“Injustice for one man, is injustice for all men”---MLK Jr

This is not the best of time for Mallam Nuhu Ribadu, former Chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC). Since he was sent early this year to the National Institute for Policy and Strategic Studies on a mandatory course without due process and in a move to force him out of the EFCC apparently because of his prosecution of official corruption at the highest level of government, Mr. Ribadu has, literally, known no peace---removed from office in questionable circumstances; unlawfully demoted, reportedly shot at by unknown gunmen; dismissed from the police force, and likely to be jailed soon!

His ‘offence’? He did the unusual by daring to fight high level official corruption, and those very close to the power base in Abuja.

Those that he fought so diligently for the sake of our beloved country are now firmly in power and fighting back brutally.

Shortly after his forced departure from the EFCC, exactly on Tuesday 5 August 2008, the Nigerian Police Service Commission announced the demotion of Mr. Ribadu, from the rank of an Assistant Inspector-General of Police to Deputy Commissioner of Police.  The police claimed that there were ‘irregularities’ in his appointment but it is now clear that his demotion is the second of four things the power-that-be have in stock for Mr. Ribadu. The first, to remove him from the EFCC, the second, to demote him, the third to dismiss him, and the fourth will be to jail him for politically motivated offences.

Appointed in 2003, Mr. Ribadu made the EFCC a credible anti-corruption institution widely respected both nationally and internationally. Whatever may have been the shortcomings of EFCC while he was Chairman, few would disagree that Mr. Ribadu made an important contribution to the fight against corruption in Nigeria—he did the unusual by pursuing and bringing to justice the hitherto untouchable and powerful politicians and ‘leaders’.

The retaliatory measures taken by the Yar’Adua government against Ribadu have been condemned by many prominent human rights activists and lawyers, including Mr Femi Falana, President West African Bar Association (WABA), and Chief Gani Fawehinmi, SAN. 

But the government of President Umaru Yar’Adua is not yielding. The police authorities have now dismissed Mr. Ribadu, despite the fact that his case against them is still pending before the court.

This can’t go on. And we cannot be indifferent to the treatment of Mr. Ribadu by the Nigerian authorities simply because it is not happening to us or someone close to us.

It should not be that way because an injustice to one man dishonors all people.

We have to speak out loudly in a chorus of protest against the unlawful and unjustified attacks and harassment of Mr. Ribadu if impunity of the country’s leaders is to be tackled. Unless more Nigerians speak out loudly against harassment of Mr. Ribadu there is little chance of it ending.

The greatest challenge in our pursuit of justice is to stand up and speak to power.  Injustices and double standards are a brazen abomination that cannot be defended.  
We must speak up and not shut up until we know the tide is turning towards justice and safety for Mr. Ribadu.

Today it is Mr. Ribadu; no one knows who is next tomorrow.

That is why our organization, the Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) has launched an online public petition to encourage members of the public to express concerns about the continuing harassment, intimidation and attacks against Mr. Ribadu, and to call on President Umaru Yar’Adua to exercise his authority to stop further harassment, intimidation and attacks against Mr Ribadu. The petition would also be sent to the UN, the African Union and the European Union for actions.

President Yar’Adua must demonstrate his professed rule of law policy by instructing the security agents and other agencies of government, including the police to stop further harassment, intimidation and attacks against Mr Ribadu. His purported dismissal must be reversed immediately. All allegations of threats to Mr. Ribadu’s life must be fully investigated and suspected perpetrators brought to justice

I encourage all well meaning Nigerians to support the “SAVE RIBADU CAMPAIGN”, and to tell the Yar’Adua government loudly that enough is enough. The online petition is at http://www.PetitionOnline.com/he4e6789/petition.html

Adetokunbo Mumuni
Executive Director
23/12/08

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