Mallam Nuhu Ribadu: First Executive Chairman of the EFCC

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Mallam Nuhu Ribadu mni is a former Nigerian police officer, fearless anti-corruption fighter, politician, and distinguished Abusite who was the Chairman of the Petroleum Revenue Task Force and a former Nigerian government anti-corruption official.

He was the pioneer Executive Chairman of Nigeria’s Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), the government commission tasked with countering corruption and fraud. In April 2009, he became a visiting fellow at the Center for Global Development.

Mallam Nuhu Ribadu
Mallam Nuhu Ribadu

A trained lawyer and fearless crime fighter, Ribadu has carved a niche for himself as someone who is patriotic, passionate, honest, courageous and compassionate

Birth and Education of Nuhu Ribadu

Nuhu Ribadu was born in Yola, Adamawa State, on November 21, 1960. He attended Aliyu Mustapha Primary School, Yola from 1966 to 1973 and Yelwa Government Secondary School, Yola from 1973-1977.

Between 1978 and 1980, he was at the College of Preliminary Studies, CPS, Yola, for his A-level studies. In 1980, he gained admission to study law at Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria, graduating in 1983. He subsequently graduated from the Nigerian Law School and was called to the bar in 1984.

Ribadu holds an LLM degree with an emphasis on the jurisprudence of corruption in Nigeria from the Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria. In 2008, he was at the Harvard Business School where he did a program in the strategic management of law enforcement agencies. He is a TED Fellow and a Senior Fellow in St. Antony’s College, University of Oxford, UK.

Law enforcement Career

He joined the Police immediately after his national service where he served in various capacities until the Nigerian president, Olusegun Obasanjo appointed him to the chairmanship of the EFCC in 2003 and reappointed him in 2007, substantially retiring as an Assistant Inspector General of Police.

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On 20 October 2006, Nuhu Ribadu told the BBC that over 380 billion dollars had been stolen or wasted by Nigerian governments since independence in 1960. 

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Under Ribadu’s administration, the EFCC charged prominent bankers, former State governors, ministers, senators, high-ranking political party members, commissioners of Police, and advance fee fraud (“419”) gang operators.

The EFCC issued thousands of indictments and achieved about 270 convictions. One notable case was that of his boss, the then Inspector-General of the Nigerian Police Force, Mr. Tafa Balogun, who was convicted, jailed and made to return £150 million under a plea bargain.

Ribadu’s achievements in the EFCC included the de-listing of Nigeria from the FATF List of Non-Cooperative Countries & Territories, admission into the prestigious Egmont Group, and the withdrawal of the US Treasury FINCEN Advisory on Nigeria.

They helped make the EFCC the foremost Anti-Corruption Enforcement Agency on the continent, cementing Ribadu’s reputation in the world as a respected anti-corruption crusader.

Nuhu Ribadu’s evidence helped prosecute foreign businesses who offered bribes while doing business in Nigeria.

His major tribute to the anti-corruption crusade was his selflessness, resilience, and exemplary conduct in his spirited fight against the cankerworm. With uncommon commitment and dedication to duty, Ribadu worked assiduously to clean the Aegean stable created by grafts and frauds.

Ribadu regularly inspires youths to become the change they seek. At the fourth edition of “Project Mentor-Me” organized by Group of Patriotic Corpers (GPC), a non-profit group in Abuja, he got the audience to take a critical look at their life choices and how it shapes their future.

During the course of his duty, Ribadu was offered bribes to pervert the course of justice, amongst these was a State governor who offered Ribadu $15 million and a house abroad.

Interviewed from Washington D.C. on the BBC’s Hardtalk programme, Ribadu said that he took the money and used the bribe as evidence to prosecute the state governor.

In December 2007, the then Inspector-General of Police Mike Okiro ordered that Ribadu be temporarily removed from the position of EFCC chairman and ordered him to attend the National Institute of Policy and Strategic Studies (NIPSS) in Kuru, Jos, Plateau State for a mandatory one-year course.

The decision was criticized by, among others, Nobel Laureate Wole Soyinka, Chief Edwin Ume-Ezeoke as politically motivated and/or likely to set back the fight against corruption.

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On 22 December 2008, as widely predicted, he was dismissed from the Nigerian Police force by the Nigerian Police Service Commission (PSC).

Ribadu escaped two assassination attempts in Nigeria before he left Nigeria for the United Kingdom in early 2009 and in April assumed a fellowship at the Center for Global Development.

Political career

In a quest for a higher call to service, Ribadu who was in exile until 2010, returned to Nigeria and declared his intention to run for President of Nigeria under the platform of the Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN). On Friday, 14 January 2011, Nuhu Ribadu was adopted as the presidential candidate of the ACN.

He lost the Presidential elections and in August 2014, he defected to the ruling party PDP with the intention to run for the Governorship of Adamawa State, North-East Nigeria. An election that he also lost.

Other notable events

On 15 April 2008, Nuhu Ribadu received the World Bank’s 2008 Jit Gill Memorial Award for Outstanding Public Service, for having led a courageous anti-corruption drive in Nigeria, as Head of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).

On 4 August 2008, the Police Service Commission in Nigeria announced the demotion of Mr. Ribadu from Assistant Inspector-General of Police (AIG) to Deputy Commissioner of Police. Former President Olusegun Obasanjo had promoted Ribadu to AIG weeks before the end of his tenure in office in 2007.

On 22 November 2008, his graduation from the NIPSS Kuru, Plateau State was aborted at the last minute. Mallam Nuhu Ribadu, who was initially seated in the hall along with other graduands, was ordered out of the hall allegedly on orders from top administration officials. There were condemnations from all over the world for his treatment.

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In June 2010, Ribadu was awarded the Doctor of Laws (honoris causa) by Babcock University, Ogun State, in recognition of his “resolute courage” as well as his “fierce stance against corruption in the face of sponsored disgrace and certain death that has resulted in positive changes and global acclaim hitherto considered impossible”.

On 8 December 2018, he bagged a global lifetime achievement award on the anti-corruption campaign. The award was administered by Qatar-based think-tank, Rule of Law and Anti-corruption Centre (ROLACC)

He was also specially commended by the Accountant General of the Federation for successfully prosecuting some corrupt public servants in 1999.

Since 2004, notable newspapers and magazines in Nigeria have repeatedly voted Ribadu as Man of the Year, in recognition of his outstanding achievements as a committed crusader against corruption and other related crimes.

On Friday, December 7, 2018, Mallam Nuhu Ribadu stood before a global audience in Putrajaya, Malaysia—at the 2018 International Anti-corruption Day celebrations—as joint winner, with Leonard McCarthy, a former Vice President of Institutional Integrity at the World Bank Group, of this year’s Sheikh Tamim Bin Hamad Al Thani International Anti-Corruption Excellence Award in the Lifetime/Outstanding Achievement category.

The Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al-Thani International Anti-Corruption Excellence Award is presented annually on International Anti-Corruption Day (9th December) in “recognition and appreciation to those who have contributed to the global campaign against corruption.

The award recognizes individuals and organizations that have dedicated themselves to combat corruption in some capacity.

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