Former President Olusegun Obasanjo is set to meet with President Umaru Musa Yar’Adua over the removal of Malam Nuhu Ribadu as the head of anti corruption agency, Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).
Since the removal of Ribadu was first announced by The Times of Nigeria two days ago, loyalists of former President Olusegun Obasanjo have been holding frantic meetings both in Lagos and Abuja on how to convince President Yar’Adua to reverse the decision.
The Times of Nigeria can reveal that the arrowhead of the move to reverse Ribadu’s removal are the former personal assistant to President Obasanjo, Dr. Andy Uba and business mogul, Aliko Dangote whose business empire benefited tremendously from Obasanjo 8 years administration in the form of preferential treatments in key areas of country industry.
Uba and Dangote have already convinced Obasanjo on the need to meet with Yar’Adua and a New Year ’s Day meeting has already been scheduled with President Yar’Adua at the Presidential Villa.
Obasanjo himself is said to be uneasy with the direction things are going in Presidency especially with the removal of Ribadu. There have been several petitions for the former President and some members of his families to be probed by EFCC. The source said that Obasanjo is concerned that those petitions maybe acted upon with the removal of Ribadu.
“This will probably lead to a probe of Obasanjo’s business empire including his handling of affairs of the Petroleum ministry and the NNPC during his administration. The Nigeria/Sao Tome Joint Development Zone (JDZ) is another area that Obasanjo is scared that any investigation into it may result is either jail term of total embarrassment that tarnish whatever is left of his legacy.”
Uba and Dangote have been accused of using Ribadu to protect their business interest and the Presidency was said to have been briefed on it in the past. Though Dangote contributed heavily to Yar’Adua’s presidential campaign, he has not been able to exert the same amount of influence he had during Obasanjo’s presidency. The source said Dangote has “retreated to the business world away from politics” after President Yar’Adua made some policy reversal that affected his business especially as relate to his cement and oil and gas business.
On the other hand, Uba is said to be angry with Yar’Adua for not doing enough to stop his removal from office as the governor of Anambra State.
“Has anyone bothered to ask why Uba is still walking as a free man after all the atrocities he committed? Who is protecting him?” The source queried.
Smarting from these grievances, both individuals according to Presidency sources resorted to “using their common friendship with Ribadu to blackmail Mr. President.”
The President eventually decided it was time to act. Last week, the Inspector General of Police ordered the withdrawal of Andy Uba’s security details.
The Presidency source who briefed The Times of Nigeria on the development said that President Yar’Adua is unlikely to accede to Obasanjo’s request as his mind was already made up on Ribadu’s removal.
“There cannot be a reversal of policy regarding the removal of Ribadu. Government does not operate like that.” The source said.
The source said rather than contemplating on a reversal, the Presidency is working to ensure on a swift transition to ensure that the agency remains relevant and is reinvigorated.
President Yar’Adua is expected to tell Obasanjo that the issue is a police issue since Ribadu was reassigned by the police. This, according to the source is the diplomatic way of rebuffing the former President’s demand.
“We have received a lot of petitions against the EFCC and some of the petitions are against high ranking personnel of EFCC – not necessarily Ribadu himself. We have to safeguard those documents and ensure that the documents are not destroyed or tampered with. We have received reports that there are attempts to destroy some documents and case files in the custody of EFCC.”
The Times of Nigeria has learnt that one of the petitions that are being investigated by the Presidency is that by convicted fraudster, Chief Emmanuel Nwude.
Nwude had petitioned the Presidency and the police claiming that his properties were “looted by EFCC.” The petition by Nwude listed in very clear details how some of his properties were sold to people connected to EFCC and how some of his properties in the agency’s custody “disappeared.”