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Last Updated: Monday, 28 March, 2005, 12:17 GMT 13:17 UK
Nigerian's war against corruption
Nuhu Ribadu
Nuhu Ribadu faces a mammoth task
Nigeria has acquired a terrible worldwide reputation for corruption and financial crimes, including 419 scams. The BBC's Yusuf Mohammed profiles the man tasked with fighting the fraudsters.

When Nuhu Ribadu was appointed to run the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, which was set up three years ago, he memorably told a reporter that his ambition was to bring the rich and the powerful to justice.

But during that time, he has discovered just what a difficult job he has.

Despite his successes, Nigeria remains ranked as the world's third most corrupt county by Transparency International, much to the annoyance of President Olusegun Obasanjo, who placed the war against corruption at the heart of his administration.


The 45-year-old policeman maintains that the battle against money-laundering and other forms of financial crimes is winnable, even in Nigeria.

President Olusegun Obasanjo
Obasanjo has talked tough on corruption since 1999
But he stresses that it is vital that the judiciary, and Nigerians as a whole, need to accept how damaging financial crime is to the country.

He compares his battle to that the Americans are waging against terrorism.

Mr Ribadu once told me he works an average of 18 hours a day, which leaves him little time for the family or to enjoy his love of films.

However, the man of diminutive stature seems to be afraid of nothing.

One of his aides told me that whenever relatives caution the EFCC boss to be careful, because of the kind of people he antagonises while carrying out his duties, he simply says, "You are either dead or living."

A lawyer by training, Mr Ribadu attended the Ahmadu Bello University in Zaria, and graduated in 1983.

He subsequently joined the Nigeria police and is today an assistant commissioner.


When the EFCC was established three years ago, he was called upon to lead the commission.

Former Education Minister Fabian Osuji
Education minister Fabian Osuji believes he is a "scapegoat"
Barely 10 days after he started work at the commission, he announced the arrest of a federal legislator, who allegedly defrauded a German firm of more than $300,000.

Ever since, he has continued with the same zeal.

This year, in cooperation with London's Metropolitan Police, the commission have been trying to bring Plateau State Governor Joshua Dariye to justice on money laundering charges.

Other achievements include producing enough evidence to force the Nigerian government to drop Tafa Balogun as inspector-general of police.

Billions of naira, illegally acquired, were allegedly traced to the policeman's accounts by operatives of the commission.

And now the minister of education has been sacked, following revelations from the commission that the minister bribed legislators with a view to getting them to inflate his ministry's budgetary allocation.

He has denied the allegations and vowed to sue, saying the whole case is about political rivalries.

Convictions in court are proving difficult to secure, but it seems that three years on, Mr Ribadu is making his mark among the rich and powerful.


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