- Names Magu EFCC new chairman
In what sources considered as prelude to his imminent probe, President Muhammadu Buhari yesterday told Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC Chairman, Ibrahim Lamorde to proceed on terminal leave, barely three months to the expiration of his tenure. His tenure would formally expire at the end of February next year.A statement by Buhari’s Special Adviser on Media and Publicity, Mr. Femi Adesina said the President has approved the appointment of Mr. Ibrahim Mustafa Magu as Acting Chairman of the Commission. “Mr. Magu, who is an Assistant Commissioner of Police is to take over from Mr. Ibrahim Lamorde who is proceeding on terminal leave ahead of the formal expiration of his tenure in February next year,” the statement read in part. Lamorde joined the EFCC at the inception of the commission in 2003 and was made director of operations. In 2007 when Nuhu Ribadu, first chairman of the agency was removed, Lamorde acted as head of the EFCC for five months and handed over to Farida Waziri when former President Goodluck Jonathan on November 23, 2011. His appointment was later confirmed by the Senate on February 15, 2012.
Nigerian Pilot learnt that Lamorde was allegedly removed because of the series of bribery, corruption and abuse of office allegations trailing him, which Buhari is reportedly not comfortable with. The source said the recent petition against the EFCC former boss by George Oboh and some staff of the commission finally nailed the embattled Lamorde.
Nigerian Pilot had reported exclusively that president Buhari would remove Lamorde from office in October this year and ruled out the possibility of giving him a second term in office as EFCC boss.
Lamorde is currently being investigated over alle¬gations of diversion of over N1trillion from the sale of confiscated properties be¬longing to convicted public officials, including former governor of Bayelsa State, the late Diepreye Alamieyesiegha and former Inspector-Gen¬eral of Police, Tafa Balo¬gun, among many others.
The decision to probe him was said to have been taken after one George Uboh appeared be¬fore the Senate Committee on Ethics, Privileges and Public Petitions on August 23 where he alleged that Lamorde dipped his hands into the said funds.
Meanwhile, indications emerged just before he was sacked that, the Senate may have stopped the ongoing probe of the Chairman, Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, Ibrahim Lamorde over alleged diversion of N2.05trillion worth of seized funds and assets from corrupt politicians.
Indication to this emerged yesterday when its Committee on Ethics, Privileges and Public Petitions announced the indefinite postponement of the probe slated for resumption today.
The sudden postponement of the planned probe was announced by the Clerk to the committee, Mr. Freedom Osolo, through a press release in Abuja, without any reason for the action.
The statement reads in part, “I regret to inform you that the hearing of the Senate Committee on Ethics, Privileges and Public Petitions slated for Tuesday, 10th November, 2015 has been postponed for the time being.
“You will be duly informed when the meeting is rescheduled, please. The committee regrets any inconveniences the postponement would have caused you”.
Osolo had on Thursday, November 4, issued a statement that the committee would hold a public hearing with all petitioners and those they petitioned on Tuesday (November 10), by 2:00pm at the Hearing Room 120, New Senate Building, National Assembly, Abuja.
Chairman of the committee, Senator Samuel Anyanwu (PDP Imo East), who had earlier confirmed to journalists on Friday that Lamorde would appear before his panel, on Tuesday, failed to give reasons for the postponement when contacted on telephone.
Anyanwu said, “I am in Lagos for an oversight function and I need to know the true position”, explaining that the committee would have invited Lamorde earlier before now but for its other engagements.
He had said, “We are ready to resume our investigation on the petition brought against the EFCC chairman and he had been summoned to appear before us next week Tuesday (October 10). We should have done it much earlier but for the tight schedule of the committee”.
Also, a member of the committee who is also the Chairman, Senate Committee on Federal Capital Territory, Senator Dino Melaye, had also told our correspondent in a telephone interview that the upper chamber was set to resume the probe of the EFCC boss.
Dino had attributed the delay in summoning Lamorde to appear before the panel to the fact that the Senate was in the last three weeks, preoccupied with the screening of the ministerial nominees adding that committee was overwhelmingly involved in the exercise.
He had said, “The senate committee on Ethics, Privileges and Public Petitions, which started the investigation of the petition against Lamorde had been busy with petitions against some ministerial nominees.
“The petition against the EFCC boss is still pending before the the ethics committee but further action on it was stalled because of the ministerial screening especially with the active Involvement of the committee members in the exercise”.
A security expert, George Uboh, had dragged Lamorde before the senate in August for allegedly diverting N2trillion proceeds from forfeited assets seized from corrupt Nigerians, which were kept in custody of the anti – graft agency.
The senate panel investigating the claims of the petitioner against Lamorde, suspended further action pending the plea by the EFCC legal team, which requested for more time pending the release of the agency’s annual financial report by the end of September.
It was gathered that the senate was already in possession of this year’s annual financial records of the anti-graft agency which Lamorde said he would need to defend himself.
But a group, Centre for International Integrity, Peace and Development, in a statement by its Director – General, Dr. Stephen Ime, on Friday cautioned against making the probe of the EFCC boss, a media affair in order not to jeopardize the anti – corruption crusade of the current administration.
The group argued that giving undue publicity to the probe would send wrong signals to foreign investors and the international community that the country was merely paying lip service to the graft war since the head of the agency was also being tried for corruption.