Reuters: Nigeria’s respected former anti-corruption chief Nuhu Ribadu said he is ready to return home after over a year in voluntary exile, and would be willing to serve under Acting President Goodluck Jonathan if asked.
Nigerian authorities dropped a legal case against Ribadu last week, potentially paving the way for his return to help Jonathan fight graft in one of the world’s most tainted countries.
“Of course I would like to come back, but it was difficult because my life was threatened,” Ribadu told Reuters. “The threat is now gone. I believe it is time for me to come back,” he in a telephone interview from Washington, DC on Monday.
Ribadu won international praise for his arrests of suspects and seizures of assets as the first chief of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).
But he also made enemies for pursuing cases against powerful state governors and was fired in late 2007 soon after President Umaru Yar’Adua took power. He fled Nigeria for Britain and the United States in January 2009, saying his life was in danger.
Ribadu said he has not spoken directly with Jonathan, who assumed executive powers from ailing President Yar’Adua two months ago, and has not been offered a specific government position.
He said he would not return to the EFCC or the police as he believed he had been unfairly dismissed by both agencies. But he remained open to other job opportunities, especially those that would help to get Nigeria’s anti-graft efforts back on track.
“Nothing took place in the last two years in the fight against corruption,” Ribadu said. “The respect we gained with the rest of the world has been eroded. It will take time to rebuild it.”
Local newspapers have reported that Jonathan was considering Ribadu as his special adviser on fighting corruption.
Ribadu said he could be back in Nigeria within weeks as his fellowship at the Centre for Global Development, a Washington-based think tank, was winding down.
Endemic corruption in Africa’s most populous nation is a major disincentive to foreign investors, who view it as an indicator of inefficient public spending and therefore a major brake on economic growth.
Yar’Adua came to power in May 2007 promising zero tolerance for graft. But the removal of Ribadu and lack of progress in prosecuting politically sensitive cases have done little to boost confidence, not least among European donors who have poured $35 million into the EFCC. – Reuters
Meanwhile, the former Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) Chairman Mallam Nuhu Ribadu last night denied claims that he fraudulently benefited from the assets seized from some convicts.
Ribadu said contrary to EFCC’s claims, he did not benefit from the assets seized from former Bayelsa Sate Governor Diepreye Alamieyeseigha, former Inspector-General of Police (IGP) Tafa Balogun and businessman Emmanuel Nwude.
In a statement by his lawyer, Charles Musa, Ribadu denied supervising the sale of any property belonging to Alamieyeseigha, adding that the disposal of the former governor’s property was done at the instance of his successor, Mrs. Farida Waziri.
Ribadu noted that neither he nor any EFCC official had a hand in the disposal of Nwude’s assets.
He said: “It is a sad illustration of the collapse of competence at the EFCC that the agency could still speak of some Emmanuel Nwude’s property, knowing that these were proceeds of crime and that a court gave an order of forfeiture against him.
“For the avoidance of doubt, the truth of the matter was that the court ordered the disposal of Nwude’s property as restitution to the rightful owners of the stolen assets and the disposal was handled by lawyers to the complainants.”
The former EFCC boss said there was also a court order to recover the assets of Balogun, adding that the process of disposal was again handled by some of the leading estate firms in the country.
“Mr. Ribadu did not partake in the asset disposal process and did not know those who bought the property,” Musa said.