Mrs. Farida Mzamber Waziri, a retired Assistant Inspector General of Police, chaired the Economic and Financial Crimes between 2008 and 2011. In this interactive session with journalists, she speaks on her stewardship at the anti-graft commission, reveals how she was appointed by the then President Umaru Musa Yarâ€™Adua, the concerted efforts to undermine her work, and her relationship with AGF Michael Aondoakaa. Tokunbo Adedoja was there. Excerpts:
Your time at EFCC was enmeshed in many controversies, do you think this was because you are a woman or it just happened so?
I think, one, do I say I came at a wrong time; at that time I was not in the country, I was in Turkey with my husband and we just returned from that posting, and the Chairman at the time, Nuhu, was being removed amidst controversy, and that controversy rubbed off on me. The typical Nigerians thought I was gunning for the job.
The second reason was because I am a woman and many people didnâ€™t want a woman in that sensitive position. Again some of them who knew my antecedent didnâ€™t want this particular woman because in the force I held sensitive positions, I donâ€™t suffer fools gladly and you know how women are, they cherish their reputation so much; many things that men can do for money, where they can even sell their mothers for money, women canâ€™t do that. Those were the three reasons and people then went all out to ensure that I was not confirmed by the Senate at all, they did so many things. Eventually when I was confirmed, some of them told me to my face that they were giving me three months and during the three months, they receded to the background then started campaign of calumny against my person. They cooked up, garnished stories about me, stories that I was not connected with.
You will recall at a time I asked if there were two Farida Waziris? It was so amazing and they did all of that so that I will be thrown out but the truth prevailed. You can deceive some people some time but you canâ€™t deceive all of the people at the same time. Iâ€™ll tell you one example: I was fought locally, nationally and internationally; when they saw that I was working and obeying the rule of law â€“ because the late President Yarâ€™Adua, called me and said to me, â€˜Farida, I donâ€™t want Gestapo method, follow due process and the rule of law, we will give you the necessary protection and the wherewithal to do this job and remain focused.â€™ Anytime I was depressed (on the job) I always remember what Mr. President said to me and he gave me attention and access to the Villa, I was free to see him anytime that I needed to see him.
A letter went out to the United States purportedly written by the Director General of the State Security Services, SSS, it was a voluminous report and it was titled â€˜Security Report on the activities of Farida Waziri.â€™ You know if I am working in a sensitive organisation for my country and report on me was going out from my country to a foreign country it means I am a security threat to my country. I worked in the SSS before, we started the SSS, the Special Branch of the force moved to the Nigerian Security Organisation, NSO, on 15 Awolowo, Ikoyi (Lagos) before I went back to the Police Force so I know the working system, we had traces, and you must become a security threat to your country before reports are written about youâ€¦ So I had so many challenges, it was only God that saved me and because of the support of late President Yarâ€™Adua, a great, gentle man and a courageous leader. Even when sickness weighed him down he was such a great man, I survived it all because of his support.
Even when I went to the State Department I saw all of these things, it affected me somehow but I remained focused.
But was there any time when you wanted to just throw in the towel when you became so overwhelmed?
It was very difficult for me, I am a human being, my family stood by me, my late husband and my children stood by me, they gave me the support that I needed. And then there were some patriotic Nigerians that knew what was happening and encouraged me to carry on, but above all, it was Mr. President. He was wonderful to me. One day he called me and said to me, â€˜Farida, you have to be careful, you have enemies;â€™ I said to him, I know. Then two weeks after somebody went to him and told him things about me, and when he called me and told me all that the person had said, I collapsed and started crying. I was uncontrollable because it was too much. Then he said to me, â€˜Farida, I told you somebody told me all of that about you, did I tell you I believe them?â€™ I said to him, â€˜Sir so you donâ€™t believe them,â€™ and then I wiped my tears; so it was that bad.
