Contentious former president Olusegun Obasanjo is once again up in arms against former Chairman of Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) Farida Waziri and former Vice President Atiku Abubakar over issues bordering on issues of corruption and attempts to curb it in the country.
In an exclusive interview he granted Zero Tolerance, a magazine published by the EFCC, Obasanjo labelled Atiku as corrupt, said Waziri was a wrong successor to Mallam Nuhu Ribadu, the pioneer chairman of the anti-graft agency and that Ribadu has remained the best man to have led EFCC since inception. He alleged that Atiku is unable to visit the United States of America because he had corruption charges standing against him.
Concerning Waziri, Obasanjo said “I know that the woman they brought in to replace Ribadu was not the right person for that job because I understood that one of those who head-hunted her was (James) Ibori. If Ibori, who is now in a UK (United Kingdom) prison for fraud, head-hunts somebody who will fight corruption in Nigeria, then you can understand what happened.” He challenged the editors of Zero Tolerance “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 said of the woman who retired as Deputy Inspector General of Police.
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 late President Umaru Yar’Adua against his removal although he criticised Ribadu for hobnobbing “with people he had declared as corrupt.
Obasanjo gleefully announced that as President, he personally requested the anti-graft body to investigate him but that he came out sparkling. “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 (Ibrahim) Lamorde (current EFC Chair) 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.”
But in a separate interview with the same magazine, Waziri denied that Ibori supported her appointment as the EFCC chairman. “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.”
Waziri insisted that 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 while frowning at the manner in which 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. She also advised Obasanjo to respect his age otherwise she would be forced to expose the retired general for what he truly is.
Atiku equally debunked Obasanjo’s claim saying that he always travelled to the US whenever the need arose.