Former President Olusegun Obasanjo said the activities of the then chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), Malam Nuhu Ribadu, created enemies for him because of the ruthlessness with which the latter went about his assignment to address the scourge of corruption on Nigeria.
He admitted that fighting corruption attracts a lot of enemies but added that he has no fear of those persons who are still alive in Nigeria. "It is rather them that fear me," he said.
The former president was speaking from the floor after a presentation on "Illicit Financial Flow and Governance of Natural Resources" by Mallam Ribadu at the 3rd Tana High Level Forum on Security in Africa in Badir Dar, Ethiopia, yesterday.
Obasanjo, who said he made it clear to Ribadu that there should be no sacred cows in the fight against corruption, recalled that the EFCC then investigated him, and other people close to him, including his late wife.
He also narrated a story of how a serving minister, who was his senior in secondary school, was indicted and prosecuted by the EFCC, adding that when the minister, was found wanting, "there was no issue of senior again"..
Talking of vested interests in the anti-corruption war, Obasanjo told a story for the first time of how Ribadu was once poisoned which he said was a very serious case that was "a matter of life and death."
The former president, who is also the chairperson of the Tana Forum, reechoed Ribadu's submission that at the centre of anti-corruption fight there is the need for willing political leadership at the highest level.
He however added that the leader also needs relevant legislations to work with, narrating his experience with the bill establishing ICPC which, he said, was whittled down by lawmakers who felt they could be victims of the law.
In his remarks, the Prime Minister of Ethiopia, Hailemariam Desalegn, thanked Ribadu for his presentation, which, he said, highlighted many good things about Nigeria different from what is portrayed in the media.
In his presentation, Ribadu offered measures African countries can follow to tackle illicit financial flows and repatriate money already illegally taken out of the continents.
He said what Africa needs is honest and committed leaders who will set examples with themselves by eschewing corruption and close in avenues of illicit financial flow.
According to him, it is the seriousness and commitment showed by the political leadership that will convince other foreign countries to work with them towards recovering looted monies stashed abroad.