Chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, Mr. Nuhu Ribadu, has called Nigeria’s leaders “corrupt and professional manipulators” who steal, deceive and always want to steal more, adding the doors should be locked against them in 2007

Presenting a paper titled, “Beyond threats: Can EFCC stop thieving politicians?” at the opening of a three-day workshop by the Institute of Administration, Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria, Ribadu alleged that the primary reason why many people sought public offices in the country was to acquire wealth.

According to him, the quest to amass instant wealth had made the process of attaining public offices “ferocious and acrimonious.”

Ribadu said, “Why will a man who could barely eke out a living become suddenly become stupendous in riches for the sole reason that he is an office-holder?

“I should also make another confession. I discovered that since we started paying close attention to some of our politicians, they have been found to be criminally ingenious. Not only can they steal in the most brazen of ways, they also have an uncanny ability to deceive and blackmail at the same time.

“And these they have been doing with people on the one hand and the EFCC on the other.

“The campaign against the EFCC has been carried far and wide; and for them, all is fair in war, including regular propaganda through deft manipulation of the media and ‘irregular’ employment of fetishes.

“Nigeria has not been lucky with good leaders at local, state and federal levels. We have had leaders without conviction; leaders without any sense of patriotism; leaders whose concept of governance is the amassing of personal wealth; leaders without vision.

“It is indeed a misnomer to call them leaders, for they do not qualify to be so called. They are, in the main, professional manipulators who pillaged and emptied the treasuries.”

The EFCC chairman, who also alleged that many politicians presented bogus assets declaration forms in anticipation of acquisition of wealth, said they (politicians) were averse to “any inquiry about their sudden riches.”

Ribadu said it was regrettable that any attempt to look into their finances were usually dubbed “political blackmail, jealousy or the work of enemies.”

Ribadu, whose paper was presented by the EFCC Executive Secretary, Mr. Emmanuel Akomaye, however, restated the commission’s determination to ensure that corrupt politicians were barred from participating in the 2007 general elections.

He said, “We shall do this by exposing their criminality. We shall bring them to justice through aggressive investigation and prosecution. Above all, we shall seize all those ill-gotten wealth.”

To Nigerians, he said, they must vote for only those to whom they could entrust government at all levels.

Ribadu added that there was also the need for the electorate to examine, in microscopic details issues of governance, particularly corruption, in order to address the nation’s problems.

He said,“The day we begin to install true leadership in office, most of our problems will be solved. And so, as we approach 2007, we have to be vigilant.

“We have to reject people with questionable character. It is time to put them to shame. It is time to expose them, their agents and cronies. It is time to say no to their ill-gotten money.”

In what appeared an appraisal of the EFCC performance, Ribadu said, “In our 45 years of existence as a nation, this is the first time that we are seeing public officers going to jail for corruption.

“We went beyond threats, seized over $150million from a former chief law enforcement officer of this country and sent him to jail.

“We have conversely ignored threats to our lives to jail 419 kingpins; taken a former executive governor into custody and put him on trial; jailed bank managing directors and terrorists.

“It is to our credit today that members of the Federal Executive Council, members of the National Assembly, including a former Senate president, local government chairmen, indeed politicians at all levels and strata, are standing trial.

“We have withstood physical assaults personally led by an executive governor and spiritual threats made recently by yet another to continue the detailed investigations against them.”

He added that the commission had also taken the war against corruption to public institutions like the Nigeria Customs Service, the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency, and ports.

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