When I went to the United States, I went to the Department of State, I went to Clintonâ€™s office, I went to the Department of Justice after that I addressed the Council on Foreign Relations, I had another meeting in town, my handlers said I should just go in quietly, by the time I was through with the third meeting they knew I was around. I think it was Sahara Reporters, they carried placards saying Farida Waziri Ole, Yarâ€™Adua Ole. That is hate speech and hate attitude demonstrated in a foreign country and when the car that was to take me away arrived they wanted to force themselves into the car, they would have caught me. What did I do to them? It was so personalised, but working in EFCC I also know why some people made it so personal. It was due to their selfish interest, it had nothing to do with my competence.
If you were given another opportunity what would you have done differently?
If I am given another opportunity there is very little that I would have done differently. For instance, I wanted some special courts, I went to the Chief Justice of The Federation, the Attorney General, I went to the President of the Court of Appeal, I met with the Nigerian Bar Association, NBA, I engaged with Civil Society Organisations because cases were not moving and it was a disgrace to the image of the country that a case that is not murder, treason or treasonable felony will last for 10 years. The local people call the cases come today, come tomorrow and they shied away from coming forward to testify in the cases and the cases became endless.
When I mooted the idea of the special courts it was as if I committed treason, people descended on me but today I have been vindicated, a Daniel has come to judgment. Chief Justice Onnoghen should be awarded the Person of the Year for his courage. Operating at the highest court in the land he must have seen a lot of what was going on.
I was not saying the justices were not working, I have a lot of them as friends, very honest people, men of honour in fact I felt sorry for a lot of them; if you saw their court lists, one person was trying murder cases, rape cases, internet crime, bank fraud, stealing cases, advanced fee fraud cases and Ponzi schemes cases, one person. So I felt why donâ€™t they specialise especially with the emerging new kinds of crime; society is not static. The time when people steal a pot of soup and when people shout thief and the person starts running is long gone. Today, there more sophisticated crimes and new modus operandi to committing crime, so that was where I was coming from when I mooted the idea of a special court. So today, I feel so vindicated and I feel so happy that what I started and I was abused over, something people called me names over has seen the light of the day through the CJN; that is a man after my heart. Some of the people that descended on me are the ones who are also clapping now. Thatâ€™s Nigeria for you.
You lost your husband recently, what do you miss most about him?
He was a pillar of strength. He was a very courageous man. You find a lot of men in this country that are so lily-livered so much that if you want to tell them the truth you have to get an ambulance handy because they will collapse but my husband was very courageous, hard working and very strong. He went to the Senate twice, he was an ambassador, he had held key sensitive positions in this country; when I was in office whenever I returned home he was always there with whatever reports that was published about me especially from Sahara Reporters and he would say donâ€™t worry about it. So I miss the kind of love, care and attention I used to get from him a lot. Thatâ€™s why it was so painful, but my son was given his title immediately people were trying to contest the title, the community quickly took the decision and awarded him the title and there was jubilation in the community when we were still crying. That aspect consoled me to some extent.
Did you have any premonition about his death?
I didnâ€™t, as a Muslim, I believe when the time comes there is nothing that you can do. My only regret was that â€¦ As a Muslim, when we were going to India, he said to me, â€˜you know there is nothing that I like about that country, not even the food; the country is so choking, you canâ€™t even take a stroll like you would do in London,â€™ so I say letâ€™s go to London and we tried to get a ticket from India to London, but it was so expensive so I was the one who encouraged him. I told him that letâ€™s just go and when we get back from the treatment in India we will then go to London, and then I lost my daughter too, who anytime we were in London and we do not have money for hotel, we always spend the time in her apartment, she had a three bedroom apartment, so I told him sheâ€™s not there anymore, the hotels are quite expensive and we canâ€™t afford the hotel bill. He didnâ€™t want to go to India, if I knew that was going to be the end I would never have taken him to India.
That was my only regret. I shouldnâ€™t have taken him to India and when we went and they saw him, they kept assuring me he will be okay until all the money we had finished, then I reached out to some people back in Nigeria and when they sent money to me it went straight to the bank account of the hospital and then he passed on, yet they took all the money and still told me weâ€™re still owing them. That was the only experience that I try to put behind me. As I said whenever it will happen it will happen.
