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Frisky Larr (M. A.)

Radio/Television Journalist/Communication Scientist, Govt. accredited Translator/Interpreter of the English language
Judicially sworn interpreter of English (Regional Court of Bochum)

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more articles by Larr

Without wishing to preempt the credibility of these charges against Nuhu Ribadu or profess the sanctity of the man himself, it is worthwhile pointing out to Farida Waziri and her cohorts that the public is simply reluctant to buy into the credibility of these charges in the face of proven persecution of Nuhu Ribadu that has so far, being a far cry from what judicious rule of law prescribes. They are not only coming too late – they could have been invoked at the height of his travails in the wake of dismissal and demotion if they had that much credibility – they smack too clearly of desperation and panic.


Farida Waziri: Bitterness Against Ribadu?
by Frisky Larr

A lot has happened since the removal of Nuhu Ribadu from the Chairmanship of the Economic and Financial Crime Commission (EFCC). His demotion in rank and subsequent dismissal from the Police Force not by President Umaru Musa Yar’Adua or by Perry Osayande or Michael Okiro but by the one and only James Ibori who openly boasted about the sequential order of the predicament that was to befall Nuhu Ribadu, are now history. A lot has happened indeed.

In the real life of politics and public administration, actors and personalities are never permanent. There are always predecessors as there are successors. Charismatic and successful actors virtually remain in the scene for very long periods after their physical departure. They are endeared in the minds of the beholders. Celebrated failures also stay long in the scene for historical reference. They both remain in history for two opposing reasons. But success and fame is what defines the ambition and aspiration of any public servant. Successors therefore, always have an uphill task to outperform their predecessors when such predecessors are widely acclaimed as heroes and successful achievers.

When Barack Obama took over the rein of leadership from George W. Bush, he understood that the campaign days of spelling out the evils of the government that he sought to succeed were long over. While he overturned several policy positions to suit his own pattern of work, he has for the past one year, hardly ever mentioned the name George W. Bush to say the least of criticizing him in person. Every appointed office-holder has been at his or her best to outperform the predecessor without a personal word of criticism.

Also back home in Nigeria, not even the successor of a badly hated, discredited and disgraced Michael Aondoakaa has so far, uttered a single word of personal disdain for the predecessor even though this would have gone down quite well with a large section of the public and learned men of the legal profession. It is decorum at its best.

This unfortunately, cannot be said to have characterized the conduct of Mrs. Farida Waziri since her controversial and indeed illegal inception as Chairwoman of the EFCC. Till today, Ribadu has not been formally removed as Chairman of the EFCC. He was sent on study leave to improve leadership abilities. The seat was technically not vacant at the time Farida Waziri was named as successor and screened by the Senate.

In the resultant chain of predicaments that Nuhu Ribadu was subjected to – finally culminating in self-imposed exile for fear of survival – the young, flamboyant man has never mentioned the words Farida Waziri in any public statement that I am aware of. In countless statements, several comments have however, been attributed to Farida Waziri condemning the methods adopted by her predecessor in his fight against corruption. She has insinuated GESTAPO methods, kidnapping of suspects and disregard for constituted authority and rules. She accused Ribadu of acting as if the EFCC was his personal property. Ribadu had thought the EFCC was made for him alone and no one else should dare to run it. She spat misguided venom against Ribadu as much she could and her handlers failed to alert her to the childish nature of her acts. Funnily too, these were the arguments advanced by declared enemies of Nuhu Ribadu who do not lay any pretence to objectivity or fairness. Farida Waziri has – particularly at the early days of her assumption of office, reiterated the notion that hers was to be a regime founded on the tenets of the Rule of the Law.

On the contrary however, Ribadu has often raised alarm that the war against corruption has grinded to a halt since his removal from the hot seat without personal references. Funnily too, not only Nigerians, but the whole world seems to hold this view. Farida Waziri has simply not understood the social psychological construct of the stubborn set of folks characterized as Nigerians. She does not seem to know the necessity and importance of deterrence that Ribadu’s aggressive drive did achieve.

What she however failed to tell the world was the destructive scope of corruption amongst the ruling class in Nigeria and the havoc this so far wreaked on the existence of the ailing nation. She did not emphasize the unorthodox methods with which the perpetrators of corruption and public looting advanced their deeds and the need therefore, for unorthodox methods in fighting the malaise if any hope of fundamental success was to be kept alive. Farida Waziri did not tell the world that Nuhu Ribadu in the short period of his performance as Chairman of the EFCC largely succeeded in all of these. His unorthodox methods of commando-style arrests, contempt for the pronouncements of corrupt judges and judicial operatives earned the publicly acclaimed saying of the wise “The fear of Ribadu is the beginning of wisdom”.

