Former Minister of the Federal Capital Territory, Mallam Nasir el-Rufai, has alleged that Mallam Nuhu Ribadu tried to incriminate former President Umaru Yar’Adua.
This he said happened when former President Olusegun Obasanjo showed a preference for Yar’Adua as his successor and not El-Rufai or the former chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission.
El-Rufai said this in his new book, The Accidental Public Servant.
El-Rufai also alluded to the insistence of Ribadu to be made Obasanjo’s successor in the book.
He said the former boss of the anti-graft agency was livid with anger the day Yar’Adua informed him that Obasanjo had asked him to pick the Peoples Democratic Party’s presidential nomination form.
“Well, Obasanjo has not told me, and as far as the Presidency is concerned, I have my candidate for the presidency, and that is Nasir el-Rufai. I am going to speak to Obasanjo about this,” Ribadu had told Yar’Adua, according to el-Rufai.
He said when it dawned on Ribadu that Obasanjo was in support of Yar’Adua, the former police boss started looking for incriminating petitions against him.
El-Rufai wrote, “Nuhu’s instinctive reaction was that of a typical policeman – dusted up EFCC files and combed for petitions against Umaru.
“Nuhu did not realise it at that time, but he was the one in trouble, not Obasanjo or Umaru. He dusted up all his files and found petitions against the then Katsina State governor and launched investigations.
“He was clearly trying to take Yar’Adua out of the race and narrow all options to zero except for el-Rufai,” he said.
The investigations, he said, led to the arrest of local government chairmen in the state, on the allegation of diversion of local government funds.
The former minister said he had to persuade Ribadu to stop the investigations, saying that people would read meanings into all his actions.
“Anything you do henceforth will only just confirm what people say about you –that you target people that threaten certain interests. If you had been investigating Yar’Adua for a year beforehand, that would have been different, but you were not. It is too late to start now,” el-Rufai claimed he had told Ribadu.
El-Rufai also said leaving office as the President of Nigeria in 2003 was very painful for Obasanjo.
Writing under the sub-headline, ‘The final breakfast,’ el-Rufai said the former President looked pale and sad the day he was going to hand over power to his successor, the late President Umaru Yar’Adua.
He said rather than being happy, Obasanjo looked as if he was going to be killed.
He wrote, “The sentiment of the breakfast was for the most part upbeat, though it struck me that Obasanjo, that morning, looked like he had grown several years older.
“He looked as if he was about to face death – his skin was sallow and it was very clear that this was difficult for him, like someone in the final hours before heading to the electric chair.
“He did not eat any breakfast, he just had some tea. I never thought of losing power as being that painful, but he was visibly pained.”
But a source close to the former President said that el-Rufai, who was Minister of the Federal Capital Territory under Obasanjo, said he (el-Rufai) decided to deride the former President because he did not anoint him as his successor.
He said el-Rufai had thought that the former President would put him forward as his preferred choice instead of supporting Yar’Adua.
The source said that the former Chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, Mallam Nuhu Ribadu, had told Obasanjo to narrow the search for his successor to only the former minister of the FCT.
The source, also a former minister, said, “el-Rufai is bellyaching. He has not forgiven Obasanjo for not asking him to pick the PDP presidential nomination form, unlike Yar’Adua.
“He, with Ribadu backing him, had thought that the President would make him his natural successor. The anger of his rejection manifested in his new book.”