By Ibrahim Sheme
Appoint me as EFCC chairman? Don’t even think about it! My reason is that all the past chairmen were hounded and or disgraced out of the office. Take a look, sir.
1. NUHU RIBADU:
The first chairman of EFCC was appointed in 2006 by President Obasanjo, and he was sacked by the next President, Umaru Musa Yar’Adua, in December 2007. Soon afterward he was dismissed from the police force for “indiscipline, insubordination, and absence from duty”. To further disgrace him, Ribadu was nominated together with five other police officers and sent on a senior executive course at NIPSS, Kuru, Jos. While on course, he was demoted to the rank of DCP. The Police Service Commission (PSC) said the act of misconduct levelled against him was “improper dressing” when he appeared before the President in plain clothes at NIPSS on 13th November 2008 where others were “properly dressed”.
Then he was accused of instituting legal proceedings against his boss, the Inspector-General of Police; the Attorney-General and the PSC at a Federal High Court in Lagos, “without proper authority from the government”.
Ribadu was also accused of “flagrantly disobeying the order and directive of the IG” to report to the Force Headquarters on 24th November, along with his NIPSS course mates, at the completion of their studies.
Furthermore, he was said to have disregarded his posting order and refused to proceed on the transfer when he was posted to Benin City as deputy commissioner of police in charge of administration.
Sir, recall that following this chain of events, including two assassination attempts, the man had to flee the country for the United Kingdom in early 2009 and lived in exile. He was there until it was clear to him that the Jonathan Administration would not harm him before he returned home and launched an unsuccessful career in politics.
2. FARIDA WAZIRI
She was appointed to replace Ribadu as chairman of EFCC by President Yar’Adua in May 2008. Three and a half years later, she was sacked by the next President, Dr. Goodluck Jonathan, on 23rd November 2011.
Goodluck Jonathan said her removal was “in the interest of the nation” but insisted that he was obliged to keep the details a “state secret.”
However, Mrs Waziri, in her book, ‘Farida Waziri: One Step Ahead’, says Jonathan fired her for probing oil racketeers and that she was victimised for refusing to contribute money for his election in 2011.
3. IBRAHIM LAMORDE
The third EFCC chairman was appointed by Jonathan but was sacked by the next President, Muhammadu Buhari, over allegations that he laundered $5 billion in funds which were recovered from corrupt persons by the EFCC. At the time of his sack, a Senate committee was investigating charges that assets and cash recovered by the agency were diverted.
He denied the charge, saying it was a smear campaign, as the EFCC was prosecuting the man making the allegations.
4. IBRAHIM MAGU
It was President Buhari who appointed the fourth EFCC chairman, and the same Buhari removed him over similar allegations made against Lamorde, i.e. diversion (I’ll call it refilpering) of recovered looted assets. Magu has denied the charge, and the drama is still playing out. No one knows exactly where it will end as he fights dirty with the Attorney-General.
The bottom line is that there seems to be something about that office of EFCC chairman. In Hausa, the appropriate phrase that describes it is: “kamar dai ba a gamawa lafiya a wanga ofis”. Is it jinxed? Or is it simply a question of the “Nigerian factor”? I don’t know.
Nonetheless, I wish the current acting chairman, Mohammed Umar, good luck as he wades through the EFCC waves. He was a year ahead of me at the Department of Mass Communication, BUK, and he has always been a good man. I pray the Senate will confirm his appointment when the President nominates him. Above all, I pray that the next President (it is always the NEXT President!) allows him to go home in one piece, with his integrity intact and unsoiled.
Sheme, is an analyst and veteran journalist based in Abuja