punishment. It was a storm over Mallam Nuhu Ribadu, the EFCC boss and police AIG recommended for further training who rather saw someone sending him to school as the one trying to throw him unto a moving train.

The storm is over. The sea is quiet and smooth as glass over the recommendation of a man for further education that seemed like punishment. It was a storm over Mallam Nuhu Ribadu, the EFCC boss and police AIG recommended for further training who rather saw someone sending him to school as the one trying to throw him unto a moving train.

The entire controversy generated by his refusal was laid to rest on Wednesday when presidential spokesman, Mr. Segun Adeniyi, announced the final position of the officer whose office appointed Ribadu and who also has the powers to stop his course of work in EFCC. That person is, of course, the president.

He has said definitely that Ribadu, quite contrary to the propaganda raised, would be dispensed with and the EFCC will still go on. With that, President Umar Yar’Adua, a man that looks the opposite of stubborn on controversial matters stamped his feet on the ground and rested the case. He thus left the matter at the court of Ribadu who was even speculated Thursday evening to have thrown in the towel.


Staying put by hook
The level of hullabaloo raised on Ribadu’s selection for a course, which ordinarily, an officer of his level should have embraced with open hands raised some suspicion on what was actually wrong. No doubt, Ribadu is a police officer, still in service and on the list of policemen in Nigeria. That is why the police have promoted him twice since he sat in the EFCC driving seat. He got there as Assistant Commissioner of Police, he was later elevated to Commissioner, a double promotion, and at last, to the AIG rank. When he was recommended by the former IGP, Sunday Ehindero, Nigerians rumoured that the move, considered rather too rapid, was to prepare him as the next IGP. So why the same Ribadu who accepted the promotions from the police without quarrels when many of his colleagues at the police college were still CSP and ACP now turned around to fault another order selecting him for a course as victimization was a surprise.
So much was bandied in the media on why and why not Ribadu was being sent to Kuru to learn policy and strategy (courses said to be prerequisite for promotion to both CP and AIG, but which Ribadu was yet to attend), and many whose positions looked like people hired to foist a position on Aso Rock even told Nigerians that the ‘almighty’ ex-president Olusegun Obasanjo had scheduled a meeting with Yar’Adua to tell him to stop. But Yar’Adua has finally answered all the puzzles about Ribadu, and why he must return to the class to face the teachers.


The dust
Nigerians know that Ribadu remained an issue in all the days he occupied the EFCC top job. There were so many daring moves he made. There were also untouchables he touched. There were still sacred personalities he demystified. Imagine a sitting IGP de-robed in Nigeria, sent to the gulag, made a public ridicule and his fat tummy pressed flat to extract from him about N18b he allegedly swallowed. It was the high point of Ribadu’s theatre. Ribadu in many ways showed himself a courageous man, a patriot of high order and someone dedicated to his duty and the love of sanitizing Nigeria.
But when the ovation was getting high for him, it seemed the persons that put him to work called him back to redirect his cause, mellow his zeal and notify him on the new shape of his wars against corruption. Nigerians turned around from their praises to see him dancing a strange tune emanating from a strange and unseen drummer somewhere. Many serious infractions Nigerians expected EFCC to tackle were glossed over, yet some others that might not be judged as serious were prosecuted and persecuted with candour and venom. Ribadu later came to be known, maybe rightly, maybe wrongly, as Obasanjo’s hound, a guided missile against selected targets. Even the Tafa Balogun melodrama was analysed to reveal the vendetta that was intentionally orchestrated against the fallen IGP. Eventually, it emerged that Balogun had resisted pressure to give Ribadu another double promotion that would have seen him coming to the EFCC seat as full Commissioner of Police.


Out of tune
A major challenge EFCC under Ribadu will always live with is the hard fact that the agency, though vibrant, dreaded and all, never made a great record of successfully picking any highbrow corruption case and passing it through investigation, prosecution and sentence.
Ousted former Bayelsa State governor, Diepreye Alamieyeseigha was apprehended, hounded, tormented and he buckled under the pressure and admitted handing in certain stolen items, and was left to go. He said on the day he was released that his age and his health were his undoing. He would have fought on if he were younger and healthier, he admitted.
It was the same process with Tafa. Yes, these men were proven corrupt, but Tafa, with the heavy criminality got a mild sentence that arose from plea bargain – scratch my back, I scratch yours. Other moves against the real enemies of the nation who have perfected their culture of plunder never got conclusive. The dust generated by the dubious handling of the celebrated Emmanuel Nwude case has yet to settle.
Many knew EFCC as an agency that banked more on bravado and intimidation rather than on procedure and respect for rules in handling its works. That was the reason many of the matters commenced by Ribadu never ended reasonably. Yes, recoveries were made, but arm-twisting the elevated out-of-law tradition of the lawless Obasanjo regime took the better of EFCC procedure.
Nigerians suspect it was the entrenchment of that scorn for due process in which Ribadu laid the foundation of EFCC that made him work seemingly at cross purposes with this administration under a man who has more regard for order as a means of fighting corruption than those whose avarice for power obfuscated their taste for order in order to remain in power.
Unfortunately, every effort to rein in the EFCC and put it on the part of sanity has provided a tool of blackmail and propaganda for a section of the media which readily branded the promoter of such efforts as working to stall the war against graft – as though corruption was the only acceptable way to fight corruption.