That was quite a sad story, You alluded to the fact that the timing of your appointment contributed to the challenges that you faced while in office. Would you also agree that the circumstances surrounding your appointment, you came at the time that the then Chairman of EFCC, Nuhu Ribadu, was perceived as doing a good job. At the time he was leaving, first they promoted him, he was then demoted, government that appointed him had just left and then those that were being tried by EFCC suddenly became so close to the seat of power; there was also the unconfirmed report that one of those people was responsible for your nomination. How would you react to this?
Iâ€™ve heard that cock and bull story. They were talking of (former Governor James) Ibori, I never knew him, can you nominate someone that you donâ€™t know? I saw him for the first time at the Villa because I do go to the Villa while I was in office but I never knew him and he couldnâ€™t have nominated me. I think some of the appointments were lobbied for, but I donâ€™t lobby for jobs. When I came back from Turkey, I was told to bring my CV. But let me say something, when EFCC was created, all my former bosses that I had worked with in Alagbon, including at the Special Fraud Unit where I was commissioner of Police, Special Fraud Unit, 13 Milverton Street Ikoyi, Lagos, were moved to the EFCC, and I was asked to submit my CV, I did. I was approached for the first time at EFCC for the chairmanship but somebody said I should lobby but I said I donâ€™t loby for jobs and I donâ€™t advise people to lobby for jobs. You might just lobby yourself into hell; so I donâ€™t. If it comes fine.
I didnâ€™t know Ibori. When I came back again, I was approached to submit my CV for two things, either the National Drugs Law Enforcement Agency, NDA, and I told them I wonâ€™t do drugs; I did 419 job once and I nearly lost my life, now I donâ€™t want to do drugs. Then I was told they wanted to expand the board of the EFCC, I was told they collected about 11 CVs and took it to Mr. President and according to the information that I got, Mr. President took my CV and asked that â€˜who is this woman?â€™ I never knew President Yarâ€™Adua. My CV is very rich, there was no job that I didnâ€™t do when I was in the police force including undercover job. In fact the Attorney General (Michael Aondoakaa) came to my place sweating, he was from the same place with me but he never wanted me there. He didnâ€™t know my residence either.
My husband was upstairs when he came, he told me that the â€˜President had shocked everybody. He picked your CV and said he wanted you for the job, but I donâ€™t think you would want to do the job. the press will tear you apart. It is better you take that of NDLEA, the letter will come out.â€™ I asked him that did Mr. President ask you to come and ask me?, he said yes. I doubted that then went upstairs to invite my husband, when he came downstairs and listened to him, he said, â€˜well as a patriotic Nigeria, a policewoman and as a lawyer, any assignment given to her by the government she canâ€™t say no.â€™ So he said she will take the job. Later Mr. President sent for me and my husband, he wanted to hear about me.
It was so interesting, I felt so proud. We sat down, the three of us, and you know Yarâ€™Adua, when he zooms his eyes on you as if he was seeing your soul, so I started talking about my career, in fact I was so carried away that I kept talking and talking, he just sat there listening and I spoke on everything. At a point I felt one leg from under the table and wondered who could be doing that, I looked at the president and he was so serious, I looked at my husband and his face said I was talking too much. I looked at the president again and he was smiling then I continued talking. That was the first meeting. Then there was a second meeting with the president, and then there was the third one. The third one was late in the night, I went out with my husband and when we returned the president sent for me and my husband again; at the meeting he asked â€˜what do I think about the job? He asked me â€˜would you like to take the job?â€™ I said to him â€˜thank you sir,â€™ he again asked me â€˜do you think you can do the job?â€™ I said to him â€˜yes sir,â€™ I have done some dangerous jobs before, I think I can do it because I believe in God, I believe what is worth doing is worth doing well, I believe a good name is better than silver and gold, I believe money is not everything; that is my guiding philosophy.
