A month after the federal government first indicated that it might discontinue the trial of Nuhu Ribadu, the former chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), the Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Mohammed Adoke Bello, yesterday formally withdrew the case against him. Mr Ribadu has been facing charges for not declaring his assets while he was the chairman of the anti-corruption agency.
|Nuhu Ribadu, the former chairman of the EFCC|
Mr. Adoke, citing the powers of his office under the Constitution to withdraw any criminal matter against anyone at his discretion, withdrew the case being heard by a three-man tribunal led by Muritala Sani, its acting chairman. The Tribunal, therefore, discharged Mr. Ribadu and struck out the case against him.
Mr. Ribadu, who was represented by his counsel, Femi Falana, was not in court during the proceedings. He remains in the United States, where he recently completed his fellowship at the Centre for Global Development. But his friends and family members, including former minister of the Federal Capital Territory, Nasir El-Rufai – who himself was granted administrative bail by the EFCC less than 24 hours earlier – were in court to watch the proceedings and they all showed their joy at the news.
An exclusive NEXT report had indicated that Mr. Ribadu has accepted to serve as a special adviser to the Acting President, Goodluck Jonathan, on anti-corruption and good governance.
Trumped up charges
Following Mr. Ribadu’s controversial removal from office, and subsequent dramatic dismissal from the Nigeria Police Force, the former attorney general, Michael Aondoakaa, filed charges against Mr. Ribadu, accusing him of failing to declare his assets while he was the EFCC chairman. Mr. Ribadu, who has always denied the allegations, told journalists that his asset declaration forms were, “submitted on assumption of office in March 2003, and my exit from office in December 2008.
“I assert that there is no substance to this case; that my assets were declared. How could I have been confirmed for my position in 2003 if I did not submit an asset declaration form to the Senate, as all officers needing Senate confirmation are obligated to do?” he asked. He said the charges were trumped up basically to smear his name and persecute him because he had crossed some influential people while in office.
The Code of Conduct
Tribunal, which was hearing the case, declared Mr. Ribadu wanted on Friday November 20, following his refusal to appear before it. Mr. Falana, had asked the tribunal to guarantee the security of his client if it wants him to return to Nigeria and appear before it, saying there had been two attempts on his client’s life before he left Nigeria.
Mr. Falana declined to say when his client would return to Nigeria, though Mr. Ribadu is expected to come back in the next one month to resume his post as Mr. Jonathan’s adviser. Ironically, as part of his job, he will be expected to oversee anti-corruption agencies – including the EFCC, and the Independent Corrupt Practices and other related offences Commission (ICPC).