Selective crime fighter
Because of the way Ribadu carried on in the fight against corruption, his integrity in the action was sometime worrisome. He announced early last year that 31 governors were corrupt and would be prosecuted after the loss of their immunity. But now we have only seen not up to 20 percent of them prosecuted and the rest enjoy their booty and freedom. This particular act is one of the dents on Ribadu’s tough talks about corruption fight. His agency, from reliable facts, got a petition in July last year against the daughter of Chief Obasanjo and her involvement in fraud. EFCC overlooked it and up till now has done nothing serious to address that allegation. There was no talk about some spurious security report when the same woman sought to become a senator of the Federal Republic. It was the same with Sunday Ehindero, former IGP who Ribadu has not found the guts he mustered in prosecuting Tafa Balogun to touch.
The last gist is that there have been hundreds of petitions to EFCC against Chief Obasanjo and his tenure, demanding that he be prosecuted or at least investigated. But Ribadu in USA sometime after Obasanjo left office unfortunately canvassed that there are many people in Nigeria more corrupt than Obasanjo that still walk free. He doubly indicted himself in that statement – one that EFCC is condoning corrupt people known to them while it fights others and secondly, admits Obasanjo is corrupt, but not the most corrupt. The impression is that there is an extent of corruption margin Obasanjo needs to score before he would be fit for investigation by EFCC.
Incidentally, all this is happening in a country where international watchdogs have since concluded that about 70% of the corruption in the land takes place in the presidency. Even presidential spokesman Segun Adeniyi alluded in his interview that if the corruption in NNPC is addressed, then Nigeria would have tackled about 50% of the corruption in Nigeria. Incidentally, Obasanjo personally supervised the NNPC in all his eight years as president. But not much has been done at the NNPC by Ribadu’s EFCC.


Real reason for resistance
The ability to build politics into every move in Nigeria actually introduced some political heat into Ribadu’s removal. One major political clause in the hype generated in the matter which some viewed as intentionally created by EFCC men against the government was the fight to save Chief Obasanjo and his men – the men who ran the show for him under pseudo names, titles and company identities. These agents served as the avenues through which companies bought public enterprises in every sector of the economy, and new ones sprang up like mushrooms overnight.
Ribadu is considered as the last man standing in the Obasanjo political bloc. He is considered a major bargaining chip as the post Yar’Adua permutations begin to crystallize.
So, by the time the bloc heard of Ribadu’s removal, they were up in arms as their alarm antenna got triggered that something sinister would be in the offing. Their alarm was not misplaced as Yar’Adua had already sloshed tar on most of the reforms Obasanjo’s regime prided itself with.
The fear was that removing Ribadu would be a dangerous encroachment on Obasanjo and his men. Ribadu has been seen as the last man in the Obasanjo mob still around and the bloc believes his removal is the end of a tribe that seized state power like personal effect.
Saturday Sun gathered that most of those money bags given birth to and enriched further by Obasanjo’s eight years threw money around, tried to buy a section of the media to embark on propaganda, tipped gullible and purchasable rights groups and individuals to oil the wheels of the gamble.


Adviser lawyers
Ribadu’s days in EFCC blossomed with robust friendship with a retinue of hot-head lawyers, most of them respectable activists. These men were believed to be great beneficiaries of the EFCC profligacy, according to our investigations. Most times, their positions and advises were shaped by the lucre accruable from EFCC.
They were the ones who taught EFCC how doable it was to impeach a governor with six members of a 24-member state house of assembly. They were the ones who advise on the actions (albeit illegal) taken on Ekiti anf Ayo Fayose. They were the persons who threw in legal gambit into the simple order of ‘proceed to school and learn more’. They argued on street law and uncommon personal interest that all conceivable laws have been breached by just telling Ribadu to stay off the EFCC platform.
A source told Saturday Sun that “Ribadu is a master in PR and propaganda and was well heeled in using his means to make friends that save him on rainy days. Such friends spanned the media and the legal profession and were behind most of the out-of-sync moves by EFCC, which they were always handy to justify. “These men constructed Ribadu into the media colossus he transformed into, making his works in the eyes of public opinion look a million times larger than life”, an ex-police chief who was one of the teachers Ribadu passed through obliged.


