The Ribadu Drama: What Transpired

No Comments » December 31st, 2007 posted by // Categories: General Articles



The Ribadu Drama: What Transpired

Seyi Oduyela & Olufemi Soneye

 

The news about the transfer of the Economic and Financial Crime Commission (EFCC) Chairman, Mr. Nuhu Ribadu has been greeted with mix feelings. Notable Nigerians -Chief Gani Fawehinmi, Professor Wole Soyinka, and Mr. Femi Falana among others have asked the Nigerian Police Chief Mr. Mike Okiro to reconsider the decision; while the likes of Professor Itse Sagay and Mr. Festus Keyamo believe that there is nothing wrong with the decision to send Mr. Ribadu to training.  However, African Interest investigation revealed that the issue of the transfer was not news to Mr. Ribadu himself and that before this time, there have been series of politricking going on behind the scene.

 

According to our source, Mr. Ribadu would have been sent to the Nigerian Institute for Policy and Strategic Studies (NIPSS) before now but for his media games. A reliable source disclosed that shortly after the Yar’Adua government was sworn in, Ribadu had the feeling that President Yar’Adua might want to replace him and had to do everything to hold on to his EFCC job. Mr. Ribadu had long forgotten that his primary job is the Police job and he got the EFCC job as a police officer. Our source confirmed that President Yar’Adua did not buy Mr. Ribadu’s style of administering justice, but was reluctant to replace him because he did not want to be seen as protecting anybody or interfering. Ribadu, according to our presidency source, expressed concern about President Yar’Adua’s disposition to him.

Few months ago, a Nigerian newspaper reported that ex-governors have perfected a plan to get rid of the EFCC chairman. According to the news report, the EFCC would be placed under the supervision of the Ministry of Justice. On the contrary, our investigation revealed that it was the Attorney-General of the Federation (AGF) who sent a memo to President Yar’Adua requesting that the EFCC be placed under the Justice Ministry. According to the AGF, his memo is in line with the provision of Section 174. According to this section:

(1) The Attorney-General of the Federation shall have power –

(a) To institute and undertake criminal proceedings against any person before any court of law in Nigeria, other than a court-martial, in respect of any offence created by or under any Act of the National Assembly;

(b) To take over and continue any such criminal proceedings that may have been instituted by any other authority or person; and

(c) To discontinue at any stage before Judgement is delivered any such criminal proceedings instituted or undertaken by him or any other authority or person.

Presidency sources disclosed that President Yar’Adua was still studying the memo when his Special Adviser on Communication, Mr. Segun Adeniyi took the Sunday Punch Newspaper to him. It was in the Sunday Punch that the story of the planned transfer of EFCC to the Justice Ministry was reported. Our source disclosed that the development did not go down well with President Yar’Adua who went ahead to approve the memo. However, what was not known to President Yar’Adua was that his Chief of Staff, Major-Gen Mohammed Abdullahi (rtd) and the Aso Rock Counsel were already working on a brief to counter the AGF’s memo. According to their brief, the EFCC was granted leave by the Supreme Court to prosecute cases without the approval of the AGF. President Yar’Adua on receiving the brief withdrew the approval he already gave to the AGF’s memo. Though the President did not bother to investigate how Mr. Ribadu got to know of the AGF’s memo, he did not hide his disappointment in the way in which Mr. Ribadu uses the media to his advantage. Presidency sources disclosed that the Chief of Staff and the Aso Rock Counsel are on the side of Mr. Ribadu and they may have been his sources within the Villa.

 

A source who spoke to African Interest on the condition of anonymity, disclosed that Mr. James Ibori had agreed and in fact been cooperating with EFCC until Mr. Ribadu was tipped off that there was a plan to send him to the NIPSS. According to our source, as insurance, Mr. Ibori was arrested and arraigned by EFCC. African Interest gathered that this is to blackmail the presidency and make his transfer look like it was planned by ex-governors, particularly Mr. James Ibori.

 

African Interest investigations revealed that prior to his new appointment as the EFCC Chairman, Mr. Ribadu had been a police prosecutor with little or no success record to show. Our investigation also revealed that as a police prosecutor, Mr. Ribadu leaks cases to the media. In 2001, Mr. Ribadu approached one of the leading weekly magazines in Lagos of a case involving a 419 kingpin. He alleged that judges and some of his bosses help the conmen to get off the hook of law. He specifically mentioned one judge- Judge Auta, the judge who presided over the bail application filed for Late MKO Abiola in 1994. He gave all the documents to the weekly magazine and the story was published. Since then, he has been feeding various media with information from police files.

