I am trying to situate myself within the plush residential accommodation in NIPSS Kuru, Jos where the ex- Assistant Inspector General of Police and ex-EFCC Chair may be residing. I am wondering how Mallam Nuhu Ribadu might be responding to his prolonged public humiliation cumulating in his demotion to the rank of Assistant Commissioner of Police. An option might be to assume a reflective mode of stoic silence or an activist mode of contemplating the next cause of action. Whatever the results of his meditation and thinking, the Mallam must surely realise by now that one of the perils of high and low office is that as President Nnamdi Azikiwe once said, "No condition is permanent"
The Mallam once, the central protagonist in Nigeria's â€˜fight' against corruption is now being laid bare through the instruments used by those in the citadel of power. His treatment proves that truth threatens power, and power threatens truth.
For one moment, I seek some indulgence to allow me to locate this man, Ribadu within the briefest of the historical to give a proper perspective of the issues I intend to raise today. I draw heavily from Musa Simon Reef of the Daily' Trust's account of 30th December 2007:
"When he was appointed in 2003 to head the EFCC, Ribadu was only a Chief Superintendent of Police and served briefly as assistant and deputy commissioner of police. His appointment marked the beginning of a committed battle against corruption that has eaten too deep into the fabric of the nation. Under the Obasanjo regime, Ribadu's EFCC was most feared among those described as enemies of the Obasanjo administration.
â€¦.. Not done with the feat achieve in the Plateau, Ribadu moved to Bayelsa state where former Governor Diepreye Alamieyeseigha was finally routed out of office and arraigned before the courts on accounts of corrupt enrichment. The allegation then was that then President Obasanjo was using the EFCC to deal with his enemies. Others alleged that plots were being hatched to pursue an aggressive campaign of selective prosecution.
Retired Major-General Muhammadu Buhari, though an opposition leader, rose in defence of Ribadu, insisting that the man was doing an excellent job. The former head of state praised the courage of the EFCC boss and expressed hope that if the commission was allowed to do its job the way it should, â€¦â€¦â€¦..."
If Ribadu is as astute as is sometimes suggested it must have been clear to him when he started out on the honesty â€˜crusade' with the backing of the then President Obasanjo that his very â€˜effrontery' and courage in and at confronting power, threatened the status quo of powerful interests, (people of varied backgrounds and vile and dishonourable means linked by power, greed and other attributes of the criminal tendencies), that from this would flow repercussions as soon as his political cover departed.
Perhaps Ribadu may take some consolation that the demotion to Deputy Commissioner of Police is nothing personal, but a cowardly attack on General Olusegun Obasanjo. For it appears by design that those who lack the courage of calling the General to account via a frontal assault are now pursuing his appointees and surrogates left, right and centre.
This article is informed and based around Nuhu Ribadu's reported demotion of today, carried out in a fashion that could be â€˜legally' questionable and fraught with challenges. For it appears a Pandora box of special promotions ranging from the 1960s of Generals, Professors, Permanent Secretaries etc is about to be opened, because, I guess the strict letter of the law was not followed. It is widely thought that a General of northern extraction, now deceased never passed staff college, we should safely assume that post humously he will be demoted to Lt Col and his reign as Chief of Army Staff and the lot be expunged to follow Osayande's logic.
Let us for one moment examine the rationale and logic of Parry Osayande's Police Service Commission in rescinding the promotions over 140 officers on the basis that the rule of law was not applied. The Nigerian Tribune of 6th August 2008 states:
"The Police Service Commission has announced the demotion of former EFCC Chairman, Mallam Nuhu Ribadu, from the rank of Assistant Inspector General of Police (AIG) to Deputy Commissioner of Police (DCP) along with 139 other senior police officers. The chairman of the Police Service Commission, Mr. Parry Osayande, a retired Deputy Inspector General of Police, in a statement in Abuja on Tuesday, said that the commission found the promotions, which were made before the inauguration of the commission disturbing and irregular, as it was only the commission that had the statutory responsibility to promote officers.
According to him, the special promotion was not based on the established criteria and was a breach of Section 153 of the 1999 Constitution and the Police Service Commission Act 2001. Osayande said, "It has, therefore, been the cause of disillusionment, agitations and indiscipline within the Nigeria Police Force."
He said that after due consideration of President Umaru Yar'Adua's commitment to the â€˜rule of law' and in order to guarantee a level-playing field for all members of the police force, the commission re-examined the guidelines for promotion for all the ranks ranging from Deputy Inspector-General of Police to Constable."
The emphasis in bold are mine. The key point these promotions were made before this commission was inaugurated! So what is the agenda? I would have thought that the commission would and should focus on the future, rather than events or actions that did or did not occur before their inauguration? I wonder whether the ex-Police chief has considered the impact on morale of the Police Force with demotions of about 140 officers and the impact on the operational effectiveness might endanger. There is also a fundamental unfairness here. Why should these men suffer for the actions of the former President, they took on promotions that they could not have rejected, to revert them back makes no sense.
Is this article a call to set aside the â€˜rule of law', as one who trained and qualified as a lawyer, though now not in practice, I would hope not! What I seek to establish is that in upholding the rule of law we must apply a degree of common sense for man should make the rule as an instrument of liberation and progress, otherwise all sectors would come to a standstill. I also think it is absurd and insensitive for the commission to find it necessary to humiliate a dead man in the process of its â€˜so called' adherence to the â€˜rule of law, was this necessary? Was it the dead man's fault? My understanding, I stand to be corrected, is these promotions took place in the absence of a commission, is this desirable? No, but is the solution the ground zero approach, going nuclear? I am certain that the answer is no.
One of the aspects of the â€˜rule of law' according an attorney with the
"â€¦decisional and procedural rules must be consistently applied. When these four conditions are satisfiedâ€¦."
By all means I suggest to the President follow the law, but if we must unpack the past then let us not be selective but do it in its totality. By this logic it would therefore seem that the deceased general of the northern extraction and a whole host of others of different extractions should posthumously lose their ranks.
In the meantime the masses continue to hope against hope that this government might transform their fortunes.
The writer is a Barrister and Solicitor of the Supreme Court of Nigeria