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Obasanjo says Ibori recommended Waziri for EFCC job

By The Rainbow

Raises fresh charge against Atiku on corruption Former President Olusegun Obasanjo has again stirred the hornet's nest with disparaging appraisal of the former Chairman of Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) described her appointment

Obasanjo, according in an exclusive interview he granted Zero Tolerance, a magazine produced by the EFCC, described Mrs Waziri's as a wrong step in the country's fight against corruption.

The former president, whose administration established the country's two main anti-corruption agencies, the EFCC and the Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission (ICPC), said he was aware that the former Delta State Governor, James Ibori, played a major role in Waziri's appointment.

The former president said her appointment as slowed down the fight against corruption in the country.

'I know that the woman they brought in to replace Nuhu Ribadu (Waziri) was not the right person for that job, because I understood that one of those who head-hunted her was Ibori.'

'If Ibori, who is now in a United Kingdom (UK) prison for fraud, head-hunt somebody who will fight corruption in Nigeria, then you can understand what happened,' he added.

He challenged the publication to 'go and look at her track record.'

'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 the FBI, what relationship did she have with Metropolitan Police in London. It's not a picnic,'Obasanjo  added.

Waziri, a retired senior police officer, was appointed head of the EFCC in 2008 after the controversial exit of  Ribadu, who was  also a former police officer.

Obasanjo  commended   Ribadu, saying his performance as the  EFCC boss helped reduce corruption in Nigeria and improved her rating by the Transparency International.

He said, 'When I was there, the EFCC and ICPC worked tirelessly and we moved this country from the corruption perception index being number two from the lowest to number 45 from the lowest. We should have graduated from being number 45 to being number 50 to being number 60, to being number 100. But we are not doing that, rather we have started sliding down.'

The former President flayed  the manner Ribadu was removed from office, saying he cautioned  the late President Umaru Yar'Adua against  his  removal.

Obasanjo said if given the opportunity again, 'I will reappoint Mallam Ribadu and I will not dismiss him the way he was dismissed from the EFCC.'

He, however, criticised  Ribadu for hobnobbing 'with people he had declared as corrupt.'

Asked to rate the incumbent EFCC Chairman, Ibrahim Lamorde, on the fight against corruption, Obasanjo, said he did not know how to score him.

But he recalled that Lamorde was directly involved  when he requested the anti-graft agency to investigate him.

He said, 'I was investigated. I told  the EFCC to investigate me. I told the  EFCC to carry out clinical investigation and they did.

'They also did same with all people on my farm. One of them was telling me the other day how Lamorde called him three times and took statements from him. The EFCC even made sure they did not submit that report to me; they waited until I left and updated their report after going round the world and saying look this is the report. Nobody should be below board in the fight against corruption.'

Obasanjo, in the interview,  also insinuated that ex-Vice President Atiku was corrupt, saying he was investigated by his administration following alert from the United States.

He said Nigerians should ask Atiku why he had not visited the United States since he left office, if he had no case to answer.

Obasanjo said he could not understand why the anti-graft commission has not taken Atiku to court. He said he did not at any time instigate former EFCC Chairman Nuhu Ribadu against Atiku.

Obasanjo said: 'Ask Ribadu, if I ever say to him, 'go do this'.

'No; that is not true. We got a letter from America in June 2006, listing a number of people to be investigated; Atiku was one of them and that letter went straight to the EFCC.

'It was just shown to me because they will not be able to investigate my number two without my saying 'ok'. So, I said if we got this letter from America, so be it.

'If we have agreement with FBI, Metropolitan Police and they are helping us and we are helping them and they write to us and say these are the people we want you to help us investigate, what do you think we should do? You as EFCC, what will you do, coincidence or no coincidence?'

He said Atiku had refused to travel to the United States since he left office because of alleged corruption.

He went on: 'Well, I don't know what the EFCC has found out about him, but I don't know if he can go to America. Do you know? I am asking you, do you know?

'He travels? Travels to where? To Dubai? Let him go to America and return to Nigeria.

'Well, I don't know what the EFCC has found out about him, but I don't know if he can go to America. Do you know? I am asking you, do you know?'

But Atiku could not be reached last night for his reaction. He was away in China.

His Media Adviser, Mallam Garba Shehu, said: 'Turaki (Atiku) is in China and the time difference is about eight hours. There is no way I could reach him. You can run your story, we will react later. Turaki will wish to personally react,' he said.

