Ribadu alleges death threat
Former Chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) Nuhu Ribadu has pointedly accused the Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice Michael Aondoakaa (SAN) of threatening his life.
Ribadu said yesterday that his refusal to appear before the Code of Conduct Tribunal in Abuja over allegations that he did not declare his assets while in office was because Aondoakaa was threatening his life.
The Code of Conduct Bureau had recommended the former EFCC chairman for trial over the allegation and the tribunal had summoned him to defend himself.
Under the Fifth Schedule to the 1999 Constitution, public officers are required to declare their assets before they assume office.
Speaking through his lawyer, Mr. Femi Falana, Ribadu alleged that Aondoakaa had already sent assassins after him.
“He wanted to stay for this trial but for the fear of his life, he had to travel back. If your lordship wants this case to go on, we want an order because already the Attorney-General of the Federation has sent a manhunt on him,” he said.
Tribunal Chairman, Justice Constance Momoh, had fumed over Ribadu's short visit to Nigeria without staying back to appear before the tribunal.
Ribadu had sneaked into the country about two weeks ago and emerged at the residence of the late legal icon, Chief Gani Fawehinmi, to commiserate with his family over his death.
At yesterday's proceedings, Justice Momoh told Falana that the tribunal was angry that Ribadu came into the country on September 10 to pay his respects to the late Gani and still refused to honour the tribunal's summons.
Momoh said: “The tribunal is feeling slighted; we just have to take our cool.”
Falana, however, told the tribunal chairman that when his client was in the country, he had wanted to stay back to answer the tribunal until he got intelligence report that some forces in the government wanted him dead.
According to him, “he (Ribadu) wants your lordship to make an order to guarantee him of his security and liberty.”
He added that before Ribadu travelled abroad, two attempts were made on his life in Abuja and Jos.
Falana further disclosed that the ex-EFCC boss was assisted out of the country by sympathisers and that he wanted to be alive to face his trial.
But the tribunal chairman quipped in, asking Falana, “What has Ribadu done to warrant anybody to be after his life?”
Ribadu was expected to appear before the tribunal yesterday to take his plea over the allegation of non-declaration of his assets in office levelled against him.
The tribunal chairman had earlier drawn the attention of the various counsel to the court's record where the tribunal held that if Ribadu failed to appear before it, the court would allow the prosecution counsel, Ahmed Kyari, to re-introduce his application for bench warrant of arrest on the former EFCC chairman.
Falana, however, urged the tribunal not to go on with the case as he had filed an appeal before the appellate court in respect of the matter, adding that due to the absence of the AGF's lawyer, the matter had been adjourned till December 16 by the appellate court.
Efforts made by the prosecution counsel to re-introduce his application for warrant of arrest on Ribadu were thwarted by Falana, who warned the three-member tribunal not to do anything that would put it at conflict with a higher court since there was a matter on the same suit pending before an appellate court.
He said: “The tribunal cannot and will not make any order until the Court of Appeal dispenses the application before it. To do otherwise will be a fait accompli.”
The tribunal has, however, fixed October 2 for hearing of the applications before it.
Meanwhile, Aondoakaa has reacted to the allegation by Ribadu that he was after his life.
Speaking through his Chief Press Secretary, Taiye Adeyemi, the AGF dismissed the allegation, saying Ribadu was just trying to divert attention from his trial.
Akinyemi said: “The allegation is diversionary. Nothing would have warranted the AGF to be after Ribadu's life. This is the first time ever in this country that the rule of law would be employed in the conduct of government business and the AGF should be praised for that, and not for a lawyer of Falana's status to be making such wild, unfounded, unwarranted and malicious allegation.
“Ribadu is a respected Nigerian and if he has a case against him he should come and face it, instead of engaging in this kind of diversionary tactics.”