Ex-EFCC Boss, Farida Waziri Exposes Jonathan, Others In New Book
Come Tuesday February 11, 2020 inside the Ladi Kwali Halls and Conference Centre, Sheraton Hotels, Abuja, former Chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, Mrs Farida Waziri would finally present to the public her debut memoir, One Step Ahead-Life As A Spy, Detective And Anti-Graft Czar, where she exposed the shenanigans of the Nigeria’s political class.
Farida, in the book, exposed intrigues which trailed her tenure and an attempt to scandalise her out of office.
Farida revealed that she was sacked by former President Goodluck Jonathan over her attempt to arrest some oil racketeers. Farida said there was a call from the Presidential Villa not to arrest the racketeers, but she refused to be compromised on the case.
The excerpts from the book read: “The date was November 23, 2011. It didn’t take me by surprise. There had been rumblings and manoeuvrings in the recent past to guess such an end was in the offing. The last straw that broke the camel’s back was an EFCC operation in Lagos.
“The agency got a tip-off about some oil racketeers who were in Nigeria for dubious dealings. People of interest were going to move money into Lagos. The tip-off came from outside the country, one of our reliable foreigner (sic) agents. We flew into Lagos and organised the operation. Detectives moved to the target office, to conduct a search and bring the suspect to Abuja. At the time they got into the office, the target was not on seat. “I’d asked the team to invite the accountant and to bring along the computers. Few minutes after the arrival of the accountant and the machines, I got a call from Aso Rock, the Presidential Villa.
“The message was an order: ‘Release the man immediately!’ My calm explanation to the voice from the Villa was ‘The person you are calling for is not arrested; it is his accountant we invited here.’
‘Ok, let the accountant go.’
“That put me in a dilemma. We had acted on intelligence. We spent days planning the operation. And indeed, we had on our hands a good case complete with evidence. How do I explain to my operatives that the case has to be jettisoned because of a call from Aso Rock? How do I disabuse their minds from thinking I had compromised?
“I asked the detectives to take the accountant’s statement and release him on bail. While we were at it, the caller from the Villa interrupted us again with another order: ‘Release the computers to him.’
He tried to justify this by claiming, ‘he contributed so much to the campaign of President Goodluck Jonathan.’ “At that point, I asked him: ‘Is this instruction from Mr. President?’
‘Yes’, the voice affirmed.
“I played my last card: ‘I can release the man on bail, but I won’t release the computers.”
“How did it end?”
“The outcome was my sack a few weeks later. I guess this and other events contributed to my removal, although other events took place before this.”
She said the late Minister for Information, Prof. Dora Akunyili, knew of the plot to remove her and asked her to beg Jonathan. But she said she rejected Akunyili’s advice because it was totally against her “conscience and moral judgment.”
“The handwriting was on the wall a long time ago. My friend, the Minister for Information, Prof. Dora Akunyili, was the first person to hint me about the coming bombshell. Months earlier, she warned me of a plan to oust me from office.
“Out of concern, she advised me to go and see President Goodluck Jonathan. She told me what to say to the President. However, her advice was totally against my conscience and moral judgement, and I rejected the idea. “A few weeks later, Prof Akunyili called me to her office. “Sister, didn’t I advise you on what to do but you refused; now they have decided to remove you. Be prepared. Start packing your things little by little.
“Prof Akunyili had good connections to Aso Villa and couldn’t have been unsure of what she heard. I went back to my office and started packing my stuff gradually.
The former anti-graft czar said another highly-placed source said those in and around the Presidency did not like her because she did not contribute money for Jonathan’s elections in 2011.
As part of the countdown to her removal, she said Jonathan once summoned her on the rumours about her in office. During the encounter, Jonathan asked her if she would like to go and rest, but she was quick to reply if the ex-President wanted to sack her.
She said Jonathan only muttered: “No”.
Farida said she was courageous enough to tell Jonathan not to throw her to the wolves.
The woman also revealed that former Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Anyim Pius Anyim, offered her ambassadorial appointment in line with the agenda to oust her from office.
According to Farida, she was on the street of Abuja when the then Head of Media and Publicity at EFCC, Femi Babafemi, broke the news of her sack by Jonathan to her on November 23, 2011 after spending three and a half years in charge of the anti-graft agency.
She said late President Umar Musa Yar’Adua was more committed to the anti-graft war than any other person. She said the death of Yar’Adua left her vulnerable because his demise broke the spine of the fight against corruption.
Speaking on the book, Farida, the author said: “Through this book, I am rendering my account by presenting my mosaic experience – as Special Branch operative, as pioneer head of the Special Fraud Unit (SFU), as a detective at CID, as Commissioner of Police, as former chair of EFCC, as wife of Nigeria’s ambassador to Turkey, and as a lawyer that sat through one of the stormy moments of this country and witnessed first-hand behind-the-scene happenings that form part of Nigeria’s development history.
“Myths and mythologies about Nigeria’s endemic corruption are due to the chameleonic forms of the scourge. I had the privilege to dissect the problem from the vantage position of being at the helm of SFU and EFCC, and I have simplified the anatomy of fraud and public office corruption in Nigeria. The trove of facts in the book belongs to the public. I have simply held them in trust for so long. I have no right to covet them. And having held them for so long, I have decided it is time to declassify them by putting them into a book form. This is the main motivation for the memoir.”
The crème of Nigerian social establishments led by Nigeria’s Vice President, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo and former Head of State, Gen. Yakubu Gowon will be among high profile guests of hers at the public presentation on Tuesday. Also on the list of eminent Nigerians expected at the occasion to join the Vice President Osinbajo —as the special guest of honour— and Gen. Gowon who is the chairman of the event, include former First Lady, Hajia Turai Yar’Adua, as mother of the day, while many state governors, ministers, top security chiefs, captains of industries and other distinguished Nigerians are expected as guests of honour.
Since her retirement and exit as EFCC boss, Farida has kept herself busy as the founder and principal partner of Brookfield Chambers, a firm of legal practitioners based in Abuja. She has also been spending her extra time on philanthropy and social work.