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com The headlines screamed, newspapers sold out faster than they came, for once, everything seem to stand still – RIBADU REMOVED! In all his years as the EFCC chairman, I have deliberately watched with reservation, trying as much as possible to discern the mindset of this man. This police officer who people told me is a threat to corruption. At first, I followed his actions and utterances with much enthusiasm. One for been a young man, and the other for been a police officer who most considered not corrupt. An appellation not so common in Nigeria. As the days turned to weeks and weeks to months, some of the body language changed as any openminded observer would tell. It is a sometimes a problem with people who detest corruption to see beyond their noses when justice is sacrificed on the altar of anticorruption crusade. I must need enter a caveat here, I do not only hate corruption, I ABHOR IT! However, I am a student of Martin Luther king Jr. and do believe that injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere. Time teaches that when a man becomes law unto himself, when a perceived liberator stays “too long” he becomes a bane. Have we forgotten so soon how members of state assemblies were arrested by men of the EFCC and compelled to impeach Governors. The case of plateau state is still fresh where 6 members of a 24-member house signed an impeachment notice to remove a sitting Governor. What of the case in Oyo and Anambra state. The list grows. From the moment Ribadu reduced himself to OBJ’s hunting tool, all modesty and the course for which he set out to achieve was lost. From the day he decided to be partisan, even declaring to us that he knows whom the next president will be, the scale of justice tipped. We can understand the Buhari’s regime trying to fight indiscipline with the might of a military government, but who would explain away the flagrant abuse of law and disregard of its rule by the Ribadu led EFCC. I thought they said he is a trained lawyer. This Chairman of the EFCC has enjoyed an unprecedented record level in promotion especially in the administration of his paymaster, former President Obasanjo. In fact, he was promoted twice in a year, from Assistant Commissioner of Police to Deputy Commissioner of Police and then to Commissioner of Police and as a ploy to make him the successor of the crime riddled administration of Ehindero, was promoted to the rank of Assistant Inspector General of Police. A friend told me the other day that Ribadu said is he is prepared to swear he has never collected bribe in his career. Very funny! Its so easy to swear when so much money and power is involved. Particularly in this age when God rarely administers instant judgment. If he is so clean maybe its time he stepped aside, and let us take a look at some of the things he has done, then and only then can we know. It is so nice of him to want to still remain as the EFCC chairman, even at the expense of resigning as a police officer. However, he should be reminded that he was not born an EFCC chairman. I do not think the hands trembled that penned him as the EFCC chairman, neither do I anticipate such would happen when a new EFCC chairman will be penned.
Ribadu’s appeal to be allowed to remain in office reminds one of Sunday Ehindero’s plea to serve till after the April elections even when he has far exceeded his normal service duration. The result of that is what we are still witnessing. What is in there that he needs to do so badly to merit his volunteering to resign from the police force? What gives him the impression that if the corruption war is to be fought and won, he must head it? If he must fight corruption, he cam still be a police officer and do same. Afterall, Nigerians know corruption have eaten too deep into the police force. I do believe that Ribadu should be commended in many respects. At least, the internet advanced fee fraud and related crimes reduced drastically during his tenure, the fear of looting also hovered amongst elected and top officials like the sword of Damocles. Whether this fear translated to a reduction in stealing of public funds is left for students of history. It is insulting to tell 140 million Nigerians that without Ribadu, the fight against corruption is lost. It is a shame when even great minds want to make us feel that if Ribadu should drop dead today, corruption will rule the geographical entity called Nigeria. The war on corruption is not Ribadu’s crusade. It is a Nigerian war, and can only be fought by Nigerians. Maybe someone has to lead the crusade, but the oracle did not say that the person’s name starts with an R nor N. When people praise Ribadu for curbing corruption, it only elicits laugh. It is like praising Iwu for having conducted a free and fair election. Who does not know that corruption reached its zenith in Nigeria in the last few years of