Pioneer Chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), Nuhu Ribadu, has urged the National Judicial Council (NJC) give necessary support to the Department of State Service (DSS) and the anti-graft agency in the ongoing war against corrupt judges.
He said even if the judiciary was not comfortable with the method of the “sting operation” conducted by the DSS against the judges, it should at least “appreciate that what is being done is needed”.
Ribadu, who made his position known in his opening remarks at Radio Nigeria Annual Lecture in Abuja yesterday, said it was time for an all-out war against corruption with no sacred cows.
He said: “Though there is consensus about the need to stop corruption, it is usually in fighting it that disagreements usually arise.
“With fighting corruption often comes ripples and discomfort as we have seen recently with the probes in the judiciary. It is normal. But we have to withstand the pressure and move on. We have passed the same road before”.
Recounting his experience at the helm of affairs of the EFCC, the one-time presidential candidate of the defunct Action Congress of Nigeria, said at the time, some state governors felt the anti-graft agency was going beyond its brief.
“They ganged up to stop us but we persevered. Some of them even went to court, but today that has been accepted as normal”, he noted.
Mr. Ribadu further recalled that when the EFCC under his leadership went after then Senate President Adolphus Wabara and former Inspector General of Police, Tafa Balogun, not a few thought that the “sky would fall”, considering the pedigree of those the anti-graft agency was tackling for alleged corruption.
“Here was I and my colleagues, middle level and junior police officers taking on the IGP. It was unimaginable! The day that arrest was made, it was like the sky would fall. But it came to pass.
“It is similar situation we are having today. However, even if we disagree with the method, we have to appreciate the fact what is being done is needed. The judiciary should understand this and cooperate fully. We have to have this all-out war against corruption without sparing any sacred cow.
“If there is one area we need national consensus now, it is in supporting this effort to tackle corruption. As most of you know, I belong to the law profession, I therefore share the concern of some of my colleagues.
“However, we should all resolve to support the government and those doing the work to get us through this phase”, he pleaded.
Ribadu said corruption is like termite, which can destroy the nation’s economic structure.
He added: “The task today, therefore, is to find the nexus between the war against corruption and economic prosperity. Let me emphasize that fighting corruption is at the centre of whatever economic progress we desire as a nation.
“Corruption is like termite that is capable of destroying our economic structure, no matter how well-built. Almost everything wrong with our politics and economy can be traced to the menace of corruption. This is why we have to fight it”, the All Progressives Congress (APC) chieftain stressed.