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November 07, 2006

Driving Nuhu Ribadu out of Town

In Tondu's Naija Chronicles by Aonduna Tondu (New York, USA) --- The EFCC is a good example of a noble idea gone awry. Faced with the rabble-rousing histrionics of its mercurial head called Nuhu Ribadu and the glaring evidence that both the outfit and its chairman have become tools in the service of a dictator and his anti-people fantasies, Nigerian democrats and those who wish our country well must be alarmed at the prospect of letting Ribadu and the contraption he pretends to lead continue to desecrate our democratic spaces with his resort to violent and illegal tactics that clearly are an affront to the sensibilities of decent, law-abiding citizens.

If the truth be told, Nuhu Ribadu has constituted himself into an uncouth loudmouth with a penchant for mafia-style antics. As things now stand, Ribadu’s EFCC has joined the police and the SSS in particular as one of the notable instruments of state being deployed in a criminal and outlaw fashion by His Majesty to constrict Nigeria’s democratic environment with an aim to perpetuating the status quo – a sinister proposition that cannot be in the short or long-term interest of the average Nigerian.

Yet, history has taught us that the type of fool’s paradise being sought after by Obasanjo and his allies is the ultimate challenge or danger that a community can be confronted with. And how well members of that community respond to such a threat to their collective patrimony is bound to determine the course of future development in the society. That is why the next time Ribadu descends on any community with his fellow thugs in the furtherance of the script laid down by his political master, all men and women of goodwill should rise and chase the rascals out of town for the likes of Ribadu and Obasanjo cowardly hide behind the tapestry of pseudo-constitutionalism in order to prosecute their petty agenda of corrupt self-preservation and political partisanship.

There is no gainsaying that Nigerians who have been bruised by decades of corrupt practices on the part of their so-called leaders are yearning for good and morally-conscious representatives. Those who tell them they will fight the plague of 419 and do actually commit themselves to the pledge should become instant heroes. But the moment the initial mission is hijacked and its agents conscripted for unwholesome purposes as is the case in the current witch-hunting and grandstanding the EFCC’s Ribadu has graduated into, Nigerians should not hesitate to call the apostates and their supporters to order. Beyond the obviously selective posture of his relentless, if reckless hounding of figures who in the main are considered as political enemies or associates of enemies of Obasanjo, there is the worrisome question of process, namely, the evidently illegal manner Ribadu, an agent of the Aso Rock tyrant, is going about his supposed business of fighting corruption. The lack of due process that keeps manifesting itself in the EFCC’s actions is troubling and raises more questions as to the commitment of Obasanjo and his henchmen to the sustenance of democracy in Nigeria. As I did stress elsewhere, the corrupt and illegal use of state structures in the so-called anti-corruption campaign is doing more harm than good. The lack of trust in government processes should be a constant source of worry for all. Already, the corrupt use of Ribadu, his EFCC and other fixtures, has ensured that governance at the federal level has been paralyzed for some time now. This is taking its toll on the Nigerian psyche. The Nigerian nation is being held hostage by loathsome types with a disdain for democratic governance. These unpatriotic characters cannot be allowed to have their way. The stakes are just too great for the country.

While Nuhu Ribadu pontificates and noisily denounces politicians and other individuals not considered as politically willing to play ball with Obasanjo, he studiously keeps mute or, worse, obfuscates by wallowing in meanders of inconsistency and duplicity when confronted with the sleazy and thieving conduct of his master and the cabal he belongs to. For those genuinely seeking after the truth, it must be mentioned that a recent document written by retired Col. Abubakar Umar on the dishonest and hypocritical way the anti-corruption war is being pursued by Ribadu and his gang should be considered as a critical part of any intelligence on the state of the nation under the regime of Baba Aremu. In his sweeping and disparaging remarks against state governors at the National Assembly recently, Ribadu was careful to leave out mentioning where much of the corruption in government offices takes place, namely, the presidency of Matthew Okikiolakan Obasanjo. And one should not ignore the fact that Obasanjo’s family members and henchmen like Bode George, Tony Anenih, and Ahmadu Ali have cases to answer regarding their respective roles in the handling of public money. Surely, Ribadu cannot be taken seriously. He has developed into a quantity of tragic proportions. And the tragic posture of which Ribadu and the EFCC are now an embodiment has once more been on display, this time, in places like Ekiti and Plateau.

In a show of shame reminiscent of the ‘coups d’état’ in Bayelsa and Oyo, Nuhu Ribadu has arrested sitting legislators of Ekiti and Plateau states, supposedly on charges of corruption. These legislators have virtually been held incommunicado. They have been intimidated and forced to start impeachment proceedings against their respective state governors whom Ribadu and his boss consider as embezzlers. It is said that sometimes tragedy presents itself as farce. This was the case a few days ago when, discarding any pretense of legality and the rule of law, Ribadu’s EFCC dragged eight members of the Plateau state legislature whom they had been holding to Jos, under heavy police escort,. Six of the legislators, out of a 24-member House, were forced to start impeachment proceedings against the state governor, Joshua Dariye! This smacks of utmost disdain for constitutionality and the Nigerian people. This is how The Guardian reported the tragedy in Jos: “EIGHT of the 24-member Plateau State House of Assembly yesterday breezed into the Assembly Chambers and declared that they were holding a valid legislative meeting.
Heavily guarded by over 400 policemen and officials of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), the eight legislators proceeded to pass resolutions.

