ABUJA, Nigeria – Former police officer and current leading Nigerian anti-corruption figure Mallam Nuhu Ribadu is the pioneer chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC,) which he personally built up to be the most prominent anti-corruption unit in the country. The plight proves quite risky in a place like Nigeria; Ribadu has, on more than one occasion, gotten demoted at work or lost his social standing due to his actions.
Despite this, his beliefs remain strong and he has yet to be swayed by the “marvelous scammers” of Nigeria.
Ribadu explains that he experiences corruption first hand on a daily basis. Nonchalantly disregarding his title, people will attempt to offer him bribes. Because many parts of Nigeria are abundant in oil resources, many unproportionally rich magnates with respectable statuses reside here.
Unfortunately, most choose to abuse their power, one being James Ibori.
Governor of a southern Nigerian state (Delta State,) Ibori conducted extensive money laundering and attempted to pay off Ribadu himself after being captured in 2007. Ribadu accepted the money, but deposited it in a government bank as evidence rather than keeping the hefty sum for private gain.
Although initially acquitted of all charges, the former governor was ultimately convicted for embezzling millions of dollars, a victory that can be added to Ribadu’s list of accomplishments.
Ibori wasn’t the only prominent public figure to be brought to justice by the hands of Ribadu. At least nine others were also prosecuted during the anti-corruption chairman’s five year run in office. However, as he resigned in 2008, his reputation faltered; evidently he’d gotten mixed up in the obscure business of some prominent politicians and was subsequently forced into exile.
Accepted as a visiting fellow at the Center for Global Development in Washington, Ribadu remained there until his return home in 2011, when he attempted to run for president. Despite his past endeavors, he did not gain much support in the election and lost by a large margin, coming in third place.
However, nobody is perfect: there is some evidence to suggest that Ribadu, too, was partial to fraudulent behavior in the past. In 2007, he published a list of over a hundred corrupt candidates for whom, he urged, should not have the privilege of being considered for office.
The president at the time, Olusegun Obasanjo, was not on the list; neither were any the people close to him. It seems to be of some relevance that Obasanjo was, in fact, the man who appointed Ribadu to his position. Coincidence or not remains up to speculation.
Ribadu’s reputation, although a bit tarnished, is still that of a largely uncorrupt man among many dishonest figures. Whether or not this will be enough to gain him the people’s vote in the next elections of 2015 has yet to be seen.
– Natalia Isaeva
Sources: New York Times, Sahara Reporters