Atiku, Waziri fire back at Obasanjo
A former Chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, Mrs. Farida Waziri, on Wednesday said that the claim by ex-President Olusegun Obasanjo that she was recommended for the EFCC job by convicted former Delta State Governor, James Ibori was false.
Similarly, the former Vice President Atiku Abubakar said insinuations by his former boss Chief Olusegun Obasanjo that he was persona non-grata in the United States were not true, pointing out that his United State visa had just been renewed.
Waziri expressed surprise that a man who had been twice a Nigerian leader would 'descend so low to peddle falsehood,' Waziri warned Obasanjo to respect his age or else she would 'open up on him.'
'I will like to warn that those who live in glass houses don't throw stones and as such Obasanjo should not allow me open up on him. Respectable elder statesmen act and speak with decorum', she said in a statement personally signed by her.
Obasanjo had in an interview with Zero Tolerance, a magazine published by the EFCC, said that the war against corruption in the country slowed down during Waziri's tenure because she was not qualified for the job.
He had said, '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 FBI? What relationship did she have with Metropolitan Police in London? It's not a picnic.'
She told Obasanjo that those who live in glass houses do not throw stones - in a robust defence of her integrity, following Obasanjo's allegation that ex-Governor James Ibori head-hunted her to lead the commission.
Mrs. Waziri said it was 'illogical and nonsensical' for anyone to continue to insinuate that Ibori had a hand in her appointment.
She said the allegation was 'one of the lies Obasanjo's sit-tight pawns cooked to stop my appointment as EFCC chairman in 2008.'
Mrs. Waziri, who took on Obasanjo in a personal statement in Abuja, said Obasanjo does not have the qualifications she obtained.
She said with a Master's Degree in Law and another in Strategic Studies, she was qualified to head the EFCC.
The statement said: 'My attention has been drawn to a number of allegations made against me by Mr. Obasanjo. One of such was the alleged involvement of former Delta State Governor James Ibori in my appointment.
'While I hold the office of a Head of State, either serving or retired, in the highest esteem, I will like to put on record for the umpteenth time that this is totally unfounded, blatant lie and arrant falsehood.
'It is, therefore, worrisome when a man who has been twice a Nigerian head of state can descend so low to peddle falsehood. The truth is that I never met Ibori in my life, until after months in office as chairman of the EFCC when I used to see him in the Presidential Villa.
'It is on record today that I initiated the investigation that drove Ibori into the waiting hands of Interpol and Met Police. As such, it is illogical and nonsensical for anyone to continue to insinuate that Ibori has a hand in my appointment.
'I remember this was one of the lies Obasanjo's sit-tight pawns cooked to stop my appointment as EFCC chairman in 2008.
'On the issue of qualifications raised by Obasanjo, the qualification for appointment as chairman of the Commission as stipulated in its Establishment Act says that the chairman shall 'be a serving or retired member of any government security or law enforcement agency not below the rank of Assistant Commissioner of Police or equivalent; and possess not less than 15 years cognate experience'.
'The late President Yar'adua did not have to alter the Establishment Act when he was appointing me unlike what Obasanjo did.
'Again for the records, I served in the Nigeria Police Force for 35 years and got to the pinnacle of my career before my appointment as EFCC chairman.'
Mrs. Waziri said she had never been a pushover in her career and asked Obasanjo to revisit her records.
'If Obasanjo's real age has not blurred his memory, I will like to remind him that I was a Commissioner of Police, Admin Force CID, CP General Investigations, CP Anti-fraud, CP X Squad, CP Police Special Fraud Unit where I secured the first conviction in a case of Advance Fee Fraud in Nigerian history.
'These are all prime investigative organs of the Nigeria Police where I related with other law enforcement agencies, including the FBI, across the world. I must place on record that at SFU, I did not only relate with FBI, Interpol and Met police among others, we carried out joint operations at different times on a number of cases. I have also led the Nigerian delegation to the Interpol headquarters in France.'
Mrs. Waziri warned Obasanjo against statements which can mislead the public.
