The former Chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, Mrs. Farida Waziri, on Wednesday described as “blatant falsehood,” the claim by ex-President Olusegun Obasanjo that she was recommended for the EFCC job by convicted former Delta State Governor, James Ibori.
Expressing surprise that a man who has been twice a Nigerian leader would “descend so low to peddle falsehood,” Waziri warned Obasanjo to respect his age or else she would “open up on him.”
“I will like to warn that those who live in glass houses don’t throw stones and as such Obasanjo should not allow me open up on him. Respectable elder statesmen act and speak with decorum”, she said in a statement personally signed by her.
Ex-Vice-President Atiku Abubakar said the claim by the former President that he was persona non grata in the United States, was not true.
Obasanjo had in an interview he granted Zero Tolerance, a magazine published by the EFCC, also said that the war against corruption in the country slowed down during Waziri’s tenure because she was not qualified for the job.
He had said, “Go and look at her track record. Go and look at the condition or the qualification; go and look at the type of interaction that anybody holding that job will have with a similar organisation elsewhere; did Waziri have that type? What connection did she have with FBI? What relationship did she have with Metropolitan Police in London? It’s not a picnic.”
But Waziri, in the statement which showed her level of anger, said she doubted if Obasanjo could boast her level of education.
The EFCC former chairman then went ahead to reel out her educational qualification and her relationship with international security agencies while serving in the Nigeria Police Force for 35 years.
She said, “Again for the record, I served in the NPF for 35 years and got to the pinnacle of my career before my appointment as the EFCC chairman. If Obasanjo’s real age has not blurred his memory, I will like to remind him that I was a Commissioner of Police, Admin Force CID, CP, General Investigations, CP, Anti-fraud, CP , X squad, CP, and Police Special Fraud Unit where I secured the first conviction in a case of Advance Fee Fraud in Nigerian history.
“These are all prime investigative organs of the Nigeria Police where I related with other law enforcement agencies, including the FBI across the world. I must place on record that at the SFU, I did not only relate with the FBI, Interpol and the Metpolice, among others , we carried out joint operations at different times on a number of cases. I have also led the Nigerian delegation to the Interpol headquarters in France.
“To further expose the height of mischief in the allegations, the past and present chairmen of the EFCC have both worked under me; yet someone can open his mouth to say I am not qualified to head the same agency. This is in addition to my educational qualifications such as a first degree in Law, a Master’s degree in Law and another Master’s degree in Strategic Studies. I doubt if Obasanjo himself can boast this level of educational qualifications.
“I will also like to remind Obasanjo that no chairman of the EFCC has till date beaten my records in terms of investigation of high profile cases, prosecution, conviction and recovery.”
She told Obasanjo that the Act establishing the EFCC stipulates that the chairman shall ‘be a serving or retired member of any government security or law enforcement agency not below the rank of Assistant Commissioner of Police or equivalent; and possess not less than 15 years cognate experience’.
Waziri said while she holds the office of a Head of State in the highest esteem, it was necessary to put on the record for the umpteenth time, that the claim that Ibori recommended her for the EFCC job “ is a totally unfounded, blatant lie.”
The ex-anti graft Czar added, “The truth is that I never met Ibori in my life until after months in office as chairman of the EFCC when I used to see him in the Presidential Villa.
It is on record today that I initiated the investigation that drove Ibori into the waiting hands of the Interpol and the Metpolice.
“As such, it is illogical and nonsensical for anyone to continue to insinuate that Ibori had a hand in my appointment. I remember this was one of the lies Obasanjo’s sit-tight pawns cooked to stop my appointment as the EFCC chairman in 2008.”
According to her, the late President Umaru Yar’Adua did not have to alter the Act “when he was appointing me unlike what Obasanjo did.”
She told the former President that ability to be used to victimise political enemies in the rabid pursuit of his third term agenda “has never been part of the qualifications for appointment as chairman of the anti-graft agency.”