By Emma Ujah, Kingsley Omonobi & Emma Ovuakporie
FORMER Chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, and Action Congress of Nigeria, ACN, presidential aspirant, Mallam Nuhu Ribadu, yesterday, called for the criminal prosecution of former Attorney General of the Federation, Mr. Michael Aondoakaa for his alleged manipulation of state institutions for political ends.
Ribadu in an interview with Vanguard also blamed the ruling Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, for the rise in religious and sectarian crises in the country, stressing that the PDP would have to be shoved aside for Nigeria to move forward.
The presidential aspirant who spoke against the background of insinuations of an alliance between the ACN and the Congress for Progressive Change, CPC, played down talks of his stepping down for the CPC leader and former Head of State, Gen. Muhammadu Buhari, in the event the alliance takes root.
Assets declaration form
Ribadu who was arraigned by the Federal Government before the Code of Conduct Tribunal over non declaration of assets said Aondoakaa and a gang around him ought to be facing trial for manipulating institutions and the truth with a view to having him nailed.
He said: “With my asset declaration forms in their hands, they decided to go to court and said they charged me for non declaration of my assets. Not that I have assets, but that I did not declare, knowing fully well that nobody can ever become chairman of EFCC without going through Senate clearance and you can never be cleared by the Senate if you did not declare your assets.
“They know it; they had my asset declaration forms in their hands but in total disregard for the rule of law, abuse of institutions and government structure, they decided to go to court. The intention then was to ridicule me and possibly make Nuhu Ribadu to become angry and come back and then they would finish what they wanted to do with me.
“They took me to court and for one year, this case was going on and the court accepted the forms. I am going to give you copies of the asset declaration forms. Here they are _ the one I filled at the beginning and the one at the end of my tenure.
“Both of them are there but they still disregarded them. The court accepted them. When the court was about to deliver its judgment, the Federal Government went in and withdrew the charge. That was very unfair. And the government had to claim credit for it.
“That those who charge you, had the forms with them, and they went ahead to charge you, is abuse of court process, abuse of the constitutional body called Code of Conduct Tribunal by going to court to charge somebody for something you know fully well is false.”
Ribadu added: “In a normal country, Aondoakaa, and those people who did it ought to be facing criminal charges today. If this government wants to do justice and be fair to Nigerians, they should charge Aondoakaa and the rest to court for what they did – abuse of constitutional body.”
Asked to comment on the upsurge of ethnic and sectarian violence that is engulfing parts of the nation like Jos, Boko Haram and Niger Delta, Ribadu said: “Before PDP, we didn’t have trouble in the Niger Delta. Before PDP we did not kill ourselves the way we have killed ourselves. Before PDP we had not seen this kind of killing and thuggery as much as we have today.
“And there is much division among Nigerians including pollution of politics itself and for the first time we are talking about an article of faith. PDP has to give way for this country to move forward. I have come back to join the group of people who believe in a change, we deserve it and are entitled to it.”
Ribadu equally lampooned those he called political fraudsters who he said had been trying to deceive Nigerians on the prospects of a Buhari candidacy under the ACN/CPC merger in the 2011 elections saying it was only wishful thinking as it was off the mark of the change the ACN desired.
He said: “If I may ask, what is so special about CPC? ACN has been having merger talks, we have had it with APGA; we have had it with Labour Party. Mind you these mergers are not about individuals and aspirations. How many states do they (CPC) control?”
Reminded that Buhari was being touted to emerge as presidential candidate under a joint arrangement that would hinder his aspiration, Ribadu fired back: “Who told you Buhari has been picked as the candidate of the party?
“As media, the best thing you could do is to go to ACN and ask. You must hear from them if Buhari has been chosen, then you can come and ask me. It is like me claiming that PDP has adopted me as their own presidential candidate. Where did you get your evidence? ”
Asked if he would step down for Buhari, Ribadu retorted, “Why do you talk like this. Do you think the future of this country is about individuals? Are we talking about Nigeria or are we talking about individuals. If you are talking about Nigeria, then I think that should not be an issue at all.