Untidy management
The bug and gene of laissez faire that shaped EFCC under Ribadu according to insiders was all permeating. As the agency carried on investigations, public comments and others haphazardly, so it managed its internal affairs.
“There is hardly any bookkeeping in EFCC. Things are commenced, proceeded and consummated at individual behest and no finesse whatsoever”, a source disclosed.
That crisis of bookkeeping is one of the major reasons, Saturday Sun, was told that make the leadership of EFCC develops cold feet about leaving office. “Any day Ribadu leaves, many things would be exposed. Those things may not actually border on embezzlement of EFCC fund, but actually on unavailability of records because things were done as if there would be no tomorrow. That Obasanjo tradition of anything-goes is counter productive. Unfortunately, EFCC through Ribadu, imbibed it and it is now a major crisis looming large over the managers of EFCC who now face an ouster. There is real fear on how to start the creation of files that most times never existed. It is sad to say this, but the reality is that EFCC was set up like a personal thing and operatives carried on just any how”, Saturday Sun was told.
The next angle is that EFCC men have been known for deals with suspects and accused persons. Available reports say that most times, EFCC men resort to pricking accused persons and acting the thick on them for as long as possible to squeeze something out of them. Money often exchanged hands between accused persons and EFCC men on demand. One of the persons who passed through the furnace of EFCC, Chief Emmanuel Nwude, testified that much when he declared that on many occasions EFCC top notches approached him to sign documents to blackmail some top shots they wanted incarcerated in exchange for freedom. He also alleged that EFCC men who in the public wear the toga of clean anti-corruption crusaders made constant demands of money from him and other suspects and also arranged to under-sale his properties later resold to cronies out of malice.
The facts about EFCC all culminate in the conclusion that it was born and nurtured in a style that made it an agency of men and not that of laws.
“There was no effort at entrenching sustainability. EFCC was run at variance with Henry Kissinger’s assessment of the indices of a good leaders or good leadership. After The Time Magazine nominated Vladimir Putin of Russia Man of the Year for 2007, Kissinger made an assessment of the claim that the incumbent Russian president might in fact be the greatest leader of modern Russia and summed thus: “A leader becomes great if he institutionalizes a system, if it doesn’t become totally dependent on one person”, and this cannot be said of Ribadu and his EFCC, just like Obasanjo”, a lawyer said in a phone interview.


Ribadu’s past and wars
Ribadu is seen today as a bastion of compromise, in the Obasanjo interest. “But his real fear is what might become of his image after leaving office. He was not careful. We don’t want to commit the same offence as he did in condemning people in a haste, therefore, one cannot with authority say he was shady in dealings, but one sure fact is that he was not careful. He scorned order and due process, and most of the processes he commenced would collapse after his exit. But for the fact that he acted for an agency of state, he would have been in for litigations asking for compensations for wrongful actions against some persons”, an ex-Obasanjo camp politician revealed.
While in office, Ribadu was known among the police force as someone who had no regard for superior officers as a result of the enormous powers at his disposal through the presidency and he found it simply difficult to come down from his high horse when power changed hands. Through his conducts, he offended many in the police, his real constituency.
When Yar’Adua took over, Ribadu’s approach to matters was at variance with the Attorney General’s who believes in fighting corruption through due process as the chief law officer of the nation. Several clashes reared their heads and the two were always at cross purposes which later involved the intervention of the Senate. “Ribadu always engage the services of his media friends and lawyers. At a point he incurred the wrath of the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA). He is a lawyer himself and has offended his other constituency, and may not have reconciled because of the way he carries on. So, where Ribadu would find succour now is another problem leaving EFCC office would expose him to”, he further said.


Ex-governors’ smokescreen
When EFCC suspected that Yar’Adua might not be in the best of terms to tow its line, the smart men of that group from our findings had to key into public opinion sympathy. That was a diplomatic nicety Ribadu found efficacious and potent for the situation. The ready option was to whip up sentiments that his problems come from ex-governors.
A lawyer in Lagos asked: “Which ex-governors? Are they not the same his EFCC has exonerated of any offence. He has left them untouched. Or is he saying the few he arrested can constitute a formidable force against him even while not in office to frustrate his project. That is not possible. There are no ex-governors, as a body against Ribadu. If there is any, he has to explain to Nigerians to sound convincing. The simple truth is that what EFCC, which meant Ribadu did in the past years is enough to make him and other top agents feel scared of leaving office”.