 

While some praise him for his good job as the EFCC chairman, some believe that Mr. Ribadu is not totally honest and that he allowed himself to be used by former president Obasanjo to witch-hunt his perceived political enemies. Mr. Ribadu knew through investigation that part of what was allegedly stolen by Mr. Joshua Dariye, former Governor of Plateau State, was actually donated to the Obasanjo/Atiku campaign. Mr. Ribadu hid that from the Nigerian public until Mr. Dariye made it public. There was also the case of the constitution of the Administrative Panel of Enquiry. The panel indicted politicians, including Mr. Lekan Tejuoso, son of Oba Dapo Tejuoso and opponent of Mr. Obasanjo’s daughter for the Senatorial seat.

 

Our investigation revealed that some of the members of the Administrative Panel are EFCC contractors and they also represented a profession they did not work for. African Interest investigations reveal that Mr. Goodluck Ebelo who served on the Administrative Panel was not a journalist as at the time he served on the Panel as a representative of Journalists. Mr. Goodluck Ebelo, we gathered, was fired along with other 49 employees of The News Magazine in 2005. Investigation revealed that Mr. Ebelo, though was laid off with other 49 employees of the News Magazine, the reason for his dismissal was not unconnected with a contract he got from EFCC late in 2003 to produce the 2004 calendar for EFCC. Though African Interest is not sure of the cost of the contract, we gathered it was between 2.5 Million to 4 Million naira. The News Magazine management knew about the contract and fired Mr. Ebelo, who at that time was a Deputy Editor of The News Magazine. We gathered that Mr. Ebelo hid the contract deal from his employers but they got to know later and fired him. As at February 2007, when Mr. Ebelo served on the Panel, he was not and still not working for any media, either as full time journalist or as a freelance reporter. Mr. Ebelo and Mr. Nuhu Ribadu, according to our source met in 2001 when he served as the link between Mr. Ribadu and the News magazine.  Investigation revealed that the first story that Mr. Ribadu leaked to Tempo Magazine was written by Mr. Ebelo, who then, was a Senior Reporter of Tempo Magazine.

 

There has also been questions on why Mr. Ribadu preferred to use private lawyers to prosecute EFCC cases and also the connection of a Director of The News Magazine and the legal adviser of the News Magazine both working as Communication and Legal consultants for EFCC. Mr. Dapo Olorunyomi is a founding ream member of The News Magazine, while Mr. Femi Falana is the legal Adviser of the News Magazine. A source disclosed that Mr. Olorunyomi may have been seen as Communication consultant; he does more than that for Mr. Ribadu. According to our source, Mr. Rikki Tafa who was once arrested and detained by EFCC worked with Mr. Olorunyomi as EFCC contractor. Our source disclosed that Mr. Rikki Tafa may have been arrested on issues not related to EFCC matters.

 

A senior Police Officer who spoke to African Interest on the condition of anonymity said that Ribadu is first a Police Officer and still works for the Police and he is not the first officer to be recalled. According to him, Deputy Inspector General of Police, Mr. Martin Onovo, was once the head of the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA), but he returned to the Police and still in the Police. Our Police source also cited the murder investigation of Chief Bola Ige. According to him, when the DIGs who were investigating the murder case were sent on course and eventually retired compulsorily, no one raised highbrow.

During the face-off between former President Obasanjo and his Deputy, Alhaji Atiku, Mr. Ribadu played a role in the indictment. Mr. Ribadu’s EFCC carried out the shoddy investigation that exonerated Obasanjo in the PTDF scandal and indicted Atiku. On the contrary, documents that were later released by Alhaji Atiku pointed out that Mr. Obasanjo and Atiku both mismanaged and misappropriated the PTDF fund. Ribadu’s action then became clear of someone used for political reasons. Mr. Ribadu could not and did not give reasons for the one-sided investigation carried out by the EFCC on the PTDF case.

According to Mr. Bamidele Aturu, a Human Rights Activist, the sending of Ibrahim Lamorde for a training course at the police college in Jos as a criminal move meant to paralyze the EFCC.

He said while the body has recorded some successes, it has also recorded a lot of failures.

According to him, it is wrong to insinuate that there is a grand plan to thwart the leadership of EFCC and by extension, its activities.

Keyamo advised that while the strong points of the EFCC should be encouraged, there is also a need to strengthen the weak aspects of the agency.

Keyamo specifically named Andy Uba, Bode George and governor of Oyo State, Adebayo Alao-Akala as some people Ribadu failed to prosecute.

He called on Nigerians not to personalize the transfer of Ribadu and Lamorde, nor tie the existence of the EFCC to one or two individuals.

Keyamo explained that their ousters would not affect the activities of the EFCC because cases were already in court.

 

…. To be continued.

 

 

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