UPDATED: Ribadu’s comment on ‘sinking ship’, tyrannical government rattles presidency

Nuhu Ribadu

Mr. Ribadu fires back  at the presidency, describing Mr. Jonathan as a betrayal and Abati as a discredited, fraudulent spokesperson

A remark by the former chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, Nuhu Ribadu, charging the youth to help redeem the “sinking ship” that is Nigeria, has rattled the presidency in a surprising manner, drawing a scathing response that questioned Mr. Ribadu’s stewardship as a corruption fighter and his current political affiliation.

The presidency issued one of its most bellicose statements yet Monday evening as it sought to disparage Mr. Ribadu for his comments about the state of the nation, with his particular reference to the government as tyrannical.

Mr. Ribadu’s comment came on Saturday at a public lecture organized by the Students Representative Council of Ahmadu Bello University, ABU Zaria.

In a lengthy address, the former presidential candidate deplored what he called sectional politics being peddled by politicians, and advocated disregard of institutions or individuals who preach against unity of Nigeria arguing that “unless we put our patriotism away from greed and any undemocratic advocacy, our collective struggle to install a popular government will remain a mission impossible.

He repeatedly urged the students to help evolve a new Nigeria by making good use of the social media for political participation and translating their Internet activism into actual real life participation.

“The tragedy of our democracy is that it is one in which the yearnings of the youth are stamped down in order to perpetuate a tyranny of interests,” Mr. Ribadu said.

“Tyranny it is when a certain slim range of people impose their private interests on the majority; tyranny it is when the agents of change are left on the cliffs of unemployment, poverty, insecurity, substandard education and, worse still, policies destroyed by our heritage of corruptions.”

Lastly, he advised the students to “have in mind that we are now in a sinking ship in which we alone understand, and can reestablish, the hydraulics of our statecraft. Let us have in mind that we are all politicians.”

The comments, which also probed issues troubling the nation, drew a ferocious rebuke from the presidency two days later, in which the government labeled Mr. Ribadu an “ethically-challenged hypocrite”.

In a statement late Monday, presidential spokesperson, Reuben Abati, questioned the former anti-corruption chief’s rationale for turning against a government that welcomed him from a “self-imposed exile” and one which he “willingly served” at a time.

“We find it very sad and utterly deplorable that Nuhu Ribadu has resorted to shameless wolf-crying, the peddling of arrant falsehood and the denigration of the elected government of his fatherland in furtherance of his selfish quest for continued national political relevance after his wholesale rejection by Nigerian voters in 2011,” the statement said.

“There can be no doubt that nothing else but blind ambition for an office for which he is clearly unfit is driving Ribadu to infer that an administration led by a President who welcomed him back to the country after his self-imposed exile, restored his rank in the Nigeria Police to save him from the shame of demotion and converted his dismissal from service to retirement has now become tyrannical and anti-people. We take special note of his ingratitude.”

The presidency seemed far more unsettled by the EFCC’s ex-chairman’s use of the words “sinking ship” and “tyranny”, and the statement issued by Mr. Abati, conveyed that distaste profoundly.

Mr. Abati questioned Mr. Ribadu’s affiliation with the former Lagos state governor, and chieftain of the Action Congress of Nigeria, Bola Tinubu, whom he claimed Mr. Ribadu, as head of the EFCC, dismissed as a crook unfit for holding a public office.

“It is only a shameless man that will turn around and accept to be the political lackey of a man he once openly accused of corruption at various times between 2004 and 2007. Now that he has been used and abused by the undemocratic overlords that reign over the ACN and fearing that he may soon be dumped now that that vehicle is about to be subsumed into the so called All Progressives Congress, Ribadu is desperately seeking fresh relevance.”

In what appears a defense of convicted and latter pardoned former governor of Bayelsa State, Diepreye Alamieyeseigha, Mr. Abati also made reference to Mr. Ribadu’s tenure as pioneer Chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, alleging that the anti-corruption crusader “orchestrated the impeachment of governors with an illegitimate quorum of legislators who had been threatened by the EFCC under his watch.”

Mr. Alamieyeseigha was impeached by the Bayelsa State House of Assembly and subsequently prosecuted and convicted by the EFCC under Mr. Ribadu. He was succeeded as governor by his then deputy, and now president, Goodluck Jonathan. Another governor impeached and prosecuted by Mr. Ribadu led EFCC was Ayo Fayose of Ekiti, who is still facing his corruption charges. Both men are now allies of the presidency with Mr. Alamieyeseigha pardoned by the president; and Mr. Fayose welcomed back into the ruling Peoples Democratic Party.

The statement also conveyed a very sour review of Mr. Ribadu’s leadership at the EFCC, accusing the former chairman of violating the rights of those accused of corruption even when they were yet charged.

