President Muhammadu Buhari has sacked the chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), Ibrahim Lamorde.
In a two-paragraph statement issued last night, presidential spokesman, Mr Femi Adesina, disclosed that Buhari had approved the appointment of Mr. Ibrahim Mustafa Magu as the Acting Chairman of the EFCC.
According to Adesina, “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”.
A source told Daily Trust last night that Lamorde, a commissioner of police, was asked to go ahead of the expiration of his tenure so as to inject fresh blood into the anticorruption agency.
“The president is keen on prosecuting his anti-corruption campaign in a transparent manner. The EFCC went into slumber under Lamorde. All the things you are seeing today are mere cosmetics to show to get the attention of President Buhari,” the source, who does not want to be named, said.
Asked whether Lamorde’s removal had anything to do with the alleged diversion of recovered stolen funds amounting to N1 trillion, over which he is facing probe at the Senate, the source declined comment.
Lamorde served twice as EFCC acting chairman (in 2008 and 2011) before his confirmation in February 2012 toa replace Farida Waziri who earlier took over from him in 2008.
Both Lamorde and Magu served during Nuhu Ribadu’s time at the anti-graft agency as head of operations and economic governance unit respectively. The two were also credited with part of the success Ribadu recorded in his time.
The man Ibrahim Magu
Magu, an assistant commissioner of police was one of the early recruits into the anti-graft agency by its pioneer chairman Malam Nuhu Ribadu. His most recent assignment was as member of the committee set up by the Buhari administration to probe the procurement of arms in the Armed Forces from 2007 to date.
Because of his perceived incorruptible posture, he was made the head of the sensitive Economic Governance Unit (EGU), which handles investigations of senior public officials.
As head of the EGU, some of the investigations he spearheaded included the alleged involvement of Senate President Bukola Saraki in the collapse of Societe Generale Bank of Nigeria; and James Ibori, former Governor of Delta State, who is serving jail term in United Kingdom for money laundering. He also played a role in the investigation and eventual jailing of former managing director of the Bank of the North, Shettima Mohammed Bulama, said to be his own brother in law.
After Ribadu was removed in controversial circumstance by former President Umaru Musa Yar’adua, Magu was also targeted for redeployment.
Farida Waziri, who took over in 2008, was said to be uncomfortable with his presence over issues surrounding loyalty.
Magu’s troubles peaked when he was accused of illegally keeping case files of top politicians being investigated by the commission in August 2008.
His house in Abuja was searched and his property, including a laptop computer with sensitive files, was carted away by officials of the EFCC at the behest of Mrs. Waziri.
Redeployed to the police after days of detention with nothing incriminating found against him, Magu was later suspended from the force, without salaries for several months.
But Magu was brought back to EFCC by Lamorde after he was confirmed as substantive EFCC boss in 2012.
Senate postpones Lamorde’s appearance
The Senate had announced the indefinite postponement of the much expected grilling of Lamorde , hours before he was sacked.
The former EFCC boss is being probed over an alleged diversion of recovered stolen funds, amounting to N1trn. He was asked to appear before the Senate today but the Ethics, Privileges and Public Petitions, which is probing him, issued a statement postponing it.
The probing of Lamorde by the Senators started last August shortly after the wife of the senate president, Mrs. Toyin Bukola Saraki, was grilled by the EFCC over alleged embezzlement of public funds during the tenure of her husband as governor of Kwara State (2003 to 2011).
Lamorde’s probe, according to the senators, was sequel to a petition written by one Mr. George Uboh alleging that the former EFCC boss diverted the sum of N1 trillion, being stolen money recovered from a former Governor of Bayelsa State, Diepreye Alamieyeseigha and former Inspector-General of Police, Tafa Balogun.
The EFCC boss, according to Uboh, diverted the funds when he was the agency’s Director of Operations between 2003 and 2007, and when he was acting chairman of the commission in 2008.
Our correspondent reports that although no reason was stated for the postponement, it could be connected with Lamorde’s sack.
A statement by the committee’s Clerk, Freedom Osolo tagged “Postponement of Hearing” said the hearing had been postponed till further notice.
“I regret to inform you that the hearing of the Senate Committee on Ethics, Privileges and Public petitions slated for Tuesday (Today) has been postponed fix for the time being, “ the statement reads.