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ON RIBADU: I beg to differ

By Eziokwu B. Ndu

Let me say from the onset that I am not a big fan of Mr. Nuhu Ribadu.  The only reason being that he was not a law abiding Chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).  I must however give it to him that he was bold, fearless and a strong crime fighter but perhaps he is probably a believer in the doctrine that “the end justifies the means” for achieving a goal.  Ribadu’s tenure at the EFCC was a catalogue of arbitrariness and abuse of power.

He ran the EFCC as a sole proprietor and was not accountable to his board.  You can easily count on the fingers of one hand how many board meetings he convened as chairman throughout his tenure at the helm of the EFCC.  He therefore did not have the benefit of the plurality of ideas and statutory approval processes that come from issues being discussed properly before actions are taken.  He virtually reported directly to the President and occasionally to the National Security Adviser (NSA).  He was a lord to himself.

Ribadu also allowed himself to be used by former President Olusegun Obasanjo to settle political scores and buy loyalty.  He has denied this but everyone knows the truth.  Some governors were untouchable while others were earmarked for big time persecution and disgrace.  How can you be fair and claim to uphold justice when two people commit the same offence and one is prosecuted and the other is not even accused let alone prosecuted.

Ribadu was also a media freak.  Unlike the usual practice with seasoned law enforcement agencies, EFCC under Ribadu was more concerned with media shows than having the actual work being done correctly.  Many innocent people have been ridiculed in public ahead of their being investigated by unnecessary media shows of arrests and being charged to court.  How do you repair wrongly damaged reputations?

There have been countless cases of the former EFCC boss allowing himself to be used to settle private scores or financial disputes.  There was a known case of a controversy over the ownership of some oil company and Ribadu was used to hound a respected businessman into detention for almost a week only for it to be proven that the man was innocent.  No compensation was paid for the wrongful arrest and detention.

The EFCC under Ribadu was not particularly clean.  Bribes were freely given and accepted from various people to the EFCC operatives.  Some were given through lawyers that represented EFCC.  One wonders how lawyers that represent EFCC will also be under the payroll of the so called accused persons.

A major feature of the Ribadu era was arrests and detention before investigations are carried out.  This has continued even till today.  The Farida Waziri era has also been characterized by the same arbitrary arrests and unlawful interrogation processes to hound people.  Section 34(1) of the Nigerian constitution provides that “Every individual is entitled to respect for the dignity of his person and accordingly no person shall be subject to torture or inhuman or degrading treatment”.

Many people who have had contact with EFCC tell of cases of inhuman and degrading treatment in the hands of the EFCC

The constitution also provides in section 36(4) that “every person who is charged with a criminal offence shall be presumed to be innocent until he is proved guilty”.  Mr. Nuhu Ribadu’s EFCC did not respect these constitutional provisions in a number of cases.  Mrs Waziri has also continued in the same footsteps.

There have also been cases where the EFCC invited people for questioning and instead of allowing the person to go, he is forced to sign a bail document when he was never arrested in the first place but simply invited for routine questioning.

This is a clear evidence of intimidation. The reason why EFCC has failed woefully in court in the Ribadu era is that in order to win cheap popularity they make a show of arresting people without first investigating their cases painstakingly.  They are usually too eager to score some cheap popularity and therefore fail to be painstaking in their work.

This practice has continued with the EFCC till now. See what happened with NERC Commissioners.  After charging the poor fellows to court, it became obvious that most of the charges were frivolous.  NERC has therefore been for over one year, without a board of Commissioners.  If a thorough job is done of investigating cases before charging people to court, obtaining justice would no doubt be swifter.

So it is therefore easy to understand why I am not a fan of Mr. Ribadu.  As the saying goes, he who comes to equity must come with clean hands.  A new orientation is required at EFCC.  Ribadu may need some explanations to do and possibly some re-orientation himself before being offered another high office in government as is now being muted.


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Comments expressed here do not reflect the opinions of vanguard newspapers or any employee thereof.