Yar’Adua and the ex-governors
The reason parroted in the media as reason why Yar’Adua is protective of some ex-governors has never really been sustained by those who advance it, but Adeniyi’s interview of Thursday further puts the issue in perspective.
That it is almost impossible to link Yar’Adua with funds allegedly wrested from the former governors to fund his campaign. For one, Yar’Adua was hardly a part of the team that raised the fund. Obasanjo, his key aides, some politicians, select businessmen and the security operatives, including the EFCC, raised and managed the funds. They conscripted Yar’Adua (who was eager to return to the peace and quiet of private life after 8 years as governor of Katsina) to run for president. They even did the campaigning, with Yar’Adua joining them where and whenever his health permitted.
So, if an ex-governor now begins to sing about how he funded Yar’Adua’s campaign or fixed the election, he would also likely reveal who he gave the money to and it would not likely be Yar’Adua.
Even if the reverse were to be the case, it predisposes the fact that Yar’Adua is desperate to hang unto power – which is not the case.


Yar’Adua tribunal fate
In the past few months, seedy speculations have been high that Obasanjo is nursing a giant grudge against the man he put in Aso Rock. He feels he has lost touch and relevance, and fallen out of favour so soon after leaving office, especially with the rapidity most of his entrenched policies are rubbished.
The unease has given rise to suspicion that has made the ex-Aso Rock lord commence shopping for new allies, even those he messed up earlier on. In the bid to tie these loose ends into a deal, there have been moves to canvass for likely substitute for Yar’Adua should the tribunal at last turn in a negative verdict against him.
Obasanjo-made moneybags have been the foot soldiers in the project and have been moving around consulting and conscripting new members. As a result, they wanted Ribadu to remain an insider in the Yar’Adua government for information advantage. When they saw this plan crashing, they felt unraveled and had to employ counter offensive.
The intention as later played out by Ribadu, a matter the presidential spokesman made allusion to on Wednesday was to use Ribadu as bargaining chip. Obasanjo’s men were to coerce Yar’Adua to back out on the Ribadu removal plan or lose their support, thereby standing alone and exposed to an anticipated bitter outcome of the tribunal at last.
Unfortunately, Ribadu’s spin-doctors over dramatized the game and it sort of backfired, hardening the presidency that had to save face in order not to look purposeless and unstable before Nigerians.
“What some of these jobbers have not known is that Yar’Adua is not hell bent on staying in power like Obasanjo, so when the push comes to a shove, he wouldn’t mind leaving with his image intact than allowing desperados rubbish him. The Ribadu must stay campaign was like pitching a servant against his master and telling the whole world that the servant was more intelligent… you cannot outshine your boss, it is one of the first laws of power”, a PDP chieftain in Lagos reasoned.


Yar’Adua short-circuits Senate
The position taken by Yar’Adua this week toppled the fear earlier nursed that he might decide to push the matter off him by secretly forwarding Ribadu’s name to Senate for confirmation of his present tenure said to be illegal.
There was the strong fear that with a pro-Obasanjo Senate leadership, there might have been a success in the direction as the Senate would have somewhat appended its approval for Ribadu to stay on for another four years to further protect Obasanjo’s interest.


The reality now
As Yar’Adua put in the last word on Ribadu proceeding on course at Kuru, some realities have emerged. Chief among them is that it would be easier now to call Obasanjo to answer to his stewardship through a new EFCC leadership, what Nigerians feared Ribadu would not have done.
The other reality is that justice demands that he that scrutinized other people’s books for error and corruption virus should himself pass through the same crucible on leaving office. In the next few months, those persons who feel wounded by Ribadu at EFCC will flood the nation with petitions calling for investigation of the handling of one matter or the other.
The last is that since Yar’Adua bluffed the gamblers who used Ribadu as bait on him, he should be ready to face their fire. What would save him from their hatchet is to consolidate his flanks and be ready to go full blast battle.


Little ray of hope
Unless he resigns, however, it is not totally ruled out that Ribadu may in fact return to his seat after the completion of his Kuru course. It is just that the chances have been made even slimmer by those who launched the propaganda war against the presidency, in the hope of blackmailing it to retain the Adamawa-born anti-graft czar.

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