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Funmi Iyanda
Lagos, Nigeria
Funmi Iyanda is a multi award-winning producer and broadcast journalist. She is the CEO of Ignite Media and Executive Director of Creation Television
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Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Back to school Ribadu

The ongoing Ribadu school by force drama leaves me strangely unmoved. I have interviewed and interacted with the EFCC chairman and I am convinced that there is no way he could be faking that near martyr fervour for his work and intense dislike for the man above the law. Many have criticised his methods and berated him for undue visibility, calling the EFCC a toothless bulldog. Aside the fact that I have not seen much done in the area of progress by many such arm chair critics, one most also note that hindsight is the luxury of the cowardly. At the time of EFCC creation, did Nigeria not need a crusader of Ribadu’s ilk to not only scare the pants off the stupidly thieving, but also to serve notice to potential protégés, give the citizens hope as well as buy some international goodwill? Could these have been done by “due process”? Ti ile ba njo, se a ma nlo pe alfa ni tabi panapana (when the house is on fire do you call the priest or the fireman?) Ribadu like some of the other hot headed, feather ruffling lights of the last administration were victims of a derailed Obasanjo leadership. Pre third term, Ribadu’s wars were mostly untainted but with Obasanjo’s blinding ambition I feel he was caught in the dilemma of whether to compromise somewhat and keep his job or simply resign. I do believe he meant every word when I asked him on tape once if he would prosecute Obasanjo and he unflinchly said yes. My theory (I like davin co code, go figureJ) is that he wanted to go with the flow, allow a few lapses to consolidate his position and entrench the EFCC constitutionally and then go for the jugular in a new administration. If I am right he and everyone else facing such a quandary must read Leonardo da vinci tryst with the hateful incensuous, Cesare Borgia to know the moment to quit. That said even I do not think he should have quit at that time when it was obvious that the EFCC was somewhat compromised.

Now we will all siddon look, as he goes on study leave, we will study the newish (sebi na EFCC man too) man and developments at the EFCC.

What would be good is to see a building on the success of Ribadu and a plugging of holes where his style fails. That can be achieved not by slogany due process but the sort of reverence for law and attention to details that true due process demands such that we see less and less cases of people submitting themselves for EFCC interrogation but such people simply being picked up by IG/AGF’s office after the EFCC has built a rock solid, airtight criminal case against them. Then we will see less and less sick, cry babies (why don’t they at least fix the prisons whilst in office especially there is such a high likely hood that they will end up there) walking away to freedom after a media trial. The attempt to merge EFCC and ICPC has cringe worthily mouthed by Hon. Henry Seriake Dickson of the kidnapped mum drama is not a bright idea. Let me reproduce what he said, italics are mine.

According to Dickson, “What I believe in as a person is that there must be harmonisation of the anti-corruption agencies or they should be merged. I believe strongly in that. EFCC and ICPC must be merged. We cannot afford the multiplicity of anti-corruption agencies doing the same thing, funded separately both in terms of capital and recurrent expenditure, doing the same thing. It is wasteful. It is best to keep all of them together so that they can concentrate and get better funded.

(So declares a member of the unwasteful national assembly)

EFCC did not initially receive funding and a lot of the funding still comes from outside the national coffers). Dickson, the immediate past Attorney General and Commissioner for Justice in Bayelsa State (under the wasteful Alamieyeseigha and later Governor Jonathan Goodluck), described the EFCC and ICPC as children of circumstance which were created by the administration of former president Olusegun Obasanjo because of the weakened capacity of the police. (and the capacity of the police has significantly improved huh?)
Crime is crime. As a matter of fact, nothing stops the Inspector General of Police from directing anybody or any police officer under him to investigate any case of corruption because the agency that has primary mandate for investigation and prosecution and prevention of crime and protection of lives and property is the Nigeria Police. (yes of course, nothing stops him just like nothing stops us from wondering why this has never happened in recent history and what has changed to imagine it will happen now. Wasn’t Tafa an IG?)
The EFCC and ICPC are children of circumstance because the capacity of the police is so weakened. (I repeat, has this capacity been strengthened, as I recall, the police should have been the primary agency responsible for kidnap such as the case of the honourable’s dear mum, was a special force not needed?) And these special interest in crimes for which the former President thought and I believe rightly, is that we need an agency to specifically tackle. (Have these crimes abated?)
EFCC has done a good job, fantastic job. Ribadu and his men have done fantastic service to this country, which I think we must be grateful for. (Give him a medal, shove him aside, let’s get on with our business) Like everything human, I dont expect them to be perfect. The same goes for the ICPC. But I believe that in this era of due process, (new slogan) in this era of transparency, (aging slogan) there must be institutional transparency (newest slogan) as well. The EFCC and ICPC must be made to function together” the committee chairman added.