First, they declared the Assembly Speaker, Mr. Simon Lalong, impeached and appointed a replacement, Mr. Michael Dapialong, who represents the Quaan Pan South Constituency of the state.
They thereafter passed a resolution serving an impeachment notice on the state Governor, Chief Joshua Chibi Dariye.

The eight legislators came from the custody of the EFCC where they were being detained. Immediately after the resolutions, the eight legislators went back to Abuja with the Assembly mace.
As the eight legislators were meeting, there were sporadic gunshots in the premises by the police to scare away some supporters of the governor who wanted to force themselves into the Assembly chambers. The policemen overpowered the demonstrators who were mainly women…” A Nigerian newspaper caption has aptly described the violent attempt by the EFCC and the police, acting on orders from Obasanjo, to remove Governor Dariye, as “gun-point democracy”.

Irrespective of what the state executives in both Ekiti and Plateau are alleged to have done, due process should be meticulously applied in their cases. To do otherwise would mean the courting of disaster. It is dictatorship of the Nazi kind. The illegal abduction and detention of state legislators only to force them to remove governors should be condemned in the strongest of terms. The hand of the Imperial Ruler from Otta in all this is quite palpable. Ribadu is a mere agent, a subaltern taking his orders from none other than his political master. The scenario is a familiar one. It is the tale of Aremu as puppet master and Ribadu as a spineless puppet at his beck and call, an acolyte programmed to do the bidding of his ‘big oga’. It is a potent statement that we have in Nigeria today an individual laying claim to the Nigerian presidency who is a figure of scatology par excellence. His obsession with perfidy is at once numbing and unprecedented in the history of our nation.

Nigeria has never had it so bad in a supposed democracy. Those who rightly condemn the recent coup in Thailand should also reject what Obasanjo and his agents in the police, the SSS and the EFCC are doing in the name of a supposed anti-corruption campaign. In either case, allegations of corruption against public officials are used as a pretext for a military-style destitution of constituted authority.

It is apparent to discerning minds that the main objective of Ribadu’s gangster politics is to as much as possible seek to discredit Obasanjo’s perceived enemies ahead of the crucial primaries of the various political parties. The escalation of what is tantamount to political thuggery on the part of Ribadu and his fellow foot-soldiers is no doubt Baba’s revenge on opponents of his failed ‘term elongation’ gambit. But the appropriate answer to the type of reckless impunity symbolized by Ribadu and his mentor, the tyrant at Aso Rock, should be an uncompromising repudiation of what these cavemen stand for in the present scheme of things. Obasanjo and his éminence grise are not interested in nurturing democracy in Nigeria. Their actions speak volumes. Ribadu should be reminded that he is a nonentity, a moral nuisance willingly embracing the vile and criminal tactics of a discredited ruler. That there are consequences. Ribadu and his partners in crime must be resisted. Citizens should rise and fight them with every means at their disposal.

To retreat in the face of Obasanjo’s ignoble assault on the nation’s democratic mores and decency is to invite lawlessness and the enthronement of mediocrity and rascality as tools for societal relevance. Ribadu must resign. That is if he has integrity. You cannot fight corruption in an atmosphere vitiated by the selfish agenda of those charged with prosecuting the campaign. A government that has proved through its sordid track record that it shuns due process and the rule of law is not in a position to fight corruption. The proof of this is the current regime’s numerous contradictions like the thick cloud of sleaze at the presidency. What this means is that neither Obasanjo nor his agent, Ribadu, can transparently and effectively lead the campaign against corruption. Only a democracy-conscious – as in the respect of human rights – government can be expected to show leadership in that regard. Today, Nuhu Ribadu and his EFCC have become part and parcel of the corruption problem in Nigeria. In order to restore a semblance of sanity and credibility to the anti-corruption fight, Ribadu must go. Ribadu lacks the sober mien expected of a government official in his position. In a legerdemain, he dismisses legitimate criticism even as he indulges in intemperate, partisan pronouncements on critical national issues whereby the unmistakable message is the unwarranted denunciation of Obasanjo’s political foes. The next democratically elected government should seek to prosecute the likes of Ribadu and their crimes against Nigerians. In a new and determined anti-corruption drive to be undertaken after May 29, 2007, the support of the people will be crucial. That support will be predicated on transparency, due process, trust and goodwill on the part of all concerned, ingredients which are sadly lost in a maze of Ribadu’s rabble-rousing and gangsterism.

Aonduna Tondu.

New York
E-mail :

Posted by Administrator at November 7, 2006 10:07 AM


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