Mrs Margaret Sekaggya
Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights defenders
Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights
1211 Geneva 10, Switzerland
Email: HYPERLINK "mailto:[email protected]" [email protected]
6 August 2008
Dear Mrs Margaret Sekaggya
Re: Request for urgent action in the case of attacks against a human rights defender, Mallam Nuhu Ribadu
The Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) is writing to express serious concerns about the recent threats of arrest and demotion of Mallam Nuhu Ribadu, former Chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), and urges you to urgently intervene in this matter to stop further attacks, intimidation and harassment of a prominent anti-corruption campaigner and human rights defender.
SERAP is a human rights non-governmental organization whose mandate include to promote and ensure respect for socio-economic rights of Nigerians, and to promote transparency and accountability in the public and private sectors through human rights.
On Tuesday 5 August 2008, the Nigerian Police Service Commission announced the demotion of Ribadu, from the rank of an Assistant Inspector-General of Police to Deputy Commissioner of Police. Mr Ribadu, who was sent to the National Institute for Policy and Strategic Studies on a mandatory course without due process and because of his prosecution of official corruption at the highest level of government, was a Deputy Commissioner of Police when he was appointed the EFCC chairman in 2003. In December 2006, he was elevated to the post of Commissioner of Police. Mr Ribadu subsequently rose to the post of Assistant Inspector General of Police for his meritorious service, diligence and hard-work in the fight against corruption and impunity of perpetrators in Nigeria.
The Nigerian government justified his demotion on the ground that his “promotion was irregular and done without regard for the laws guiding such exercise.” However, SERAP believes that the demotion is in bad faith and part of a persistent smear campaign against Mr Ribadu for his anti-corruption campaign while in office. There are credible reports that while the government was announcing Mr Ribadu’s demotion it was also making attempts to arrest him in Kuru, Jos, purportedly for “questioning”.
SERAP is deeply concerned by the retaliatory measures taken by the Yar’Adua government to arrest and demote one of the most efficient, focused, consistent and hardworking anti-corruption campaigners in our country. The threats of arrest and demotion not only aim to continue the victimization of Mallam Ribadu for his anti-corruption activities as Chairman of the EFCC but also to harass, intimidate and frustrate the work of other anti-corruption campaigners and institutions.
We are seriously concerned about the safety and well-being of Mr Ribadu, and fear that continuing attacks against him are a reprisal for his efficient and diligent prosecution of official and political corruption while in office.
The continuing attacks, intimidation and harassment of Mr Ribadu demonstrate the increasing intolerance of the Yar’Adua government for independent opinions and voices of criticism calling for accountability and transparency in a country that has witnessed pervasive political and official corruption and the impunity of perpetrators for decades.
We consider Mr Ribadu to be a human rights defender within the provisions of the UN Declaration on the Right and Responsibility of Individuals, Groups and Organs of Society to Promote and Protect Universally Recognized Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms of 1998 (UN Declaration on Human Rights Defenders).
We ask you to urgently assert your mandates to put pressure on the government of Nigeria to reverse its decision to demote Mr Ribadu and to stop further threats of arrest, harassment and intimidation against him.
The Special Rapporteur should send a strong message to the government of Nigeria that the campaign of intimidation and harassment against anti-corruption campaigner is unacceptable, and will not be tolerated.
Thanking you in advance of your urgent attention to the matter.