The ex-President insisted that Ribadu was not his attack dog.

'He is an attack dog to those people who have run foul of the law, people like (former Vice President) Atiku! He is an attack dog to take down Tafa Balogun, my own Inspector General of Police? Is that what you call attack dog?'

He denied influencing a report of the EFCC which led to the exclusion of some politicians from the 2007 election.

Obasanjo said: 'No, no. Yes!. He brought a report to me and said these people are corrupt; how can I in my position receive a report that says these people are corrupt, and then I say 'extol him as a governor'. Is that the type of leader you want me to be? I will not be that. So he brought a report; I didn't ask him to carry out an investigation; he even came out and said he had found 28 governors as corrupt.

He said EFCC under Ribadu investigated him while in office to prove that nobody should be below board in the fight against corruption.

He said: 'I was investigated. I told the EFCC to investigate me. I told EFCC to carry out a clinical investigation and they did it. They also did same with all the people on my farm. One of them was telling me the other day how Lamorde called him three times and took statements from him.

'The EFCC even made sure that they did not submit that report to me; they waited until I left and updated their report after going round the world and saying 'look; this is the report'. Nobody should be below board in the fight against corruption.'

Obasanjo, however, became angry when he was asked why EFCC never moved against a former Chairman of the Nigeria Ports Authority (NPA) Chief Olabode George, until when the latter fell out of favour with him.

He added: 'No, no, no; don't say a thing like that; that is a stupid statement. I take very strong exception to that and if you are from EFCC and you say that, I think you should be removed and I mean it.

'Ribadu brought a report and a blanket report to us and we said, 'look, if there is something wrong with NPA, you don't crucify 50 people, go and get the leaders' and, eventually, he got the leaders and the leaders happen to be the chairman, the Chief Executive who is from Kano and they were charged and they went to jail. And it is in the same report of Ribadu; now, if Ribadu is no longer there and you want to run him down, it should not be from you and I will not run him down.'

'I will say where I think Ribadu has gone wrong but where he is right, and he lifted that organisation, it should be acknowledged.

'He did very well until he lost his direction when he left. He did so well that he became a threat even to the incoming administration; that is what happened. He was so successful that his success began to be a problem for him.'

The Egba chief  also  expressed concerns about the perceived corruption in the judiciary, saying  it required the efforts of all Nigerians to check the trend.

In a separate interview with Zero Tolerance, Waziri denied that Ibori supported her appointment as the EFCC chairman.

She said, 'I never knew him. I never knew James Ibori.

'Let me ask you, if I was in league with Ibori and was not sincerely pursuing him, would he have run, gone out of this country to Dubai in the United Arab Emirates?

'It is all lies of the enemies.  By the time I write my book,  the truth will prevail. I never knew Ibori; look I believe what is worth doing at all is worth doing well. I don't believe in half measures. By my training and upbringing, I can never betray my country for anyone.'

Justifying her appointment, Waziri said she secured the first conviction  in the history of the  EFCC.

'N190bn, one single recovery from one person that went to jail was during Farida Waziri. That is why it is good to have changes in an organisation', she added.

Waziri faulted the manner she was sacked by the Goodluck Jonathan administration despite committing more than  30 years  to serving the nation.

She said she learnt  of  her removal  in November 2011  in the news media and stated that she did  not deserve the humiliation since she had not been found wanting for any misdemeanour.

'If you are removed like that, it has a tendency to scare some people. I wasn't bothered that I left because my philosophy of life is simple, 'what has a beginning has an end,''  Waziri said.

Meanwhile, the EFCC has said that it secured 80 convictions in eight months.

The 80 were part of the 368 cases charged to court.

In a statement by its Acting Head of Media and Publicity, Wilson Uwujaren, the commission said it had also recovered N6,583,108,350 ; $19,251,519; 20,520 Euros and £19,000.

'Beyond the recovery, the EFCC intensified the prosecution of politically-exposed persons, failed bank executives, captains of industry, beneficiaries of fraudulent oil subsidy payments and senior civil servants involved in pension fraud.

'A number of cases for which investigations have been concluded, would be charged to courts across the zones where the Commission maintains offices as soon as the courts resume from recess.

'The commission deplored attempts by mischievous elements to distract it by imputing political motives to some of its investigations.'