He then said to me I will send your name but you must know that it is a really tough job so you have to be strong but remain focused. He told me that the press will write so many things and say many things but you must be strong and remain focused. He and my husband were the two main persons that encouraged me to survive on that job. So, it was no bloody anybody that said I nominate this person. That was how it happened. I was able to convince the president by talking to him and we had a very good working relationship. One time I got to his office and he was seating down, and I asked â€˜sir, what is wrong?â€™ And he replied that, â€˜can you see the thing that they are writing about me, my wife and my familyâ€™. I said to him, â€˜sir, are you not the president; the moment you agreed to the president you have sold your privacyâ€™. He said, â€˜well agreed I sold mine, not that of my wife and children. Why should anybody be bothered about my familyâ€™, and I said to him, â€˜because they realised that was your weak spot. They know that if they write about you nothing will happen but they also know that with any good man, his family is the weakest spot and remember that you enjoined me to remain focused.â€™
Some people are specialist in cooking up stories, when they come up with such stories they will spice it and garnish it then inject little truth here and there, you yourself will be confused.
Your initial actions in EFCC, you may have done them in good faith, actually sent out wrong signals. The incumbent EFCC chairman was arrested and locked up somewhere on allegations that bordered on some files, Ibrahim Lamorde was posted to Bauchi State or some other place; you were in the intelligence service and you know about continuity. When it comes to investigation you donâ€™t just post people who had gone far investigating cases away, you donâ€™t just bring a new person to start all over again unless you donâ€™t have trust in that person because that means you have to start all over again. So people felt that was wrong, they felt that you came in to do some peoplesâ€™ bidding â€¦
I am surprised. Is that your mindset? You should know the truth.
Itâ€™s not my mindset but that is the view out there.
At that level, you should do investigative journalism, you should know the truth. When I came in, Lamorde was posted back to the Police, I had nothing to do with it. They posted a director of operations to me. I should select my director of operations. The police took Lamorde and posted him out. This thing had noting to do with me whatsoever. And my director of operations, they posted to undermine me. I told you earlier that I had enemies; I call them enemies ab initio. From the very beginning, they donâ€™t want you for personal reasons and when you are there they now perfect ways to penetrate the organisation, they put people there to spy on you, to denigrate you, to rubbish you and undermine you. So they posted Ogunsakin (Now retired AIG). Again, I didnâ€™t send away anybody, the people that I sent away were the Mobile Policemen.
Recall that I was AIG Training and I travelled to the training institutions, I went to Gworza, into the bush where the mobile police force were being trained and the ones in EFCC, from inception, looked so lazy like pregnant women; when I asked them how long have they been at the EFCC, they said they had been there from inception, then there was a unit that was being trained and when they finished their training, and donâ€™t forget that apart from AIG Training I was also nominating peace keeping force and when they come back from peace keeping posting they come back carrying themselves with pride and you will be proud of them. I didnâ€™t want sluggish people at the EFCC, they forget that they were even mobile policemen. So I said I wanted the whole of the unit posted out and another unit to replace them and that they should go to Gworza. Then my enemies said I removed all the experienced hands, they even wrote to the Americans that the United States government spent dollars to train them and I came in and sent them away. My enemies were churning out falsehoods.
There is the issue of succession crisis in EFCC. We had one when you came in, when Lamorde came in after you we also had succession crisis, we still have it now, and the incumbent has still not been confirmed by the Senate. Would you say succession crisis has not only affected the integrity of the organisation but also affected its performance?
I agree with you there should be continuity, I am passionate about the EFCC and what goes on in there, even though I am out of the place, being a place that I have worked before. When I got to EFCC, there were EFCC offices scattered all over Abuja, there was economic governance, that is politically exposed persons, the most sensitive unit was in Asokoro; there were some in Garki, there were some in the Villa, they were everywhere; they were all over and there were no offices and a man was building an office block adjacent the road and I approached him, we had Block A, Block B, we named that building Block C and I brought in everybody. I have been to the Scotland Yard, when I went they took me round, they took me to the canteen and we ate first class meal at the place and the officers were so proud of where they work and carried themselves with pride and I wished we could replicate that kind of set up at EFCC; it was when I got there that I created uniform allowances, I said come in suits and donâ€™t wear bathroom slippers to the office. The first day they wore their suits they felt happy for themselves.
