By Emmanuel Aziken, Political Editor
Erstwhile chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, Mallam Nuhu Ribadu was once poisoned in the course of his duties as anti-corruption czar, former President Olusegun Obasanjo has revealed.
Obasanjo, who spoke at an international forum on 3rd Tana High Level Forum on Security in Africa in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, yesterday, also disclosed that Ribadu created enemies for him because of the ruthlessness with which he carried out his responsibilities of tackling corruption in Nigeria.
Obasanjo, who spoke from the floor following a presentation on Illicit Financial Flow and Governance of Natural Resources made by Ribadu, affirmed that he had known from experience that the fight against corruption attracts a lot of enemies.
The former President declared that he has no fear of anyone still living in Nigeria, adding “it is rather them that fear me.”
Saying that Ribadu took on a lot of highly connected persons in his fight against corruption, Obasanjo said that the former anti-corruption chief was once poisoned, causing a scare among concerned quarters.
“It was a matter of life and death,” the former president said, though further details of the incidence were not given.
Obasanjo said that once Ribadu was appointed, he gave him a free hand and that Ribadu investigated him, his late wife and several persons close to him at that time.
He also narrated a story of how a serving minister, who was his senior in secondary school, was indicted and prosecuted by the EFCC, adding that when the minister was found wanting “there was no issue of seniority again.”
Obasanjo, who is also the chairperson of the Tana Forum, re-echoed Ribadu’s submission that at the centre of anti-corruption fight there was the need for willing political leadership at the highest level.
He, however, added that the leader also needs relevant legislations to work with, narrating his experience with the bill establishing ICPC which, he said, was whittled down by lawmakers, who felt they could be victims of the law.
In his remarks, the Prime Minister of Ethiopia, Hailemariam Desalegn, thanked Ribadu for his presentation, which, he said, highlighted many good things about Nigeria different from what is portrayed in the media.
In his presentation, Ribadu offered measures African countries can take to tackle illicit financial flow and repatriate money already illegally taken out of the African countries.
He said what Africa needs is honest and committed leaders who will set examples with themselves by eschewing corruption and close avenues of illicit financial flow.
According to him, it is the seriousness and commitment showed by the political leadership that will convince other foreign countries to work with them towards recovering looted monies stashed abroad.
Ribadu also emphasised the need for concerted effort among countries and a synergy between law enforcement agencies so that looters could be caught.