Barely two weeks to the end of his tenure as head of Nigeria’s main anti-graft agency, Chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), Ibrahim Lamorde, has sunk into deeper troubles as the federal government has through the Federal Ministry of Justice ordered the probe of large scale corruption allegations against the soft spoken fat police officer.
A reliable source in the Federal Ministry of Justice in Abuja said today that the probe is based on a petition written dated September 18, 2015 and addressed to the Solicitor-General and Permanent Secretary, Federal Ministry of Justice, Mr. Abdullahi Yola by one George Uboh accusing Lamorde of diverting about N1trillon proceeds of corruption recovered by the Commission.
The Ministry in a directive to the EFCC signed by the Director, Public Prosecutions of the Federal Ministry of Justice, Mr. Muhammad Diri, on behalf of the Permanent Secretary and dated October 8, 2015, Yola directed the EFCC to investigate the allegation against Lamorde and forward the report of investigation to him “as soon as it is completed.”
The letter addressed to the petitioner with reference number, DPPA/PET/EFCC/006/2008 reads: “I refer to your letter dated the 28th September, 2015, in respect of the above mentioned subject matter.
“I am directed to inform you that your petition has been sent to the EFCC for their response to the allegation contained therein. The commission has been directed by the Solicitor-General of the Federation and Permanent Secretary to forward the result of its investigation as soon as it is completed. Accept please, the assurances of the highest regards of the Solicitor-General of the Federation and Permanent Secretary.”
Many lawyers spoken to and the petitioner himself are however demanding that in line with Civil Service Rules, Lamorde, must step aside during the pendency of the investigation by the Commission as he cannot preside over his own probe. Lamorde’s tenure is due to end by November 11 going by the date of his appointment as acting Chairman but sources close to him said he is not ready to leave until January when his appointment was confirmed by the Senate.
The petitioner, who is also the Chief Executive Officer of Panic Alert Security Systems, a security firm, George Uboh, had sent a reminder letter dated September 28, to Yola, with a seven days ultimatum threatening legal actions against the ministry if he failed to respond to his petition.
Uboh, had earlier petitioned the Senate Committee on Ethics, Privileges and Public Petitions, leveling the same set of allegations against Lamorde. In his petitions to both the Senate committee and to the Solicitor-General and Permanent Secretary of the Federal Ministry of Justice, Mr. Abdullahi Yola, Uboh alleged that the EFCC boss diverted, among others, the loot recovered from a former Governor of Bayelsa State, Diepreye Alamieyeseigha and ex-Inspector-General of Police, Tafa Balogun.
He accused Lamorde of specific instances of under-remittance and non-disclosure of proceeds of corruption recovered from criminal suspects, including Balogun and Alamieyeseigha.
Uboh disclosed that alleged wrongdoing by Larmode dated back to his days as the Director of Operations of the EFCC between 2003 and 2007, as well as an acting Chairman of the Commission between June 2007 and May 2008, when the then chairman of the anti-graft agency, Mr. Nuhu Ribadu, was away for a course at the National Institute for Policy and Strategic Studies, Kuru, Jos.
The petitioner, who alleged that the EFCC had not accounted for “offshore recoveries” and that “over half of the assets seized from suspects are not reflected in EFCC exhibit records,” promised the Senate that he would produce “overwhelming evidence” to back his claims against Lamorde.
He equally accused Lamorde of conspiring with some EFCC officers and external auditors “to operate and conceal a recovery account in the Central Bank of Nigeria and excluded the balances from your audited financial statements between 2005 and 2011.”
“Lamorde continues to conceal the details of the unsold properties forfeited by both Tafa Balogun and DSP Alamieyeseigha despite receiving rent revenues from some estate agents on the said properties,” Uboh further alleged.
Rather than appear before the Senate Committee probing the petition, Lamorde pleaded for more time and has been buying newspaper spaces to discredit the petitioner. He had equally doled out millions of naira to some pliable newspaper editors to block the publication of any negative story against him in their papers.