Former Chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, Nuhu Ribadu, speaks with JOHN ALECHENU about his recent return to the All Progressives Congress, the anti-graft war, and how Peoples Democratic Party leaders approached him recently to be the party's national chairman
You recently returned to the All Progressives Congress, a political party you participated in founding. Why did you leave in the first place?
I joined politics during the 2010/ 2011 elections. By 2014, we were actively engaged; we almost succeeded in setting up the All Progressives Congress. At that time, I decided to go back home and start my politics at the local level in Adamawa State. Like they say, 'all politics is local' and it makes sense for you to concentrate at the local level for you to see how you will build your political career. I paid more attention to that. In 2014, a lot of people moved into the APC after it was formed. Some of us who formed the party, opened the gates for others to come in. In Adamawa State, PDP members moved into APC and I don't need to mention names; they were well known then. Even at the time of setting up the party executives at the ward, local government and the state levels, those who were in the PDP in Adamawa, especially members of the state House of Assembly, played significant roles. They were the ones that, more or less, brought (together) all the officials at the ward, local government and state levels. The same set of people turned against the then APC government headed by Governor (Murtala) Nyako who also moved (from PDP to APC). His movement was genuine unlike so many others. They all turned against Nyako. Those who set up the party structure, especially members of the state Assembly and some godfathers, ganged up and removed Nyako. Those of us who were the original members of the APC did not like it and we fought in the best way we could without success. We knew that we were heading for trouble; we knew it was the beginning of crisis for the party in the state. Later, the same people who took over the APC from us divided themselves into two dominant political parties in the state. One group took over the PDP, while another took over the APC. It was funny and sad. At that time, I felt a lot more comfortable running away from those who were in charge because of what they did. It caused a lot of confusion for me as an individual I must admit.
Were there conditions attached to your defection to the Peoples Democratic Party as of the time you did? If so, what were they?
No. If there were to be conditions. I should be the one giving the conditions instead, because I was invited to join the party. As of that time, those who invited me meant well for the state and also meant well for the country. They felt I could help in doing things correctly. As of that time, the decisions I made were in the best interest of my state, my family and my country. There was no other way, especially when a governor was just removed and there was so much confusion. It is not like everybody in PDP is bad just as it is not everybody in the APC that is good. Everywhere you have a combination of good and bad people. If that is the case, sometimes you look at those you can do business with. Nobody gave me conditions.
Are there conditions attached to your return to the APC?
One of the reasons I returned was that things have changed fundamentally. Those things that happened in Adamawa have been reversed. We are going through a healing process and the original people who are the progressives are coming back together and some important steps have been taken. For example, the recent court ruling which declared the removal of Nyako as wrong and illegal, is a good thing for me personally and for all of us who stood against his impeachment then.
The party today has good leadership. There is a change in the way things are being done in our country. We have a Federal Government that is focused and fighting lawlessness. Those are som
It is not that we have done badly but Nigerians continue to ask for more. We are impatient people - which is a good thing. We make a lot of noise when we disagree with some things. If you ask me today, there is no country in the world that is fighting corruption like Nigeria. Why? I can tell you from the results of the work done. There is no anti-corruption institution or agency in the world that is handling cases like the EFCC. There is no anti-corruption agency or institution in the world that is doing the recovery that the EFCC is doing today. There is no anti-corruption agency in the world today that is taking cases to court - which is what anti-corruption agencies are supposed to do. I think these are the statistics we must accept and recognise the fact that we are not doing badly. The volume is large; corruption is all over the world; all countries have it. You will be shocked if you know what is happening in other African countries. The difference is that we are doing something about it. There were periods we were a little bit low but later came up. Right from the time President Obasanjo started the war against corruption, I think we started doing very well. We la!d a solid foundation and then the EFCC is a good example of an agency that has a good foundation and which will continue to do its work. We have our own low points but we also have results to show for the work.Ibrahim Magu (current EFCC boss) is doing a good job. We have many institutions with modern tools of fighting corruption in Nigeria that are far more than many countries of the world. We have institutions like: NEITI (Nigerian Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative) promoting transparency and accountability in the extractive industry; it is solid and we have good hands managing it. We have the Bureau of Public Enterprises. We also have the Bureau of Public Procurement. We have the SFU (Nigeria Police Special Fraud Unit) and the NDIC (Nigeria Deposit Insurance Corporation). But we can do better; we need to have a national strategy to address the problem of corruption. We need to have a consensus (anti-graft system) that the executive, the legislature and the judiciary will buy into and understand what is needed to be done.
Do you subscribe to calls for a special court to handle corruption related issues?
I have always been against doing ad hoc initiatives to address a big problem. Based on my own experience, I discovered that they do not work. I participated in the (Military) tribunals - Miscellaneous Offences Tribunals, Recovery of Public Property Tribunal; all these were special courts and all our works came to nothing because ultimately, they could not fit into the regular court system that we operate in Nigeria. So, and all the cases were thrown out and almost all the recoveries that were done went to waste. If every time you are confronted with a problem you create a court, you are going to have many that you will not be able to manage. We had anti-robbery tribunals; why are our courts not working? Why? They are the same human beings, the same Nigerians, why can't we make them work? If we want our courts to work, they will work. There is no reason to create another one and abandon what is already in existence. Today, you say, Rent Tribunal, tomorrow you say Industrial Court, and day after tomorrow another one; when are we going to end that? This doesn't happen in other places where courts are working. Why don't we concentrate and make our existing courts work? During my days as the chairman of the EFCC, the courts worked. I had more than 90 per cent of success in all the cases I took to the court because in the first instance, we worked hard at the EFCC. By the time we build a case and it went to court, it was a solid case that would stand the test of prosecution. We were also honest and everybody knew that we did not take money and if I didn't take money and if the case went to court, chances were that no one would take money. We were gett