Obasanjo’s Administration with Ribadu as the EFCC chairman! When instead of providing service to the electorate, most elected officers insatiably stole (loot sounds too polite) in preparation for a showdown with one another. How did an assistant commissioner of police become an Assistant Inspector General of Police in barely three years? How would a man who claims to be uncorrupted accept a promotion from commissioner of police to an AIG within 3 months? It is so easy to say he merited it for his hard commitment to service and then forget the numerous police officers whose gallantry and uprightness still makes the country manageably inhabitable. Whatever happened to all the numerous accusations of over 200billion unaccounted naira against Governor Peter Odili of Rivers State on accounted billions of naira? Did Governor Lucky Igbinedion of Edo State put any visible structure on ground to support the billions his state got? Wither the accusations of Yerima of Zamfara been the most corrupt governor in the country? What of the ear tingling news from Turaki on how he supported the botched third term bid with billions of naira? How did Andy Uba suddenly become so rich, and Obasanjo’s unexplainable billions, where did they come from? What of the Boni Haruna’s and the Joli Nyame’s ? what happened to Bode George and the NPA under him? What about the recent allegation of impersonated 3.5billion naira deal by Iyabo Obasanjo? What of the reckless sales of choice properties like the AP, NITEL and a host of others? It’s either we don’t read the papers, we don’t see, or we choose to be blind because having been oppressed for so long, we are prepared to settle for anything that have the appearance of a succour. Maybe we need a new set of activist and human right campaigners. Maybe what we need is a new set of freedom fighters. The likes of Gani and Femi Falana are gradually because
of their sometimes blinded quest for a corrupt free society, failing to see the failings of a system - O pau que nasce torto, mo re torto (that which is long cannot but begat that which is long). Obasanjo with his personality CANNOT and would NEVER have considered Nuhu Ribadu as a watchdog, except he knew he certainly would do his bidding. Or do we forget so soon how all those that suddenly failed to do Obasanjo’s bidding suddenly became sinners why the faithful ones are praised to high heavens. Eminent personalities such as Wole Soyinka’s vituperations on the decision leaves one with the impression that some people only want the leader to make the change they want him to make, and save whatever other ideas he has to himself. Yar’Adua is at least for the moment, considered a good man by most Nigerians, and have shown that though ‘slow’, he is always moving forward. Can we not for once, allow decency to pervade in the fight against anything. Can we not for once, allow a leader with the understanding and information available to him, make needed changes to keep the nation in track? When opinion shapers talk, when perceived leaders speak, they should be conscious that the masses are listening. Narrow goals should never be allowed to becloud the larger goal of keeping a sane society. If Ribadu is as clean as we are made to believe in some quarters, maybe it’s time he stepped aside so we would know for sure, how clean he is. Else, how would we know if the rumours of the incriminating dossiers on him with SSS and other security outfits are true or some fiction of some jealous cabal? Except of course, he must remain as the EFCC’s point man for some surreptitious reasons, I truly do not see why he cannot proceed on the course. One government in its wisdom brought him as the head of the EFCC, another is asking him to proceed for a refresher course of some sort. Obedience is a key to uprightness. I do not lay claim to knowing the motive behind his going for the course, but fact is I also cannot figure out the motive of him wanting to resign from the police force just to remain the head of the Economic and Financial Crime Commission. Also, anyone that have sincerely followed the junta-like regime of former president Obasanjo with his scandalous abuse of the rule of law, would know that Ribadu would definitely be a misnomer in the ‘civilized’ government of president Musa Yar’Adua. Sticking to the rule of law may not be aggressive, but it certainly wont witch-hunt as easily as the military-like pattern the EFFC operated under the Obasanjo’s tenure. Unlike the era when people are first tried and condemned on the pages of newspaper before a court of competent jurisdiction passes its verdict, president Yar’Adua have shown some strong sense of obedience to what the law says. Even when a man is found guilty, he still should be punished within the confines of the law. For without law and the abiding of citizens to its tenets, civilization ceases to exist. If we must, now is the time to begin on a clean slate!