A former chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) Nuhu Ribadu has named some Nigerians he said did all they could to frustrate the nation’s fight against corruption.
Ribadu made the disclosure on Thursday, December 1, when he presented the lead paper at the 2016 annual lecture organised by the Law Chambers of Joe Kyari Gadzama in Abuja, Premium Times reports.
According to Ribadu, foremost lawyer, Ben Nwabueze, former attorney general and minister of justice, Michael Aondoakaa, and his successor at the EFCC, Farida Waziri undermined the country’s efforts to fight against the cancer of corruption.
“I still recall with amazement and shock how some very senior lawyers made it a duty upon themselves to bring down the EFCC and stop the work we were doing. Many of them, like Prof. Ben Nwabueze, SAN, teamed up with politicians to wage a very serious propaganda to discredit the work we were doing,” he said. He said Mr. Nwabueze hindered the fight against graft by personally going to court on many occasions to challenge the powers of the EFCC to fight corruption.
“One thing that also did a serious damage to the war against corruption was the active connivance of some senior lawyers who represented the governors we charged to courts after the 2007 election,”
he said. “It is on record that we charged the former governors of Jigawa, Taraba, Adamawa, Plateau, Enugu, Ekiti, Delta, Abia and Edo states as the first set of ex-governors to face prosecution. However, almost 10 years after most of the cases have not gone anywhere because of deliberate action by lawyers to frustrate the trials,”
he said. Mr. Ribadu said he was shocked that some lawyers who found themselves in government also worked against the fight against corruption. “Take the case of Mr. Michael Aondoakaa, whose most cardinal agenda as the AGF seemed to be destroying EFCC by every means possible and frustrating all the cases.
“In that regard he attempted to take over the prosecutorial powers of the commission, which would have rendered the EFCC into a toothless bulldog. But of course we resisted,” he said. He said after Farida Waziri replaced him as the chairman of the EFCC, Mr. Aondoakaa found a partner in her. Mr. Ribadu said Mrs Waziri “inflicted serious damages on the EFCC from which the commission is still struggling to recover”.
He said following the appointment of Waziri, corrupt practices that were unheard of became widespread in the Commission and outside lawyers were brought in to handle very important cases that sometimes were turned into avenues of making money.
He cited one of such cases as the Halliburton scandal. “We did all the work and took the investigation to a very advanced stage, but the case was handed over to private lawyers who connived with some officials to feather their nests from it.
“The lawyers ended up earning more than even the government, to the anguish of those diligent workers who built the case. That was a very unprofessional practice and against global best practice,” he said. He also said that the United States and the UK who had similar cases did not involve any private lawyer to handle it for them.
“All these are today pieces of history but as the saying goes; truth is constant while lies fizzle out,” he said. Mr. Ribadu also listed some Nigerian lawyers that he said contributed immensely to the fight against corruption in the country.
He said Gani Fawehinmi, Femi Falana, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo (SAN) Mr. Tayo Oyetibo (SAN) Mr. Rotimi Jacobs (SAN) and Chief Kanu Agabi, (SAN) supported the EFCC by offering to take on our cases for free. Meanwhile, President Muhammadu Buhari has again described the level of corruption that had taken over Nigeria’s government at the time he took over in 2015.
The president spoke when he receiving the letter of credence of the United States Ambassador to Nigeria, Mr William Stuart Symington, at the State House, Abuja on Thursday, December 1. Buhari said he took over a country riddled with monumental corruption adding that it was now very difficult to salvage the country because of the actions of previous administrations.