THE recent pardon and rehabilitation of the pioneer Chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) Malam Nuhu Ribadu, has been the subject of heated public debates, just as anything to do with the former anti-corruption tzar is wont to.
As if from the blue, the Police Service Commission (PSC) which has played less-than-noble roles in the Ribadu saga, opted to restore his rank as an Assistant Inspector General of Police (AIG) and promptly retired him. The PSC claimed it changed its mind because Ribadu complained in a petition.
Concerned Nigerians wondered what led to the Commissionâ€™s sudden change of heart, since Ribadu has not only been protesting against his maltreatment but has also gone to court to contest it. It is clear to anyone who cares to know that the PSC has acted a script which had nothing to do with the positions it advanced for the demotion and reinstatement of Ribadu.
It is clear that Ribaduâ€™s promotion to the rank of AIG by former President Olusegun Obasanjo, in the first place, was politically motivated. Therefore, when a new government succeeded that regime and could not flow with the Obasanjo legacy, its demotion of Ribadu, his removal from the EFCC, maltreatment at the National Institute for Policy and Strategic Studies (NIPSS) and prosecution for alleged flouting of code of conduct rules, were all politically motivated.
Consequently, the pardon and reinstatement of the fiery anti-corruption crusader is being viewed in many quarters as also a political move being made as a result of international pressures and the President Goodluck Jonathan regimeâ€™s own perceived intention to give him a top national assignment soon.
Ribadu, while presiding over the EFCC affairs, was able to impress many interests in the international community and was able to improve the corruption perception of Nigeria. When he went into exile, he was seen as a fugitive from a system that abhored his contributions to the fight against corruption and was much sought after.
With the advent of the Goodluck Jonathan era, which has been well received in the international community, and which is also eager to work together with the international community, Ribaduâ€™s rehabilitation was only an even waiting to happen.
We are happy for Malam Ribadu and congratulate him for his being brought back to the good books of Nigeriaâ€™s public service.
The way the Yarâ€™ Adua regime treated him gave the impression that people who stick out their necks to confront the ills that have shackled Nigeria will lose either their lives or their reputations in the end. His experience was enough to kill the personal zeal of patriots waiting to serve Nigeria with all their strength whenever given the opportunity. With his rehabilitation, this perception will be reduced.
However, the political nature of the Ribadu experience will continue to shadow him until (and if) he is given an opportunity to serve again in another challenging position with a free hand. That is when we will know the real Nuhu Ribadu.
We are also challenging the Police Service Commission to look again into the cases of other 138 officers affected like Ribadu in the demotion of â€œimproperlyâ€ promoted police officers. We urge that each case be treated on its own merit and that politics and witch hunting should be eschewed. Right now, many are left with the impression that the others were given the Ribadu treatment as a way of justifying a politically motivated action against one man.
The PSC should rise above politics in its approach to its work. The way it danced to the tune of politicians in the promotion, demotion and reinstatement of Malam Ribadu has put its credibility in question. In more civilised environments, people would have resigned their appointments in the midst of this saga.
The lesson we stand to learn from all this is that when political considerations lead our decision making, we may be forced to spit out and re-swallow our own words.