EFCC and Mockery of Anti-Graft War in NigeriaArticles/Opinion Sunday, December 22nd, 2013
By Johnson Johnson
As time goes on, it is becoming clearer that the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission has lost direction and focus, thereby making it difficult for it to investigate cases dispassionately without witch-hunting and grandstanding.
Ethics and professionalism in the handling of investigations or prosecutions are now history. This worrisome development appears not to surprise many. If an organization is established in error by forcing policemen to lead anti-corruption efforts without first of all cleaning up their own establishment–how can they give what they don’t have? It is no news that the EFCC is another arm of the Nigerian Police. It is also no news that over eighty five percent of the staff of EFCC are Policemen. One now asks, do Nigerians have confidence in the Police? If no, how then can corruption personified lead the war against corruption?
Why are Nigerians constantly being barraged by a set of very “unprofessional policemen” who are acting to satisfy very selfish ambitions instead of fighting corruption? Why have President Goodluck Jonathan and the Attorney General of the Federation closed their eyes to the ongoing use of policemen in EFCC to harass and intimidate innocent citizens, leaving the actual looters of the treasury to walk the streets? For how long shall this deliberate diversion of attention continue?
Why is it that everybody that opposes the failure of leadership, the incompetence and corruption in the EFCC’s ranks and file is harassed, intimidated and humiliated through ‘press trial’ and cooked up investigations? For how long shall this continue?
Some facts are worth reflecting on. In the past eight years, the present EFCC Chairman, Mr. Ibrahim Lamorde has been part of EFCC establishment. He was part of Mallam Nuhu Ribadu’s team, acted as Chairman for more than a year and later came back to work with Mrs. Farida Waziri before he was made the Chairman of EFCC. As a matter of fact, Mr. Larmorde orchestrated the removal of Mrs. Farida in his inordinate ambition to become Chairman of the EFCC. In doing so, he compromised every ethical principle of investigation and went on to forge documents and reports to create an impression that he knew how to resolve the problems of EFCC. What he did not reveal to the President is that he is not driven by any national interest but by corrupt, ethnic and sectional interest that is manifesting itself in the leadership style he is using to manage the EFCC presently.
Time and time again, Mr. Larmorde has failed to investigate and conclusively prosecute any elite from the North who is accused of corruption– El-Rufai is just a very good recent example. Governor Nyame’s case and several other cases of governors have not reached any conclusive judicial pronouncement because the EFCC has refused to present evidence to support those cases, even where previous EFCC leaderships made a feeble attempt to prosecute!
When it comes to elites from the South, he creates newspaper sensations and aligns with the highest bidder in terms of how much he can extort from them to drop the cases. Where no money is coming forth, regardless of non existence of evidence, Mr. Larmorde will use his loyalists who are all personally selected from the Nigeria Police Force regardless of their competence and level and who have been designated as Heads of Operations in all the EFCC zonal offices and in Abuja to ensure that such suspects are dealt with using all sorts of black mail and illegal detention to try to force charges on them.
There are indeed more questions than answers.
First, how many EFCC cases have been investigated in the last three years, since Mr. Lamorde came back to EFCC in 2010 as Director of Operations and how many of those cases have seen the light of the day?
How many people have been successfully prosecuted, including the Oil-Subsidy Case for which many Nigerians took to the streets in thousands?
How many Elites has he prosecuted and successfully obtained conviction on?
Why is the EFCC conducting trial through the press? Are the media houses where investigations are conducted? Has the present EFCC leadership not learnt from history that trial by the Press is only a figment of imagination and one that only lasts for a very short while? How much of taxpayers money has been spent on the Press and how much has been spent on lawyers that prosecute for the Commission?
A typical example is the Pension case. What are the facts of the case? Is there anybody in Nigeria that has not watched with exasperation in the past three weeks how EFCC under Mr. Larmorde has allowed inordinate ambition to retain the Nigerian Financial Intelligence Unit in EFCC to overshadow him, while trying to witch hunt innocent Nigerians and at the same time failing to tell Nigerians why, after it concluded investigations on Mr. Sule Lamido, and the sons of Governor Lamido since December, 2012, he refused to prosecute them? Are they also covered by constitutional immunity?
Why is it that after the EFCC closed investigations in the Pension case in 2010, arraigned the subjects in 2011, obtained a “negotiated judgment” on one of the pension suspects in 2013, the Chairman in an obvious show of shame and incompetence is now seeking to reopen the investigation by claiming that one of the suspects “wrote an additional statement” to include the former head of Service, Mr. Oronsaye? Is this an afterthought?
This type of investigation can only be seen happening in a police station because this high-level corruption and incompetence is what has led to the failure of EFCC cases to stand the scrutiny of good judicial officers.
Where is the credibility? How can Nigerians ever have confidence in the present day EFCC? Why is Nigeria spending so much money on such an organization that has failed in all ramifications except in destroying Nigeria’s image?
Facts now emerging from inside EFCC show that officers who are concerned about the witch hunting and black mail going on in the Press are protesting against the manner in which EFCC’s sensitive and high profile cases are handled by selected investigation officers from the police and those from North, specifically Adamawa state where Mr. Lamorde hails from. With such a composition of investigators drawn from one part of Nigeria, how can justice ever be served on Nigerians?
It is interesting that despite all the lies, blackmail and media sensational trial, that the Public Hearing on the Nigerian Financial Intelligence Agency Bill was successful with more than 20 agencies, private sector organizations and civil society organizations supporting the Presidential Bill with only the EFCC CHAIRMAN KICKING AGAINST IT!
Did the EFCC Chairman forget that the NFIA Bill is an Executive Bill? Is this not an act of insubordination against a Presidential Directive and policy? In any other country, his action would deserve investigation by the Presidency but this is Nigeria and executive officers abuse their powers with impunity.
What is Mr. LAMORDE fighting for? Has he finished investigating, prosecuting and managing stolen assets as required by the EFCC Act? Why does he want to manage financial intelligence meant for other law enforcement agencies? What is he afraid of? To continue to use the NFIU to protect the people he is supposed to investigate or to prevent the NFIU from reporting the corruption going on in EFCC?
Let him for once show competence in the EFCC mandates before looking elsewhere to blame for his failures and incompetence that have become so glaring.
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