I didnâ€™t leave it at that, I got over five hectares of land and I went to Mr. President of blessed memory, and I said â€˜Sir, I want to ask for a favour, let us make history, let us set up Scotland Yard in Nigeria. Mr. President said Farida, where is the money and where is the land to do that? I told him I have got the land. Then he asked what of budget and I said to him this is what we should do, and then he said OK. I went to him again and asked him to promise me that the person I want will build the place, he asked me who and I said Julius Berger. It was very tough for us, Nigerian contractors wrote petitions that I was corrupt, that I was embezzling money but we went all out. I think we started with 8-storey building then I asked that it should be increased to 11 storeys, and they wrote all kinds of petition against me. The building is going on, that is a legacy.
As you rightly said, if the succession crisis continues, it will weaken the morale of the officers. Since the president has sent the name of the incumbent chairman for confirmation, he should have been confirmed, if this continues it will weaken the morale of the officers there. He is working hard no doubt but he will be distracted because of the issue of confirmation.
Besides, I will like to see the government introduce a policy, it is there in the guideline, who can be the chairman of the EFCC, the criteria is there. The EFCC is such a place that everybodyâ€™s eye is there. That is why government should take a serious look at the place so that the place is not destroyed.
You have been privileged to chair the EFCC, from experience, what would you say is the major militating factor against the fight against corruption?
I mentioned earlier that justice delayed is justice denied. You arrest someone, you build a case file that can stand the test of time anywhere in the world, if Scotland Yard ask you for a case file you can be able to use the same pattern. I went to California, USA to testify in a case and I was put in a hotel and the Americans were always coming to warn me about the antics of the lawyers and judges involved with the case. They forewarned me and kept telling me that the lawyers, the judges may want to annoy me; they schooled me for two weeks on how the case could play out in court, in the California court because Jim Andler thought he was dealing with Nigerian government. Successful prosecution is key to fighting corruption. As I said, it is scandalous that a case lasts for more than 10 years.
When a case lasts that long some scenarios could come up. One, witness stress, that is fatigue. Will a witness spend his entire life going to court to testify in one case? Two, witness may move. If a witness wins an American or Canadian visa lottery, wonâ€™t he move? Who will pay for flight ticket for the witness to come and testify? Witnesses may die. Imagine a situation where there is only one witness in a case and when he dies, is that not the end of the case. A witness may even forget some vital ingredients of the case and finds himself at the mercy of the overbearing senior advocate during cross examination.
So in that whole scenario, the trial judge who is following the law is even tired. The only person that is happy with that scenario is that senior advocate, of course there are good ones and there are bad ones, the money bag ones that have thrown away the ethics of the noble profession, whose only guiding philosophy is only about money are the only ones happy in that scenario. To me, the guilty one is also the accused person because he is in and out of court when he should be out there earning a living. So the whole thing is centered on prosecution.
My German friend, Freida Springerbeck, she was a victim of Nigerian fraudsters, she was always coming and going during the trial and every time she comes around she would stop by at my office and she would say â€˜I have come to collect adjournment again.â€™ She would add, â€˜the judge was even smilingâ€™, and I will tell her do you want the judge to cry. So these are some of the problems but I am glad a Daniel has come to judgment and I hope things will improve.
You talked about being an undercover agent while in the police force, what was it like rising through the ranks in the force?
It was interesting and you gain a lot of experience. I did everything, including the patrol beat system, the beat of the Aberdeen, you do night duty, so you know the job from scratch up. It was interesting and I believe it built me for who I turned out to be. Of course you recall I told you that I also worked in the Special Branch of the force from where we metamorphosed into the NSO. I left the undercover beat because my cover was blown. When we were in the Special Branch, we were called the E Department and when I went out and people asked me what department I was and I tell them the E department, they would be like what department is that, I was always telling them things like Education Department, Equalisation Department just to get by. But then the Police felt we were spying on them. But it was nice back then, I was getting funds to go out and gather intelligence report and I was writing report every day, when you write your report you get paid. We even wrote about rumours in our reports; in that case you start your report with â€˜Rumours have it that.â€™ You recruit agents and get your sources; I was almost beaten during an assignment and when I said I was a police officer they just looked away.
