Frustrated by the “cold shoulder” treatment given to the Chairwoman of Economic and Financial Crimes Commission [EFCC], Madam Farida Waziri by the government of the United States of America [USA] owing to what the USA believed was the result of her being corrupt and lack of progress in the fight against corruption in Nigeria – the Chairwoman of the EFCC sought avenues to reaching the USA government through the American Ambassador in Abuja, Robin R. Sanders.
In mid 2008, the USA government had given instructions to the Ambassador in Abuja “not to have any contact with Mrs. Waziri until such time as the USA government saw progress on issues on corruption” which were earlier stated to the EFCC Chairwoman. The USA government was not happy with the manner the EFCC Chairman was piloting the affairs of the EFCC – particularly the cases of ex-Delta State Governor Ibori, Waziri’s lack of political independence, the redeployment of previously USA trained EFCC agents.
To this effect, the USA Ambassador blacklisted the EFCC Chairwoman. And, in reaction, the EFCC Chairwoman mounted a struggle to meet with the Ambassador through numerous invitations to public and private events – of which the Ambassador turned down repeatedly.
As a last desparate move to reach the Ambassador, the EFCC Chairwoman sought the assistance of the then foreign minister [FonMin], Maduekwe. Waziri pleaded with the FonMin to intercede on her behalf since Maduekwe is believed to be in good terms with the USA Ambassador. Maduekwe agreed. The two [Waziri + Maduekwe] then planned to ambush the American Ambassador.
On the Saturday evening of March 14, 2009, Maduekwe placed a call to the Ambassador inviting her for lunch at his home on March 15 being the next day to discuss on matters concerning President Yar’Adua and his coming visit to the USA. Ambassador arrived, was greeted in the normal fashion, and walked in the parlor to find another person sitting in the corner in the room. The Fonmin then announced that he had someone with whom he wanted the Ambassador to talk, and thought [at the last minute, he claimed] he would take advantage of the March 15 lunch to arrange that discussion. Once the dark glasses were off, the visitor was revealed to be Farida Waziri, Chairwoman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission [EFCC].
The Ambassador immediately lost her cool and blasted but the FonMin and Waziri – stressing that she was under instructions not to have any contact with Mrs. Waziri until such time as the USA government saw progress on issues which had discussed with the Government of Nigeria on several occasions, and that if the Minister had arranged the lunch for her to talk with Mrs. Waziri, the Ambassador could not stay.
The Ambassador turned to Mrs. Waziri, saying she hoped the USG position was clear to her, but reiterated: that there would be no meetings with her; that she would not be received by USG officials if she visited the U.S., though she certainly was not barred from traveling to the U.S. for personal reasons (she does hold a valid U.S. visa); and, that constantly seeking a meeting with, or inviting the Ambassador to her events, only put the Ambassador in the position of being rude in not being able to respond.
An embarrassed EFCC Chairwoman apologized to the Ambassador stating that she was sorry the U.S. considered her not competent to do her job, and thought she was involved in file tampering, something she insisted she would not do.
Maduekwe then asked his wife to escort Mrs. Waziri out.
READ the WIRE cable below. It was classified as Confidential by Ambassador Robin R. Sanders on March 16,2009 – and due to declassification on March 16, 2019.
C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 ABUJA 000458
E.O. 12958: DECL: 03/16/2019
SUBJECT: NIGERIA: FOREIGN MINISTER SETS UP SURPRISE ENCOUNTER WITH EFCC CHAIRWOMAN
Classified By: Ambassador Robin R. Sanders for reasons 1.4 (b) and (d)
¶1. (C) Foreign Minister Maduekwe called the Ambassador late
Saturday March 14 [of 2009] to ask her to lunch on March 15 to discuss
AMISOM following his most recent talks with President
Yar’Adua on the issue, as well as to discuss his upcoming
trip to Washington to meet with SecState and attend other
private meetings. Ambassador arrived, was greeted in the
normal fashion, and walked in the parlor to find another
person sitting in the corner in the room. The Fonmin then
announced that he had someone with whom he wanted the
Ambassador to talk, and thought (at the last minute, he
claimed) he would take advantage of the March 15 lunch to
arrange that discussion. Once the dark glasses were off, the
visitor was revealed to be Farida Waziri, Chairwoman of the
Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).
¶2. (C) The Ambassador immediately said she was under
instructions not to have any contact with Mrs. Waziri until
such time as the USG saw progress on issue