Former Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) chairman, Mallam Nuhu Rubadu Wednesday said he was still “paying dearly” for his efforts to rid the country of corruption.
He spoke in Abuja at a National Stakeholders’ Workshop on the Recovery and Management of Recovered Assets, organised by the Presidential Advisory Committee Against Corruption (PACAC), in collaboration with the Commonwealth Secretariat.
Ribadu denied tampering with recovered assets while at EFCC and also said if previous governments had made efforts to fight corruption, it won’t be so endemic in the country.
He also said highly placed government officials frustrated the commission’s work, leading to his removal from office and halting the progress being made in the anti-graft war.
“Somebody was brought in to destroy the agency. It was a tragedy,” Ribadu said.
Ribadu, who gave the keynote speech with the theme: Assets Recovery in Nigeria: Experiences from the past, said he had no regrets, even though he was still paying the price for stepping on some toes.
He also denied allegations that he allegedly re-looted recovered assets, including N1 trillion, and expressed surprise that it was a subject of Senate investigation.
He said: “Considering the care we took in handling whatever was in our custody, I find it baffling and disheartening when I hear people make insinuations about how we handled recovered assets.
“It is a most unfair remark but certainly not totally surprising as the fight against corruption is essentially a thankless job, especially in our climes.
“That was why I was telling Prof Sagay: ‘Don’t bother sir, people will abuse you; don’t say anything. This is the job’.
“We are hurting people; we are taking things from those who took things and we denied them chance to make use of them and enjoy and with their family.
“I’m still paying dearly. In my own madness, I decided to go into politics and I am still paying for it. But I am not bothered. I’ll continue fighting till my last breath. If I’m given the opportunity I’ll do it again.”
He described EFCC chairman Ibrahim Magu as “a good, courageous and honest guy”.
Ribadu said: “We have the most vital tool needed in this war, namely political will. I see in the present leadership, specifically the president, the will to allow the war to be fought without interference and the eagerness to support it in whatever way possible. These two points are important prerequisite in winning the anti-corruption war.
“We are also lucky to have a set of people, including Vice-President Yemi Osinbajo (SAN) who are very passionate and committed to be in charge of the process,” he said.