Scammers of Advanced Fee fraud (popularly known as 419’ers) were decimated overnight. There was no hiding place. Public officers feared in secret when they might be targeted and exposed because they all had a can of worms concealed beneath the glitter of their flamboyant surfaces. Since it was almost impossible to lay hands on any clean and honest public servant, Nigerians acknowledged the impossibility of arresting and bringing all public servants to book at the same time. Therefore, the battle had to start from somewhere with all the might and ferocity of dedication. It did not matter to anyone that Nuhu Ribadu started conveniently from the comfort of mostly pursuing enemies of the President of the time. I use the word “mostly” because Nuhu Ribadu did not prosecute the President’s enemies exclusively. There were pockets of the President’s friends that were also stripped bare in the public square of disgrace. This is a fact that does not even require names. Another undisputable fact however is the reality that the overwhelming number of prosecutions affected the camp of the President’s enemies. Nigerians knew this and did not care but largely admired the appreciable methods with which Ribadu instilled fear in the population sending the quiet message that corruption is dangerous and does not pay.

The ascension of Farida Waziri however ushered in an initial atmosphere of personal recriminations that prompted many observers to wonder if Waziri had been appointed to this sensitive position for her personal disdain for Nuhu Ribadu which naturally pre-disposes her to zealously scan for incriminating evidences to paint Ribadu black. After all, it requires giving a dog a bad name before slaughtering it in the eyes of delighted beholders.

So far, Farida Waziri’s EFCC has excelled more conspicuously in trying very hard to comb for incriminating evidences to nab Nuhu Ribadu. First, it was the non-declaration of assets. This ended up blowing up in thin air like a weightless and empty shower bubble. Then came charges of ownership of countless real estate in Dubai, London, thine Kingdom come and elsewhere in heaven and earth. This could not be sustained till today, with hard and concrete evidences.

Meanwhile however, the real job of fighting corruption has been witnessing colossal failure where it matters most. Lucky Igbinedion of Edo state fame was left off the hook with a ridiculous plea-bargain that kept every well-meaning Nigerian gasping for breath. James Ibori was discharged and acquitted by a High Court Judge amid a stunning and unbelievable dismissal of charges counting over one hundred. Bode George, an erstwhile powerful operative and personal friend of Ex-President Olusegun Obasanjo who is widely hated by the intelligentsia and whose hatred informs the aggression often transferred by a section of the pseudo-intelligentsia towards Nuhu Ribadu, was nabbed and is languishing in prison not because Farida Waziri had done an effective and objective job of conscientious prosecution but clearly because the President of the day Umaru Musa Yar’Adua approved the deserved prosecution of Bode George for politically strategic reasons. In the end, this is in no way different from a part of the accusations that Farida Waziri and her cohorts are levying against Nuhu Ribadu. Today statistics are released to underscore the quantitative significance of prosecutions made by Waziri’s EFCC to drive the point home that she has been more successful than Nuhu Ribadu.

Unfortunately however, success is always a matter of perception. The perception of the beholder not the self-perception of the actor himself! In Waziri’s long list of so-called successful prosecutions, there is hardly any big name that matters most for the ultimate purpose of deterrence. They big names are simply untouchable as long as James Ibori (de facto Vice President under Yar’Adua) or Umaru Musa Yar’Adua himself does not give the green light. The reason this campaign is deliberately being launched at this point in time is all but obvious. There is a change of guard in Aso Rock and uncertainty looms for the architects of doom.

The imminent comeback of Nuhu Ribadu as Presidential Adviser is sending jitters and shockwaves and boosting desperation and panic. All of a sudden, there is a new quality in the campaign to forestall any such eventual re-emergence. Some hitherto unknown civil society group with no known public credential or reputation is suddenly warning the Acting President against the appointment of Nuhu Ribadu. Nuhu Ribadu is now said to have been headlong involved in corruption. He is now said to have sold seized properties belonging to convicted public officers, to himself using non-existent and fake companies.

It has taken an American from a faraway land to come out in his defense and state that Nuhu Ribadu had nothing to do with the sales of such properties. Furthermore, the credibility of the source of information on which Waziri’s EFCC has relied for this serious allegation was called into question and described as stunning at best. It seems to have beaten the imagination of the contender that this source – a confessed criminal found guilty of corruption – was given credence in the first place.

Without wishing to preempt the credibility of these charges against Nuhu Ribadu or profess the sanctity of the man himself, it is worthwhile pointing out to Farida Waziri and her cohorts that the public is simply reluctant to buy into the credibility of these charges in the face of proven persecution of Nuhu Ribadu that has so far, being a far cry from what judicious rule of law prescribes. They are not only coming too late – they could have been invoked at the height of his travails in the wake of dismissal and demotion if they had that much credibility – they smack too clearly of desperation and panic.

It is also questionable that James Ibori had not been pursued with this vehemence and revisiting Ibori’s dossier precisely at this point in time also fits very much into the picture of desperation to make a mark and unwittingly woo public opinion in the panic of the moment. Thank goodness though that a huge majority of Nigerians is now beginning to see through the blurring haze and the days of the agents of darkness and vindictiveness are all but numbered. Divine guidance is all we crave.




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