The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), under the chairmanship Nuhu Ribadu, was used to witch-hunt perceived political enemies of former President Olusegun Obasanjo particularly anti-third term governors within the ruling party, a leaked confidential US diplomatic cable published by a whistleblower, Wikileaks, said.
It said, "The EFCC has focused on obvious opponents of President Obasanjo, mostly those who opposed amending the constitution to permit a third term for the president."
The cable, titled "Nigeria's EFCC: The Temple of Janus," and forwarded to the US government by Ambassador John Campbell in 2006, said, like Rome's two-faced Janus, "Ribadu sees himself as Nigeria's God of Doors, Gates, Beginnings and Endings through which all Nigerians must pass," and operated "without regard for Nigeria's laws or civil rights protections."
It said at some point between 2002 and 2005, the EFCC expanded its role into areas contrary to the Act establishing the anti-graft body thereby, turning the EFFC into "the exclusive chiefdom of its Chairman."
The cable said unlike other Federal Government agencies, "There is no evidence that anyone, but Ribadu (and ostensibly the president) decides who the EFCC will investigate."
It added that, 'Nearly all the anti-Obasanjo southern governors within the ruling party have been subjects of EFCC investigations and have had members of their staff arrested. This has not happened to the governors that support Obasanjo. Although it is an open secret that bribes changed hands during the third term debate, the EFCC appears uninterested in investigating that matter. In fact, Ribadu said that even with the eyewitness reports of money changing hands in the bank along with license plate numbers and description, he needed "more evidence" from the public before he could investigate.
"The August 11 arrest of Mohammed Ba-bangida, son of former head of state and possible presidential contender, General Ibrahim Babangida, was another move in the political chess game. Further, he was held without charge at least 24 hours longer than the 48 hours allowed under the Nigerian constitution.
"The only major government figure prosecuted as a result of EFCC action was former Inspector General of Police, Tafa Balogun and he, despite having taken almost 18 billion Naira, reportedly had negotiated a six month jail sentence. According to a November 2005 EFCC press release, Balogun pleaded guilty to 8 of 56 charges and was ordered to pay back N4 million. An old Obasanjo's crony, with 67 days time served, he spent less than 4 more months in prison. Two months of that was in a hospital for illness.
"A second EFCC investigation resulted in the arrest of Bayelsa Governor Alamesiya. In the run up to the arrest, President Obasanjo and the governor reportedly had a heated discussion in which the President tried to draft the governor's support for a third term or at the very least end the governor's alliance with Vice President Atiku.
"Obasanjo reportedly warned the governor he would pursue a criminal case against him if he did not join leagues with him. Shortly thereafter, he was arrested in London after Ribadu had visited London and learned of the governor's plans to travel there. Subsequently, the governor fled back to Nigeria while on bail; was removed from office; and rearrested in Nigeria.
"To remove him from office, the EFCC illegally detained Bayelsa State Assembly members, and threatened to open investigations against them if they did not impeach the governor. A similar scenario is now being played out against the governor of Plateau State."