The name Nuhu Ribadu, continues to evoke passion, admiration, hatred and [or] fear. These projected sentiments depend from which side one chooses to look at the name and equate same with the anti corruption fights and/or controversies in Nigeria.
The man Ribadu came to lime light when the then President Olusegun Obasanjo established the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) and brought in the youthful Police officer as pioneer chairman. The Deputy Commissioner of Police, a lawyer by training assumed office with all the commitment and determination to fight the cancer that had eaten deep into the fabric of Nigerian society. Ribadu thus mustered all the arsenals at his disposal to take on headlong the seemingly ruinous issue of corruption in the country.
Not quite long after this, political opponents of the then Obasanjo regime began to sound alarm that that the fight against corruption had taken a different perspective and had become personal and vindictive. Ribadu was thus seen as a tool for that regime to use in hunting down perceived political opponents. Prominent examples that were cited included the case of the then former Vice President , Atiku Abubakar who after having fallen out with Obasanjo was subjected to so much intimidation and harassment from the EFCC that it almost led to his being banned from contesting the 2007 presidential election, but for the intervention of the Judiciary.
When Umaru Musa Yar’adua became president in a highly disputed election in 2007, political pundits were quick to conclude that Ribadu’s tenure as head of the EFCC was almost over despite the fact that Yar’adua was the appointee of the then incumbent president , Olusegun Obasanjo. Yar’adua’s grouse with Ribadu was as a result of the arrest and detention of Alhaji Mangal Katsina, acclaimed trans border smuggler and financier of the Yar’adua campaign organisation while he was Governor of Katsina State and his main business partner while president. Ribadu had cause to arrest Mangal for his smuggling activities that was affecting legitimate businesses in the country, a situation that did not go down well with Yar’adua.
It was therefore not surprising that when the opportunity presented itself, Yar’adua was quick in kicking out Ribadu as EFCC Chairman, and then found a reason for sending him on course to the National Institute for Policy and Strategic Studies in Kuru, Jos. The rush to get rid of Ribadu ultimately backfired and in order to save face, the Police Service Commission was used in dismissing Ribadu from the Police for allegedly refusing to proceed on transfer after having been demoted from the rank of Assistant Inspector General of Police to Deputy Commissioner of Police. While challenging both actions in court Ribadu proceeded on self exile in the USA for fear of his life.
Acting President Jonathan appears amenable to having Ribadu work with him, a situation that is being speculated informed the decision of the Federal Government of Nigeria, to, through the Attorney General and Minister of Justice ordered a nulli prosecu against Ribadu at the Code of Conduct Tribunal which was trying him for non declaration of assets. Ribadu was also being accused of having purchased a house overseas worth N200million, an allegation which he vehemently denied. The EFCC leadership under Mrs. Farida Waziri had also accused Ribadu of taking away some vital files and of not properly handing over.
Now that government had shown lack of interest in persecuting Ribadu, what next? Are we to assume that all the hullabaloo about Ribadu were mere cover ups and pretences or are some people actually afraid of Ribadu being let lose outside the country with all the incriminating evidences to do with some prominent Nigerians? Will Jonathan bring back Ribadu as his Senior Special Adviser on Anti Corruption as is being speculated? And if that is to be the case, will Farida Waziri who made various allegations against Ribadu to the point of using INTERPOL to declare him wanted work with him? Is it possible for Farida Waziri, a much more senior police officer to take any instructions or advice from a junior like Ribadu? If not, then are we expected to see Waziri replaced as EFCC Chairman? Added to this confusion is the fact that the Police Service Commission had dismissed Ribadu from service. Is Jonathan going to reverse this decision?
Already, some critics of the Jonathan administration are of the view that the attempt to politically rehabilitate Ribadu is because acting president Jonathan plans to use the former anti corruption tsar to pursue the same agenda as was the case during President Obasanjo’s regime. The sentiments of the moment may not allow this as there are so many moral and legal issues that must be entangled before Ribadu can be brought back in whatever form. For now, all actions remain mere speculations, although Ribadu yet remains the most credible person in the nation’s quest of fighting corruption. And, definitely more will be heard of him.