“If Nuhu Ribadu wants to talk of tyranny then he should talk of the days when he orchestrated the impeachment of governors with an illegitimate quorum of legislators who had been threatened by the EFCC under his watch,” the statement said.

Mr. Ribadu responded to the presidency’s statement by Mr. Abati as “typical of his increasingly desperate personality” that has been exposed as “a fraud of a presidential spokesman who does not have the simplest level of media literacy”.

“It is unfortunate that he stands on crooked crutches of rehashed falsehoods fabricated by corrupt politicians prosecuted by Mallam Nuhu Ribadu, in his desperate attempt to hold on to his job,” Mr.Ribadu’s spokesperson, Abdulaziz Abdulaziz, said.

“It is a huge gaffe for Abati to charge Ribadu of ingratitude as the latter has more valid stand to make similar accusation having been betrayed after his selfless service to the nation in the Petroleum Revenue Task Force committee. The question of who is ethically challenged, however, is left for Nigerians to answer.”

Read the full address by Mr. Ribadu that angered the presidency here.

Read the presidency’s full statement below:

“The Presidency totally rejects the false, hypocritical and self-serving claim by Mallam Nuhu Ribadu at a lecture in Kaduna on Saturday that Nigeria under President Goodluck Jonathan is a “sinking ship” in which the yearnings of the masses are being neglected by a tyrannical leadership.

“We find it very sad and utterly deplorable that Nuhu Ribadu has resorted to shameless wolf-crying, the peddling of arrant falsehood and the denigration of the elected government of his fatherland in furtherance of his selfish quest for continued national political relevance after his wholesale rejection by Nigerian voters in 2011.

“It is very unfortunate indeed that the once highly respected former EFCC Chairman has now taken to political prostitution and developed a penchant for irresponsible and reckless utterances aimed at improving the electoral fortunes of his new friends and “leader”, who he once famously denounced as a crook who is “not fit to hold public office”.

“There can be no doubt that nothing else but blind ambition for an office for which he is clearly unfit is driving Ribadu to infer that an Administration led by a President who welcomed him back to the country after his self-imposed exile, restored his rank in the Nigeria Police to save him from the shame of demotion and converted his dismissal from service to retirement has now become tyrannical and anti-people. We take special note of his ingratitude.

“If Nuhu Ribadu wants to talk of tyranny then he should talk of the days when he orchestrated the impeachment of governors with an illegitimate quorum of legislators who had been threatened by the EFCC under his watch. It beats the imagination that Nuhu Ribadu, a man who once presided over an EFCC which in 2007 compiled a list of disqualified politicians aspiring for office without a court order or legal backing now has the guts to accuse the man under whom Nigeria has had the most credible elections in this Fourth Republic of being the leader of a “sinking ship”. Can there be a greater tyranny than the tyranny of removing governors via undemocratic means and barring legally entitled persons from contesting elections?

“Nothing else but misguided ambition could have driven Ribadu to urge Nigerian youth to rise up and save the country from an Administration which he willingly served recently, but which he now duplicitously and insincerely claims is “imposing private interests on the majority”.

“It is certainly the height of hypocrisy for Ribadu who built his entire reputation as an anti-corruption crusader by completely disregarding the rule of law and recklessly trampling on the rights of perceived enemies of the government of the day, to now accuse an administration that has consistently upheld the rule of law and respect for fundamental human rights of being tyrannical.

“It is only a shameless man that will turn around and accept to be the political lackey of a man he once openly accused of corruption at various times between 2004 and 2007. Now that he has been used and abused by the undemocratic overlords that reign over the ACN and fearing that he may soon be dumped now that that vehicle is about to be subsumed into the so called All Progressives Congress, Ribadu is desperately seeking fresh relevance.

“Ribadu’s descent into a moral abyss since leaving the exalted office of EFCC Chairman, his equally ethically-challenged new friends and his willingness to vituperate against any person or institution he perceives as a challenge to the fulfillment of his unattainable ambitions, have clearly exposed him for what he truly is – a thoroughly unprincipled attention-seeker whose entire career in the public service was built on bootlicking and doing the bidding of the powers of the day without a care for legality which should have been his primary concern as an officer of the law.

“President Jonathan and his Administration will not be distracted from the diligent implementation of the agenda for national transformation by the falsehoods and vituperations of Ribadu and his new friends.

“Far from being tyrannical as Ribadu falsely alleged in Kaduna, President Jonathan will, as he has consistently done since assuming office, continue to strengthen institutions of democratic governance in Nigeria, uphold the fundamental human rights of all Nigerians including the youth, and protect their right to elect leaders in free, fair and credible elections”.


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