She added: 'To further expose the height of mischief in the allegations, the past and present chairmen of the EFCC have both worked under me, yet someone can open his mouth to say I am not qualified to head the same agency.
'This is in addition to my educational qualifications, such as a first degree in Law, a Masters degree in Law and another Masters degree in Strategic Studies. I doubt if Obasanjo himself can boast of this level of educational qualifications.
'I will also like to remind Obasanjo that no chairman of the EFCC has till date beaten my records in terms of investigation of high profile cases, prosecution, conviction and recovery.
'I will like to warn that those who live in glass house don't throw stones and, as such, Obasanjo should not allow me open up on him. Respectable elder statesmen act and speak with decorum.'
The ex-anti graft Czar added, 'The truth is that I never met Ibori in my life until after months in office as chairman of the EFCC when I used to see him in the Presidential Villa.
It is on record today that I initiated the investigation that drove Ibori into the waiting hands of the Interpol and the Metpolice.
She told the former President that ability to be used to victimise political enemies in the rabid pursuit of his third term agenda 'has never been part of the qualifications for appointment as chairman of the anti-graft agency.'
Also, Abubakar said there was no way he could be arrested if he travelled to the US.
He added that Obasanjo's repeated 'jokes' about his ' not being able to go to the US have become a clichÃ©, tiresome and not true.'
In a statement issued by his Media Adviser, Mallam Garba Shehu, the former vice-president said his visa to the US had recently been renewed.
'The former President is wrong. It is widely known that Abubakar didn't enter government broke. He declared his assets at the commencement of his Vice Presidency and did so at the end of his tenure.' the statement added.
It stated that in 2006, Obasanjo sent his National Security Adviser to stop Abubakar from travelling to the US on the grounds that he risked arrest on arrival.
The ex-VP, according to the statement, spurned that advice, left Nigeria and landed at the Andrews Air Force Base, the official airport of the US government.
It added that shortly after Yar'Adua was inaugurated as President, Abubakar travelled and spent three months in the US.
Meanwhile, Abubakar in a more subdued reponse to his former boss, said he had visited the United States since he left office in 2007, adding that he had been investigated by many agencies, including the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) in the United States, but no allegation of corruption was found against him.
Atiku, in a statement by his Media Adviser Mallam Garba Shehu, said he had no case to answer either in Nigeria or in the United States.
The statement said: 'The former President is wrong. It is widely known that Atiku didn't enter government broke. He declared his assets at the commencement of his vice presidency and did so at the end of his term as required by the constitution, which is a sacred document to Atiku.
'Atiku, who is currently returning from China after leading a private economic trade mission at the invitation of the Chinese government, travels often and has a well-documented record of building industries and putting thousands of Nigerians to work. And this record, quite frankly, has been thoroughly investigated.
'Atiku has no case against him by any arm of the law in any country in the world, including the United States.
'President Obasanjo's repeated 'jokes' about Turaki not being able to go to America have become a clichÃ©, tiresome and not true.'
The statement added: 'In 2006, former President Obasanjo sent his National Security Adviser (NSA) to stop Atiku from travelling to the US, saying that the Vice President risked arrest on arrival.
'Turaki spurned that advice, left Nigeria to land at the Andrews Air Force Base, the official airport of the US government, to receive the best reception ever on a visit to America. So, we are used to those taunts.
'When the former Vice President left office, shortly before the late Musa Yar'Adua was inaugurated as President, Atiku spent three months in the US. If they (US authorities) wanted him for anything, they would have met him.
'It is time to start dealing in facts. Specifically, the fact that Atiku's visa to visit the United States has been recently renewed.
'Another fact is that Atiku is one of the most investigated politicians in Nigerian history. And every investigation, whether politically-motivated here at home or by the FBI abroad, has yielded the same result every time: not guilty.
'If Atiku is guilty of anything, it is crushing persistent attempts at re-writing our constitution.
'Atiku has chosen the path of optimism and hope. Moving forward, he will continue working to fuel Nigeria's economy through investment and job creation, while also passionately and persistently defending our young democracy.'