Nigeria's former corruption czar, Nuhu Ribadu, was publicly demoted yesterday by Nigeria's Police Service Commission. In reality, news of his demotion hit the newsstands almost a month earlier with quoted sources claiming that Ribadu's upcoming demotion was due to his rapid rise through the ranks of the police force and because
"Ribadu has stepped on toes; many officers in the Nigeria Police cannot tolerate his arrogance and confrontational nature. They believed he is so full of himself as he hardly pays compliments to his colleagues and seniors". [sic]Ribadu who was once head of the Economic Finance Crimes Commission (EFCC) and under whose leadership the EFCC recovered over N600 billion in stolen public funds, has now gone from a rank of Assistant Inspector General of Police (apparently, the number two position) to the rank of a Deputy Commissioner. Ordinarily, the demotion of any police officer would not be something to think about for more than a few seconds. But, this is Nigeria and with many things in Nigeria, one must think critically in order to get a grasp of the issues involved. This is one such political incident.
Many will remember that Ribadu was removed from the EFCC and sent to Kuru for 'training' 8 months ago. At the time, Inspector General Mike Okiri and others explained that every police officer of the rank of Assistant Inspector General must go through the training course and suggested that it was merely a temporary transfer. Many Nigerians argued that Ribadu's 'temporary' transfer was simply a way to get rid of the EFCC chief. These fears were clearly correct because during this 'temporary' tansfer, Ribadu was initially replaced by an acting chief. Furthermore, despite the fact that Ribadu was never publicly removed from his post, a new head, Mrs Farida Waziri, was instituted for the Commission.
DEAR MR. PRESIDENT
It was clear from the beginning of President Yar'Adua's administration that Ribadu's days were numbered. The Attorney General, Michael Aondoakaa, publicly criticized and even deliberately interfered in EFCC investigations. The public squabble between Ribadu and Aondoakaa is now of epic proportion. But this is not about Aondoakaa. Not yet., as that is a story for another day. This is about Yardy. How can a President hailed for his committment to being "fair and transparent" sit back and watch the unfair treatment and public humiliation of an individual who, while not being perfect, did his job to the best of his ability in the name of the nation? How can a President who espouses the importance of the 'rule of law' sit back and watch an officer who is now criticized for his many rapid promotions (promotions which were apparently justified based solely on the unprecendented amount that his organization retrieved from corrupt officials and individuals) be transferred from his office under the rouse of 'training', be replaced without officially removing him from his position and then demoted for nothing other than stepping on a few toes while doing a good job? And, I can't help but ask the obvious, but if Ribadu should never have been Assistant Inspector General in the first place, and if everyone knew he would simply demoted, why send him to Kuru for training, in the first place, wasting time and money? And now, Mike Okiro has announced that Ribadu was not eligible (due to the new demoted rank) to take the training course at Kuru, but that he would not ask Ribadu to leave.
Some will argue that my focus on the President in this instance is unnecessary. Maybe they are right, after all, this President has made it clear that he will not interfere in matters outside his office as he made clear in the Ettehgate situation and many others. However, this is a President that has publicly and continuously committed himself to the rule of law, due process and anti corruption, as such, matters involving the EFCC and its former head are clearly under his territory and above all, he is the President of the federation, he has no choice but to get his hands dirty. The least he could have done to appease 'the gods that be' is stress the importance of offering Ribadu a chance to resign from the police force once his training is completed. That way, Ribadu is removed from the police force (which is what certain interests likely want) and everyone can continue with their lives, Ribadu included. Instead, there is this catty engagement and the obvious appearance of revenge against an individual who did the job he was charged to do.
PUNISHMENT FOR A JOB WELL DONE
For all the criticism, I must say that Ribadu did his job. We might have expected him to do much more and to investigate a wider spectrum of people, I raise this to reflect the incessant questions about whether Ribadu protected OBJ's friends. Despite this, I stress that the recovery of N600 billion under his watch was no small feat and will even go as far as claiming that it was unprecedented. In fact, one could actually make the argument that once the EFCC began to investigate those with ties to OBJ, Ibori, OBJ's daughter Obasanjo-Bello, the plug was pulled and the 'wahala' (trouble) began for Nigeria's corruption czar.
And, now, it has become clear that Nigeria's State Security Services (SSS) stormed Kuru in an attempt to arrest Ribadu for 'questioning'. I am no expert on issues involving the SSS, but if they have chosen to approach their fellow officer and national servant in this manner, I strongly advise Ribadu to go talk to whoever wants him interrogated, answer their questions, move your family out of their country and at the end of your course, resign and leave as well, because Nigeria is indeed not a country for brave men. Or women, so the new head of the EFCC should take serious notes and recognize that this could be her in a few years if she does her job right.
Read here for the reactions of hundreds of Nigerians to news of Ribadu's demotion.
Hattip to Rethots, who requested my thoughts on this matter and challenged me to focus on an issue I admittedly ignored. Thank you for the challenge, my brother.
- Ibori, The EFCC & The Future of Nigeria's Anti-Corruption Crusade
- Ribadu's Removal
- Calls For Aondoakaa's Removal Increase
- Sabotage: Aondoakaa vs. Ribadu Et. Al.
- Nigerian Curiosity's Person of 2007
- Political Soap Operas: Nigerian Style
- An EFCC Revival?