Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) chair Nuhu Ribadu may proceed to the Nigerian Institute of Policy and Strategic Studies (NIPSS), Kuru, near Jos, Plateau State, in two weeks, it was learnt yesterday.
The public outcry over his being sent to NIPSS is yet to end. The Trade Union Congress (TUC) and a coalition of pro-democracy groups in the North, yesterday described it as a ploy to remove him from the EFCC.
Besides, TUC said Ribadu should be allowed to probe former President Olusegun Obasanjo and his daughter Iyabo Obasanjo-Bello.
A police source told The Nation that Ribadu, who is expected to receive his letter of posting today, will be leaving for Kuru in the third week of January.
The source said Ribadu would leave for NIPSS after handing over to the commission’s Director of Operations, Ibrahim Lamorde on January 15 or 16.
Lamorde is to act as EFCC chairman.
Many names have come up in the calculations for Ribadu’s likely successor, but a source dismissed them all last night, saying since Ribadu had not been removed, there was no need to search for a successor.
“He’s only being sent on a course. So, the talk of a likely successor does not arise,” the source said.
TUC, in a statement by its Secretary-General, Chief John Kolawole, called for Ribadu’s reinstatement.
The statement said Ribadu should be allowed to prove his neutrality in the war against corruption by probing former President Olusegun Obasanjo and his daughter, Senator Iyabo Obasanjo-Bello before leaving EFCC.
Kolawole argued that Ribadu’s ouster at this time would cause a setback for the commission, considering that he has acquired experience on the job.
“The EFCC is currently faced with unprecedented cases of corrupt practices involving several key players in the last administration, including former governors and former President Olusegun Obasanjo. The timing is therefore not the best to dispense away with him, given the experience he has gained since the past four years.
“If anything, Mallam Ribadu should be given the opportunity to demonstrate to the world that he is truly neutral in the anti-corruption game by probing former President Olusegun Obasanjo and his Senator daughter.
The Northern pro-democracy groups threatened to expose those it said were behind Ribadu’s travails, if the EFCC chair was not left alone.
The groups flayed his posting to Jos, saying his life may be in danger there, considering that he is prosecuting the former governor of Plateau State, Chief Joshua Dariye.
“We must admit that Chief Dariye himself may be considered harmless but certain elements both in Plateau and elsewhere may likely move their arsenal to Jos to settle scores with Ribadu,” said the groups.
The groups, which comprise Northern Coalition for Democracy and Justice, Northern Youths Democratic Movement, Coalition of Nigerians Against Corruption and the Movement for the Protection of Peoples Rights, said at the end of their emergency meeting in Kaduna yesterday, that they were in possession of incontrovertible evidence of those behind the clandestine plot to silence the former EFCC boss.
Apart from the action of Okiro, which they vehemently condemned, the group claimed that there were some unseen forces out to hijack the administration of President Umaru Musa Yar’Adua, unknown to him (Yar’Adua).
For instance, the group said the plot to ease out Ribadu was hatched at the London Paddington Hotel in August last year by a cabal working to hijack Yar’Adua’s government and, by extension, dismantled the anti-corruption machine.
“The latest action of the IG is suspect and facts on ground suggest he is part of the larger strategy to weaken the anti-corruption war in Nigeria,” the group stated in a communique jointly signed by Mallam Umar Farouk, chief convener and leader of the Coalition of Nigerians Against Corruption, Mr. Yunana Shibkau, Director of Publicity of the Northern Coalition for Democracy and Justice, Abubakar Katsina, Director of Information and Strategy, Northern Youths Democratic Movement and Chidi Ogbuagbu, Secretary , Movement for the Protection of Peoples Rights.
According to the group, those behind the clandestine plot to weaken the anti-corruption crusade were the dubious politicians and “the fifth columnists” now working to hijack this administration from the right path unknowing to President Yar’Adua.
“They are desperate to establish economic empire, protect looted wealth and take control of the crude oil lifting business. It is the cabal that are vanishing Nuhu Ribadu so they can have a field day. They are certain that with Ribadu as the head of the EFCC, they are not going to succeed and the law must take its full course. He refused to be compromised with them,” the communiqué said.
– The Nation