Ribadu may face fresh corruption charge •Presidency receives indicting report on ex-EFCC boss

Sunday, April 4, 2010

 Written by Lanre Adewole

The deal to save erstwhile chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) from trial over alleged corrupt practices in office may have run into a hitch as an investigative report by the commission indicting him for alleged corruption is now said to be receiving serious attention from Acting President Goodluck Jonathan and the National Security Adviser (NSA).

Indications have also emerged that the presidency may have tactically okayed the commencement of a fresh trial against him on the basis of the indicting report, despite the application tabled before the Code of Conduct Tribunal last week by the office of the Attorney-General of the Federation, to stop his trial over alleged failure to declare his assets while in office as prescribed by the Fifth Schedule to the operational 1999 Constitution.

The commission’s investigative report was said to have indicted Ribadu for alleged fraudulent sale of assets seized from convicted fraudsters during his leadership of the commission. Prominent among the alleged assets seizure scandals were the cases of a former Director of FirstBank of Nigeria Plc, Chief Emmanuel Nwude, former Bayelsa State governor, Chief D.S.P Alamieyeseigha and former Inspector General of Police, Mr. Tafa Balogun.

On Nwude’s case alone, about N10 billion was alleged to be missing, while six out of the 10 companies that reportedly bought property surrendered to the government by Balogun, were said to be fake.

Security sources disclosed that following the receipt of the report by the acting president, he was said to have expressed his commitment to the prosecution of the case by the commission if the indictment in the report could be sustained.

 It was also gathered that criminal charges had already been prepared by the commission against the erstwhile anti-corruption campaigner. Feelers put out at the commission pointed to the likelihood of the charges being filed this week.

Ribadu, who resides in the United States of America, had refused to make himself available for trial at the Code of Conduct Tribunal despite the numerous summons served on him, culminating in his being declared wanted, though he later expressed his desire to face trial following the emergence of Jonathan as acting president.

He also, on several occasions, shunned summons served on him by the commission in the course of the investigation into the corruption allegations against him and later asked a federal high court sitting in Abuja to restrain the commission from inviting him for questioning.

He later made a surprise appearance at the commission on a day his successor-in-office, Mrs Farida Waziri, was away on an official assignment, with the Nigerian Tribune having a one-on-one interview with him that day, though he declined comments on his mission at his former work place.

Ribadu had it rough with the government of ailing President Umaru Yar’Adua, climaxing in his removal from office and dismissal from the police, with the latter still being challenged in court. Following the emergence of Jonathan as the acting president, two prominent Nigerians - a former Head of State and a renowned academic - were said to have persuaded him to give Ribadu a soft-landing and appoint him as a Special Adviser on anti-corruption war, with Jonathan reportedly consenting, which was said to have been responsible for the nolle prosequi entered in his assets declaration trial by the immediate past Attorney-General of the Federation, Prince Adetokunbo Kayode, SAN.

Speaking on the application, the Special Assistant to the AGF on Litigation, Dr. J.O Olatoke, had said that “before the dissolution of the cabinet, the former Attorney-General of the Federation, Prince Adetokunbo Kayode (SAN) reviewed the cases on grounds and directed that this case should be withdrawn.”

The move to stop his trial at the tribunal has also been generating furore, with a retired commissioner of police, Abubakar Tsav, calling it a dangerous precedent, which would suggest that some Nigerians were above the law.

In a statement made available to journalists on Sunday, Tsav stated that “The decision of the Federal Government to withdraw charges of corruption against Nuhu Ribadu is ill-advised and will lay a dangerous precedent that some Nigerians are above the law. The avowed war against corruption becomes rubbish and mere deceit. It will amount to aiding and abetting corruption rather than fighting it. Nuhu Ribadu is alleged to have bought a house for N200 million. Where did he get this money from? Nigeria is a funny country where application of justice is discriminatory.

“This act of discriminatory justice will only heighten violent crimes in the country and make the job of the police very difficult. If indeed Ribadu believes that he did not corruptly acquire his wealth, why not appear before the Code of Conduct Tribunal to defend himself? That is the only reasonable thing a government which cherishes honesty and justice should have ordered.

“This is a direct fight against Yar’Adua. I am sure Jonathan wants to use Ribadu as Obasanjo did to save some people or persecute them. The future shall prove me right if what we are hearing materialises. If Jonathan is honest and sincere, why not extend the same goodwill to Major Al-Mustapha and co, who have been in custody for over 11 years for attempted murder? Nigeria, we hail thee indeed.”

Replying the antagonists of the government pardon, Ribadu, through his counsel, Mr Femi Falana, said that “The irresponsible campaign is being mounted by those who are under illusion that Mr Ribadu is being restored as EFCC chairman. As this is wishful thinking, we shall join issues with the reactionary forces at the appropriate time.”

Source: Nigeria Tribune

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