The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) on Thursday 1st October 2015 went on an unprecedented media blitz in advertorials and a press statement defending itself on the issues contained in the petition detailing alleged misappropriation and diversion of funds and properties recovered from culprits by the commission and its chairman Ibrahim Lamorde [image above].
It would be recalled that the EFCC Chairman, Ibrahim Lamorde was recently invited by the Senate Committee on Ethics, Privileges and Public Petition, over allegations of diversion of about N1trillion proceeds of recovered assets. Since the invitation and the audience granted to the alleged petitioner, George Uboh by the Senate, the agency preferred to be dumb on the accusations and also refused to appear before the senate committee to provide its defense.
However, the statement, which was signed by the commission’s Head of Media & Publicity, Wilson Uwujaren said the agency had chosen silence since the accusations were made because “it wanted to wait for a report of KPMG which it commissioned in June 2014 to undertake a forensic audit of the record of exhibits and assets recovered by the Commission since the creation of EFCC in 2003.”
Though the report which the commission hinged its silence for several weeks now is still to be released, the EFCC said it decided to use a massive media blitz to set the record straight as far as the management of recovered assets is concerned and thereby forestall further misrepresentation by mischievous elements.
As remarked by the anti-graft agency, “George Uboh, the self-styled whistle blower who has been maligning the EFCC and its leadership claims the Commission warehouse recovered funds in bank accounts which it does not reflect in its audited accounts, doctor and manipulate bank account to conceal diversion of funds, release recovered funds to unidentified persons, among others. These are generic allegation which is bereft of specificity. The names of the banks and account numbers into which the monies were supposedly diverted, are not stated; the names in which the bank accounts are allegedly being operated are also not stated, just as the particular year(s) in which the recoveries were not reflected in the audited accounts are conveniently omitted
“It is important to stress that most of the issues sensationally being bandied around media houses across Nigeria all over the world via the Internet by George Uboh and his pay masters and over which Ibrahim Lamorde is being held personally liable, arose from decisions and actions taken between May 2008 and December 10, 2010, when Lamorde was away from the Commission having been recalled by the Nigeria Police and posted, first to Ningi in Bauchi State as Area Commander and later to the Police College, Kaduna, as AC Admin.”
There are points of very serious concern in the demeanor of the anti-graft agency and its chairman in the recent media blitz.
First, does it occur to the Ibrahim Lamorde that when an agency of government under forensic examination or rather serious accusations of misdeeds and possible criminal investigation undertakes this sort of unprecedented media advertisements the public would simply take it as a preemptive measure to dodge the effects of a likely damning report? Using online and print media to address issues raised in a petition would most likely convince majority of the Nigerian populace including the President and the people in government, informed and uninformed Nigerians, also the international community that such agency is most likely guilty as charged.
A grossly vexed Nigerian commentator was very apt on the EFCC recent media blitz when he said, “The innocent have nothing to fear, only the guilty. What record is the EFCC setting straight when the KPMG have not accused them of skewing their records? By their nervous actions we shall recognize them. Who would bother with the windy gibberish the EFCC call setting the records straight after choosing to break their silence?
So if the EFCC knew it would not be able to muster enough patience to wait for the KPMG audit report, why did it take the agency so long to comment on the accusations? This is a credibility issue and obviously, the agency by itself has created serious problem of credibility and integrity for its entire action or inaction in this matter.
Most Nigerians would agree that the best arena for the EFCC’s rebuttal would have been the agency’s appearance before the Senate Committee for Privilege and Ethics rather than the recent media blitz on the online and offline newspapers
Where in the world does an investigative body as sensitive as a nation’s anti-graft police take to sensational newspapers instead of a properly statutory oversight body to exonerate itself of accusations of corruption and blurred transactions?
It is very absurd that in this country, all sorts of people go all out to rationalize an obvious aberration. Let’s even assume that the accusation against Lamorde was an attempt to smear and checkmate him and the commission on the investigation of the Senate President and his wife for money laundering, is his commission immuned from investigation of activities of its officers?
Rather than take the option of trying to lay bare its response to the allegations of corruption and misdeeds against it in newspapers including online ones because it wanted to douse the tension, what stopped the agency from taking a proper action in court as provided by the Constitution to challenge the action of the Senate to summon the chairman and the commission?
It is at best stupid for some negatively skewed charge and bail lawyers to argue that The Senate has no competence to adjudicate over a criminal charge brought against a citizen holding a government office in trust by another because that competence belongs to the court if the charge came through the proper process. What we are saying here is a moral issue that borderers on conflict of interests and betrayal of trust.
There should not be any talk of prosecution at this stage as the Senate Committee merely asked the commission’s chairman to come and defend himself based on the petition against him before the senate. So there is no need of muddling up this matter.
Serially, several ministers of the federal Republic were summoned to clarify issues around their activities and they appeared and did exactly that. So why is the EFCC chairman’s case a different one? Was he not appointed by the same Government of Nigeria into that position of trust? So why is he not going to the Senate to answer the queries and confront his accuser(s)? These are the moral questions those politicizing this issue should attempt to answer. God bless Nigeria!
(IFEANYI IZEZE lives in Abuja and can be reached on: firstname.lastname@example.org; 234-8033043009)
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