Former chairperson of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, Farida Waziri, has hit back at former President Olusegun Obasanjo over Mr. Obasanjo’s criticism of her leadership at the EFCC.
The former EFCC boss accused Mr. Obasanjo of manipulating the EFCC under Nuhu Ribadu to hunt political opponents in Mr. Obasanjo’s effort to secure a third term in office.
The former president had told a publication of the EFCC, Zero Tolerance, that Mrs. Waziri was a disaster to Nigeria’s effort against corruption, questioning her qualification for the appointment in the first place, and accusing , Mrs Waziri of having been appointed on the recommendation of convicted former governor, Delta state, James Ibori.
Mr. Obasanjo said Mrs. Waziri, a retired police officer, who took over as chairperson of EFCC after the removal of Mr. Ribadu, did so much to reverse Mr. Ribadu’s achievements in the war against corruption.
“I know that the woman they brought in to replace Ribadu (Farida Waziri) was not the right person for that job, because I understood that one of those who head-hunted her was James Ibori,” Mr. Obasanjo had told the paper.
“If James Ibori, who is now in a U.K. prison for fraud, head-hunt somebody who will fight corruption in Nigeria, then you can understand what happened,” he added.
When questioned further on his stance on the former anti-graft chief, Mr. Obasanjo said Mrs. Waziri was not adequately qualified to head the EFCC.
“Well, go and look at her track record,” he said. “Go and look at the condition or the qualification; go and look at the type of interaction that anybody holding that job will have with a similar organisation elsewhere; did Waziri have that type.”
“What connection did she have with FBI, what relationship did she have with Metropolitan Police in London. It’s not a picnic,” he added.
In a reaction on Wednesday, Mrs. Waziri warned Mr. Obasanjo to respect his age and watch his comments, and accused him of using Mr. Ribadu, who served under Mr. Obasanjo, to witch-hunt political opponents in a “rabid” pursuit of a third term.
“Former Chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, Dr (Mrs) Farida Waziri,OFR has reminded former President Olusegun Obasanjo that ability to be used to witch hunt political enemies in the rabid pursuit of a third term agenda has never been part of the qualifications for appointment as chairman of the anti-graft agency,” Mrs. Waziri said in a statement on Wednesday.
Mrs. Waziri denied meeting Mr. Ibori ahead of her appointment to the EFCC, a claim she made earlier in a separate interview with the same EFCC publication. Mr. Ibori is serving a jail term in United Kingdom for stealing state funds.
The former EFCC boss said she was fully qualified to have headed to the agency given the stipulations of the law.
She said, “On the issue of qualifications raised by Obasanjo, the qualification for appointment as chairman of the Commission as stipulated in its Establishment Act says that the chairman shall ‘be a serving or retired member of any government security or law enforcement agency not below the rank of Assistant Commissioner of Police or equivalent; and possess not less than 15 years cognate experience’. Late President Yar’adua did not have to alter the Establishment Act when he was appointing me unlike what Obasanjo did”.
“Again for the records, I served in the Nigeria Police force for 35 years and got to the pinnacle of my career before my appointment as EFCC chairman. If Obasanjo’s real age has not blurred his memory, I will like to remind him that I was a Commissioner of Police, Admin Force CID, CP General Investigations, CP Anti-fraud, CP X squad, CP Police Special Fraud Unit where I secured the first conviction in a case of Advance Fee Fraud in Nigerian history. These are all prime investigative organs of the Nigeria Police where I related with other law enforcement agencies including the FBI across the world. I must place on record that at SFU, I did not only relate with FBI, Interpol and Metpolice among others, we carried out joint operations at different times on a number of cases. I have also led the Nigerian delegation to the Interpol headquarters in France.”
“To further expose the height of mischief in the allegations, the past and present chairmen of the EFCC have both worked under me, yet someone can open his mouth to say I am not qualified to head the same agency. This is in addition to my educational qualifications such as a first degree in Law, a Master degree in Law and another Master degree in Strategic studies. I doubt if Obasanjo himself can boast of this level of educational qualifications.
“I will like to warn that those who live in glass house don’t throw stones and as such Obasanjo should not allow me open up on him. Respectable elder statesmen act and speak with decorum.”
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