By Fidelis Soriwei:
Strong indications have emerged that the former Chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, Mallam Nuhu Ribadu, who is on self-exile in the United States of America, will return to play a role in Acting President Jonathan‘s government.
Saturday Punch investigation revealed on Friday that Ribadu, who was let off the hook by the Code of Conduct Tribunal on Wednesday, following the Federal Government‘s withdrawal of the non-declaration of asset charge pending against him before the CCT, was being considered to be Jonathan‘s Special Adviser on Anti-Corruption.
This is contrary to earlier widespread rumour in the Presidency that Ribadu was being considered for a ministerial position.
It was gathered that the Acting President may have made up his mind to appoint Ribadu into the position to oversee the anti-corruption agencies, including the Independent Corrupt Practices and other Related Offencies Commission.
Jonathan had promised in a speech broadcast live on radio and television after the National Assembly passed resolutions on February 9 empowering him as the Acting President that renewal of the anti-corruption war would top his agenda.
It was, however, gathered that the decision to make Ribadu, a long time ally of Jonathan, the leader of the anti-corruption campaign is causing serious panic in the EFCC.
If Ribadu assumes office as the SA on Anti-Corruption, he would be strategically positioned to exercise control over the EFCC and ICPC. By this, chairmen of the EFCC, Mrs. Farida Waziri; and the ICPC, Justice Emmanuel Ayoola (rtd); would be taking instructions from his office.
”This would signify a highly probable change of guard in the EFCC,” a source told our correspondent on Friday.
The Federal Government on Wednesday withdrew the single charge against Ribadu pending at the CCT, thus confirming weeks of strong speculations that the period of ostracising and hounding the former EFCC boss was nearing an end.
The Special Assistant to the immediate past Attorney General and Minister of Justice on Litigation, Dr. J.O. Olatoke, entered a Nolle Prosequi for the suit on behalf of the FG.
Ribadu was demoted from the rank of Assistant Inspector General of Police on August 5, 2008 to Deputy Commissioner of Police, with the Police Service Commission saying that his earlier promotion did not follow due process as it was not approved by the PSC.
On December 23, 2008, the former EFCC boss was finally dismissed from the Nigeria Police Force.
Contacted on the telephone on Friday, Ribadu sounded happy with the decision of the FG to withdraw the case against him.
He, however, declined to comment on the speculation that Acting President Jonathan was considering him for appointment, saying that he had not been informed by the Presidency.
”I can tell you that I have not been informed. I don‘t know anything about it. The Presidency has not informed me about such a position,” Ribadu said.
Asked about his possible return date now that the FG has withdrawn the charge against him, Ribadu said, ”I don‘t want to talk about when I am coming back home. I want to be quiet about it.”
But an authoritative source close to him said it was most likely that Ribadu would be appointed to supervise the anti-corruption agencies.
The source dismissed claims that Ribadu planned to return to Nigeria this weekend, stressing that he had a few things to tidy up before returning home. The source further added that Ribadu would not return to the country before next Thursday when the case against him at the CCT would be finally ended.
”Haba! Sunday is too early. Even the matter at the Code of Conduct Tribunal will be coming up for hearing next Thursday. He won‘t be here until the case is resolved. He has a few things to tidy up,” the source added.
Spokesman of the EFCC, Mr Femi Babafemi, however, said there was no panic in the anti-graft agency over Ribadu’s imminent return. “I am not aware of any panic. There is no panic whatsoever. Anything to the contrary is a baseless hype,” he said
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