I believe that if you donâ€™t have a goal in life people will dribble you about and eventually mess you up, but if you have a goal, like your calling, just give your all; give it your best, not to please people, just do your best because God is watching you. As you are aware, there have been many revelations after I left the place and since the other government passed and nobody is calling my name. But to think I was on the bridge and so much water was passing under that bridge and that I had no idea.
I thank God for all of it. If God is working for you, you wonâ€™t even know. When Jonathan threw me out, you said it was perception, but I was disappointed because I was 100 per cent loyal to him and I told him so. I told him that you are not the one that appointed me but in my line of duty, you are loyal to the president of the day 100 per cent minus five for human errors. To tell a lie to a president is like you are trying to sabotage the president so I wouldnâ€™t dare do that. But perhaps if he didnâ€™t throw me out my enemies would have descended on me with all the revelations that are now coming out.
Someone like Femi Falana would have had me handcuffed and taken to Kuje Prison. He resented my being there and when I was removed he was the first person to say it was long overdue and he didnâ€™t give any reason. I never knew him before then. So you could see that God was working for me all along and I took it philosophically. When you get a job, you must leave one way of the other. Some people drop dead in office, some people are taken to prison from office while some other people fall sick and quit the job on health grounds. But if you leave and go home in peace what could be better than that?
There are views that for the anti-graft war to make huge impact there must be high profile convictions. Did that kind of view guide your headship of EFCC?
Yes. However, the EFCC is not a police station, this has to do with politically exposed persons and you know who politically exposed persons are, they are high up there from the president, to the governors, ministers, legislators including captains of industries; these are the people that are vulnerable; they wield authority and are in a position to approve money and remember that this establishment was created to checkmate corruption. It was more of a preventive measure when the politically exposed persons unit was created; and in other countries, Mardoffâ€™s case was for two years for his involvement with Ponzi scheme and he was convicted, all his properties were seized, I think one property was left to the wife and two sons; I followed the case. Unfortunately, it is only the small fries that get punished here and that is why people are concerned and wondering what is going on.
If you go to some villages you will see abject want and poverty, you see people who leave on garri for breakfast, lunch and dinner, someone who has not seen N1000 in a month, yet some people get away with crimes and they hear people talking about billions and billions; when this kind of things, the gap between the rich and the poor keep getting wider and wider, and when that sort of thing continue to happen, resentment sets in. All kinds of offences that we never used to have like kidnapping are as a result of that. Remember, what we used to have was just robbery, and then came robbery with violence, then there was armed robbery where the assailant say to you give me the keys, and after you had complied he still shoots the victim; this is as a result of that resentment. So something needs to be done to address that inequality in the country as a whole. I am not saying government should do everything but government should empower people so that they could do some things for themselves, not the hopeless case that we have now where salaries are being owed to the extent that people now take their lives.
While you were there, what was the most challenging investigation that was carried out by your leadership of the EFCC?
That has to do with cases involving politically exposed person, we had lawyers that were very junior and you know the way the court system is, when the silk gets to court he is heard, then I tried to get some good senior advocates to come and help us with prosecuting some the cases and then we also worked with the governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria, CBN, because he did some reforms that we were part of and we were there to work with him and we got some convictions involving bank CEOs and some former state governors. The truth is that I really worked hard even though I was vilified. I studied case files thoroughly, I created the interrogation room, I saw the model in Israel and I liked it so I introduced it here, we had two interrogation rooms and I made it such that I could monitor interrogations from my office and there was a phone linking the interrogation room to my office and I would call the detective and tell him you didnâ€™t ask so, so and so question.
