By Adenike Lucas
The first woman to head the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC has given a short list of her achievements at the commission, in a statement released by her personal assistant.
Farida Waziri, who set up the Asset Forfeiture Unit in 2008 – an ‘important’ department in the EFCC which keeps record of all assets recovered from suspects before, during and after investigation, was reacting to claims by her predecessor, Nuhu Ribadu, that she was one of those Nigerians who frustrated the fight against corruption in the country.
After rolling out her achievement, Mrs Waziri who is held in high esteem by core staff at the anti-graft commission, said Mallam Ribadu “should be grateful to me that I cleaned his mess by creating an Asset Forfeiture Unit to put the records straight and do things rightly.”
Mallam Ribadu, served as the Executive Chair of the EFCC, between 2003 and 2007. He claimed that Mrs Waziri and the former attorney-general of the federation, Michael Aondoakaa were among those who had an agenda to destroy the anti-corruption commission and frustrate the war against corruption.
However, this allegations were quickly refuted by Mrs Waziri in a statement which highlights her trumps while working as the head of the commission.
She said: “no matter how hard Nuhu (Ribadu) tries to obliterate my tenure with his numerous lies, the record of over 450 convictions secured during my three and a half-year sojourn in EFCC remains indelible.
“Though I inherited about 10 high profile cases from him in 2008, we took over 75 of such high profile cases to courts, with another 1,500 low profile cases pending in courts as at my exit in November 2011.)
“I have decided to mention just a few for now to discourage Nuhu (Ribadu) from claiming the credit for them when next he wants to make himself happy or seek political relevance.”
In past interview, staff members who have complained of corruption and bullying by the current Acting Chair, Ibrahim Mustafa Magu, said “Madam Waziri made sure staff we were well looked after, as a result staff were not forced to take bribes. She was very open and soon as she came she set up the Asset Forfeiture and Recoveries Unit.”
An EFCC source credited Mrs Waziri for setting up the important unit, saying “the unit documents officially the exhibits recovered as well as assets which the court must have given interim forfeiture order in favour of EFCC against a suspect.
Otherwise, the source explained that the “Chief Executive will divert, sell off, even give them to their friends, relations and associates.”
Back then the “had no way to prove what it had seized or returned to suspects.
After “receiving petitions from suspects that their properties and assets were either seized illegally after court order, Mrs Waziri set up the Assets Forfeiture Unit.
According to the EFCC staff, being unaccountable was the case when (Nuhu) Ribadu, (Ibrahim) Lamorde and (Ibrahim) Magu were the henchmen at EFCC in the early days of the anti-graft agency.
The brave whistle-blower noted that it was “when Mrs (Farida) Waziri came on board in 2008, that she set up a panel which uncovered all the irregularities perpetuated by (Nuhu) Ribadu and the duo of (Ibrahim) Lamorde and (Ibrahim) Magu. But she never exposed them.
Mrs Waziri enlisted in the Nigeria Police Force in 1965. She rose to the position of Assistant Inspector General of Police. Part of her achievements at the EFCC, includes initiating and commencing “work on the permanent office complex of the EFCC sitting on a 5.5 hectares of land along Airport Road, Abuja.
“In addition to setting up offices in Maiduguri, Borno State and Ibadan, Oyo State to expand the Commission’s scope of operations.”
In the statement released by her personal assistant, Omolara Oluremi, she said:” I can go on and on, on my achievements.”
Mrs Waziri revealed her first reluctance to reply to the false accusation made against her name, saying her “first inclination was to ignore Nuhu Ribadu since I know he is always obsessed with dropping my name into his script any time he needs public pity or political relevance.
“But, on a second thought I felt I should advise him to leave me out of his frustrations and face life.
“There should be a life after EFCC. If after eight years of being removed as EFCC chairman, he is yet to move on with life, even after two successive chairmen had occupied the same seat and moved on with their lives, then his problem may be psychogenic. He needs help elsewhere, certainly not from me.
Mrs Waziri took over from Mallam Nuhu Ribadu, the pionner chair of the agency in May 2008. Since then two other men have headed the commission.
Sources within the EFCC said she must have stepped on toes when she made plans to extradite the former Minister of the Federal Capital Territory Mallam Nasir El-Rufai from the USA to face charges.
Speaking on the condition of anonymity for fear of reprisal, the source said: “(Nuhu) Ribadu and (Nasir) El-Rufai were very tight friends. Though, people feel as though (Nuhu) Ribadu betrayed the friendship by joining the Peoples Democratic Party, I don’t think this spoilt their friendship.
The insider explained that “(Nasir) El-Rufai holds a lot of influence within the APC. (Nuhu) Ribadu probably leveraged on this power to join the party this year.”
Mrs Waiziri also made note of Mallam Ribadu’s penchant move from one party to another. She said, very soon he might even blame her for his loss at the polls.
In her opinion, “Nuhu (Ribadu) is yet to face the reality that EFCC is a Federal Government agency and not a personal estate of anybody, eight years after, I find it compelling to remind him, otherwise one day he would wake up to blame me for his defeat in the 2011 presidential election and even his pathetic outing in the 2015 governorship election in Adamawa State despite the slush funds deployed to ensure his victory at the polls.
“I equally suspect that Nuhu (Ribadu) may, sooner than later, blame me for his penchant to jump from one party to another party like a political prostitute; from the defunct Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN) to PDP and now to All Progressives Congress (APC).
“It is his lust for power, inordinate ambition and desperation for political relevance that continue to push him to dine and wine, and even enjoy the wealth of those he had labelled as corrupt in yesteryears. He can’t hold me responsible for his double face, lack of principle and complex contradictions in his character.
“There is also the need to remind Nuhu Ribadu that before he succumbs to another logorrhoea, he should avail himself a copy of the investigative report on recovered asset during his tenure as EFCC chairman and use the opportunity of the next naming ceremony or birthday party he is invited to, to explain to Nigerians what happened to billions of funds and asset recovered from suspects under him, with no records or documentation.
At this juncture, she advised that Nuhu Ribadu should “stop being a weeping man.”
Garrulity, she added “does not heal frustration or depression.
She advised that instead of seeking relevance through her, he may consider vying for a local government chairmanship or councillorship position to get by.
“Stop spewing falsehood, fables and lies to seek public sympathy and political relevance,” she added.