Pioneer chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, Mr. Nuhu Ribadu, said on Wednesday that his decision to join politics was a mad one given his roles in the fight against corrupt persons.
Ribadu, who spoke in Abuja as the special guest at the ‘National Stakeholders Workshop on the Recovery and Management of Recovered Assets’ organised by the Presidential Advisory Committee Against Corruption, said he continued to pay “dearly” for his anti-corruption struggles as he joined politics.
He also restated his commitment to continue to fight against corruption if given the opportunity to do so.
Ribadu denied the allegation that former heads of the commission, especially the immediate past chairman, Mr. Ibrahim Lamorde, diverted over N1tn of the loot recovered by the anti-graft agency over the years.
The event was organised by the Prof. Itse Sagay-led PACAC and The Commonwealth Secretariat, which was represented by its Director, Rule of Law Division, Katalaina Sapolu.
He said given the honesty with which he and his team, which then comprised the incumbent Acting Chairman of EFCC, Ibrahim Magu, and Lamorde, had handled the loot recovered by the commission, it was unfair to be accused of diverting part of the assets.
He said, “Sadly, I read that they want to take the issue to the National Assembly, my God! They are saying ‘come and account for the N1tn that you have taken. Why?”
The former anti-corruption agency boss, who contested as the governorship candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party in the 2015 election in Adamawa State, however, said he considered the allegation and his experience in politics as the price he had to pay for fighting corrupt people.
Ribadu added, “Considering the care we took in handling whatever was in our custody, I find it baffling and disheartening when I hear people make insinuations about how we handled recovered assets.
“It is the most unfair remark but certainly not totally surprising as the fight against corruption is essentially a thankless job, especially in our climes.
“That was why I was telling Prof. (Itse Sagay), that ‘don’t bother sir, people will abuse you, don’t say anything’.
“This is the job. We are hurting people, we are taking things from those who took things desperately and we denied them chance to make good use of it and enjoy it with their families.
“I’m still paying dearly. In my own madness, I decided to go into politics and I am still paying for it. But I’m not bothered; I will continue fighting to the last of my breath. If I’m given the opportunity, I will do it again.”
He said contrary to the allegations against him and others present and former heads of EFCC, it was some senior lawyers that benefited from some of the cases undertaken by the anti-graft agency, such as the Halliburton case.
He said, “Contrary to such insinuations about self-enrichment, it was some people, not us or even the government, that made money from some of those cases.
“A case in point is the Halliburton investigation, where, after we had done the bulk of the work, it was turned into a milking cow for some senior lawyers who made millions of dollars out of it.”
Ribadu stated that other foreign countries, such as the United States of America and the United Kingdom, also recovered billions of naira from the Halliburton case and other cases of high level corruption. The Nigerian government did not get anything because it failed to take any step.
He said, “I ended up taking this case to the US authorities. Unfortunately, there was nothing we could do here in Nigeria.
“It was the case of powerful companies bribing and compromising the system and getting away with it, and we were hopelessly helpless.
“Not just that one, we also had Siemens, for example. They were EFCC cases. Almost all the worst cases that took place in the world today with respect to corruption, they were all cases that started with the EFCC and they were our work.”