On the Acts establishing the agencies, Dickson said the National Assembly had powers to repeal any Act. He said only the CCT would not be left intact because it is a creation of the constitution.
He said:
The Acts will be amended and repealed when necessary. That is why we are a parliament. Parliament can repeal any law. The only law that we cannot repeal on our own is the constitution. We can repeal or amend any law. (Usually, this should be a long tedious process but I suspect it can be fast tracked whenever needed)

”It is a question of amending the EFCC Act and then repealing the ICPC Act and transferring all the functions and duties of the ICPC to EFCC or vice versa and the other one ceases to exist. All the officers will still maintain their offices. The powers are still the same.
The case of Code of Conduct Tribunal is a special one because it is a creation of the constitution and we have no powers on our own to amend the constitution.

The ICPC Chairman, Justice Emmanuel Ayoola, had condemned the proposed merger. Ayoola had said the ICPC would oppose the merger, adding that each of the agencies had clearly stated statutory functions contained in the Act establishing them that would make merger impossible.

And may I add that the usual town criers have read the body language of president Yar'Adua and are giving him the same rhetorical whitewashing they give every president once they cotton on to his ideological leaning and temperament. They design the projects and media profile to match and deceive him into believing the hype. Truth is that they are in charge, owe no loyalty or allegiance to any one but themselves, will lead the man astray and then dump him to design a new slogan to suit the surface temperature of the new man and the nation at that moment in time.

That’s my conspiracy theory and I’m sticking to it.


Anonymous said...

To be honest Funmi! Ribadu had to go. Like you, I believe that he started well with the fraudsters & Tafa but derailed during the 3rd term.

I really lost respect for him recently with his public spat with Dele Momodu on thisday. Momodu raised some valid points in his column (rather unusually) about Ribadu's anti corruption war & EFCC's response was to fabricate lies about Momodu & Ghana.

I thought that was really cheap and Ribadu should have stuck to the issues.

Anonymous said...

This issue just leaves a sour taste in my mouth. With Ribadu's record and the 'new' administration, this was a good opportunity for him to start afresh. Yes he may have been derailed but we all know the man has great potential. Why not explore that instead of simply discarding him.

I think there's so much more politics beneath this than our 'cofferment' will admit. I hope the new guy surpasses Ribadu achievements although I suspect that he wont, simply because of the atmosphere of conspiracy and bad belle in which he was chose.

I have been trying to make up my mind for a while but I think I know now- I don't like Yar'Adua. This lukewarmness is unbecoming. I'd rather he was hot or cold but he is bang in the middle and I would love to spew him out.

Funmi (too) said...

You guys why all this cry about Ribadu. Lets focus on building institutions and not personality cults. If Ribadu dies today, are we now saying that the anti corruption war wont go on? No man is indispensable o jare.

I thought Ribadu was a rabble rouser with a penchant for personal publicity. When he was working at EFCC and OBJ's govt was given him double promotion as a police officer, he was proud to be a member of the force o but when the same police force sent him on a course - He said he is only answerable to the President. Ehn? why accept police double promotion in the past then. This Nigerian double standards is sickening.

twinstaiye said...

No matter the misdemeanor of Ribadu, I still regard him as one of the finest public servant. The man tried. Truth is, in Naija, there is no way you and me can serve this country that you wont ever regret doing so. Tell me who had been a public servant and ended up a saint man in Naija, None I think. Kudos Ribadu for a job well done, you cant satisfy everyone's yardstick of a good man.

Asabe said...

I think Ribadu in his own way has contributed his best and as such people should just appreciate the little good thing we have in Nigeria. I don't understand these people in the house of Asssembly, they are making so much noise about EFCC/ICPC merger when they have not been able to do any form of visible work in the chambers like passing the budget for one. I just think they are afraid of EFCC and what can happen to them cos they are witnesses to what Ribadu/EFCC are capaable of doing to them as well.