Let me tell you about another damage that could happen when people personalise this job. All my life I read a lot, I also read a lot of biographies. I have read a lot about the Clinton couple and I admire them, when Hilary Clinton was to come to Nigeria, I looked forward to meeting her. When she came she made a statement that the war on corruption was faltering; well she is entitled to her opinion, may be that was based on the intelligence report that she got.
Then the president called me and was fuming. He said Farida, sit down, Americans canâ€™t come and teach us our job. I said â€˜of course sir,â€™ I didnâ€™t know what was coming after that, and then he said â€˜Mrs. Clinton said she will see all anti corruption agencies except Farida Waziri,â€™ to show you the extent of damage that this people have done. Only God knows what she may have read that made her decide that she didnâ€™t want to set her eye on me. This is a woman I respect so much, this is a woman who is the Secretary of State of the most powerful nation in the world. President Yarâ€™Adua said he told her that she would either meet with all the heads of anti corruption agencies or she cancels the meeting. I am saying this to advice people, especially leaders, that they should not be carried away because somebody wrote something about the other person; they should verify the reports before taking action. It is like, when you asked me about certain question and I say you should know, I like THISDAY newspapers, it one of the papers that I read and they analyse issues, they donâ€™t personalize issues.
There were a lot of misinformation about my person so. Even when I went to the State Department, she was out of office, I could tell that her secretary didnâ€™t like me. In this country, when you work, blow your trumpet because nobody will do it on your behalf, rather if they have the opportunity they will break it on your head. I worked hard and followed due process and there was no scandal, I carried everybody along and they were loyal. If I said go to Damaturu and effect an assignment they will go. When they were killing some of them I introduced insurance package for them; and I am proud of my record. Gradually, my record of achievement is beginning to emerge. Some people will say that woman, you know I told you I became â€˜that womanâ€™. Some people will say what is wrong with that woman, they would say can she not work, her own is to complain, special courts here and there; so this interview is good.
You worked under an Attorney General that, Nigerians perceived negatively. How much influence did he have on your agency and what was the impact of that influence on your activities?
Aondoakaa and myself are from the same village but I never knew him, probably because he was younger somehow, but he never wanted me to become EFCC chair. He never influenced me in any way, remember I told you I donâ€™t suffer fools gladly, because, I realised that the EFCC chair is called Farida Waziri and if somebody comes and tells me do this or do that, I am not stupid, I know that I am performing a constitutional duty, and as a lawyer I also know my duty, so I never took any case file anywhere. Case files, especially that of politically exposed persons were locked up in the office. I know he was always trying to put me down and do certain things; so one day I said I have had enough, so I went to his house to see him and they said he was in the bedroom and I waited for him for hours, when I was tired of waiting for him I went and banged on his door and told him he better come out, somehow the door was not locked so I went into his bedroom and he ran into the bathroom, I had really had it up to here (pointing at her lower jaw).
People thought we were chummy-chummy but it wasnâ€™t so at all. I am somebody who knows her onions, you canâ€™t teach me what I have been doing for so long, then I will say I was directed. Part of what we did with case files was that we duplicated them, if a case file is going to legal, you will sign it, date it and sign the time it left your table. So he did not influence anything. I am my own woman, instead I resisted him. Even President Yarâ€™Adua wonâ€™t do that; he hated corruption. One day, somebody gave him a list, and there were one or two persons he respected on the list and when he saw it he said â€˜these people, what would they do with all these billions?â€™, and I said â€˜I wish I knew.â€™ He then pointed at some names on the list and said, â€˜as for this person, I donâ€™t know why he is doing this to meâ€™, and he took it personal; he was a great man. He was a fast reader, If I took reports to him, he would read them and we will discuss.
He used to give me some cases personally. There was a day he gave me a case which has the details of his informant and I mentioned the name of the informant and one of the detectives invited the informant, He was very angry about it. When he called me on phone, he said he will never give me classified information again, he said the informant was the one giving him vital information. He was a really great man and I enjoyed working with him. One day he called all his principal staff officers and told them â€˜Farida has free access to me in the office and at the Villa.â€™ I really cherish the time I spent working for him.