The former president, Obasanjo, says Mr. Ribadu’s fearlessness nearly cost him his life.
Former President Olusegun Obasanjo has spoken of how efforts by the former chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, Nuhu Ribadu, to rid Nigeria of corruption, created enemies for him.
Mr. Obasanjo said Mr. Ribadu’s zeal as the pioneer head of the anti-corruption unit was ruthless enough to attract a lot of enemies for him. On one occasion, he said, Mr. Ribadu was poisoned.
Mr. Obasanjo said he doesn’t fear those enemies. “It is rather them that fear me,” he said.
The former president was speaking after a presentation on “Illicit Financial Flow and Governance of Natural Resources” delivered by Mr. Ribadu at the 3rd Tana High Level Forum on Security in Africa in Badir Dar, Ethiopia, on Saturday.
Mr. Obasanjo is the chairperson of the Tana Forum.
Mr. Ribadu led the EFCC between 2003 and 2007. He won acclaim for his effort against corruption as he clamped down on very senior officials of government, including former governors.
His record is widely regarded as the best yet for the commission, although he has also faced allegations of taking on only those opposed to Mr. Obasanjo. He was replaced after Mr. Obasanjo left office.
Speaking at the conference in Ethiopia, Mr. Obasanjo said he made it clear to Mr. Ribadu that there should be no sacred cows in the fight against corruption. Mr. Obasanjo said he was investigated alongside his late wife, Stella.
He spoke about how a serving minister who was his senior in secondary school, was indicted and prosecuted by the EFCC. At that point, he said, “there was no issue of senior again”.
Mr. Obasanjo said the former EFCC chairman was once poisoned and he considered that a very serious “a matter of life and death”.
In his remarks, the Prime Minister of Ethiopia, Hailemariam Desalegn, thanked Mr. Ribadu for his presentation, which he said highlighted many good things about Nigeria different from what is portrayed in the media.
In his presentation, Mr. Ribadu offered measures African countries should follow to tackle illicit financial flow and repatriate money already illegally taken out of the African countries.
He said what Africa needs is honest and committed leaders who will set examples with themselves by eschewing corruption and close in avenues of illicit financial flow.
According to him, it is the seriousness demonstrated by the political leadership that will convince other foreign countries to work with them towards recovering looted monies stashed abroad.