The Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project, (SERAP) has criticised the decision by the inspector-general of Police, Mr. Mike Okiro, to send Mallam Nuhu Ribadu, chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), on a one-year compulsory course at the National Institute for Policy and Strategic Studies (NIPSS), in Kuru, Jos, Plateau State, describing it as “illegal and politically motivated”.
The Nigeria Police authorities on Thursday, announced the posting of Mr Ribadu, insisting that the course would help develop him for challenges ahead, and that this was not influenced by any political consideration.
But SERAP, in a statement dated 28 December, 2007 and signed by its executive director, Adetokunbo Mumuni which was made available to LEADERSHIP WEEKEND, stated, “Coming at a time when the EFCC is going after the mighty and powerful in the society, and those very close to the Yar’Adua government, it is difficult to escape the conclusion that the purported posting is implicitly a removal, done in bad faith and politically motivated. But the posting also raises important legal questions, and casts doubts on the expressed commitment of the Yar’Adua administration to the fight against corruption in the country.”
According to the group, “The EFCC Act is very clear that only the president, and not the inspector-general of Police can remove the head of the EFCC, but even then, this is conditional on the terms of the Act, among which are the inability to discharge the functions of his office, misconduct, or when the removal is justified on public interest grounds. It would appear in this instance that the posting of Ribadu is done outside the EFCC legal framework and therefore, illegal.
“While no single individual is indispensable in the fight against corruption, the manner and timing of the posting of Ribadu is not consistent with the professed commitment of the Yar’Adua government to the basic tenets of the rule of law and transparency. It is also an affront to the anti-corruption provisions of the 1999 constitution and the UN Convention against corruption, which Nigeria has ratified,” the group added.
According to the group, “The UN Convention obligates states’ parties to strengthen measures to prevent and combat corruption more efficiently and effectively, and to ensure that national anti-corruption institutions such as the EFCC are granted the necessary independence, as well as human and material resources, to enable them carry out their functions effectively and free of any undue influence. Continuing executive interference would prevent the full implementation of these provisions in reality.”
The group asked the Yar’Adua government to re-commit itself to the fight against corruption, and publicly assure Nigerians that he would genuinely tackle political corruption and address the impunity of perpetrators in the country.
“Because corruption is well entrenched in Nigeria, fighting it involves, most importantly, being ready and able to confront powerful interest groups that clearly benefit from the status quo and resist any such initiatives. Removing the head of an important anti-corruption institution on flimsy pretexts and at a time when the fight against corruption has gained momentum would send a wrong message to everyone in the country that it is virtually certain that the corrupt, especially those close and influential within the government, would not be punished,” the group concluded.