THERE IS CORRUPTION IN EFCC - LAMORDE
By HENRY UMORU & INALEGWU SHAIBU
ABUJA-Chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, Ibrahim Lamorde Wednesday admitted before the Senate that the commission is facing problems of corruption within its staff.
Lamorde who was confirmed by the Senate after an interrogation that lasted almost two hours stated that polygraph test will be introduced to weed out corrupt staff from the agency.
Senator Mohammed Bindow (left) with the EFCC Acting Chairman, Mr. Ibrahim Lomorde after his screening by the Senate at the National Assembly in Abuja on Wednesday. Photo : Gbemiga Olamikan
He said: 'Corruption in EFCC, to some extent is correct, and as the acting chairman, I have taken step to address some of the issues. We have about three of our personnel that are in detention for acts that seem not to be acceptable to the standard of an anti- corruption agency.
'We have also initiated prosecution against two other officers. The case is in court. I have decided to establish an internal affairs department whereby every individual, including myself will be vetted not only at the time of coming to the agency, but periodically to see whether your lifestyle is commensurate with your income.
'I have decided to introduce a polygraph test for everybody. We are going to acquire machine and ask all of our staff to undergo polygraph test. There is no way an agency like the EFCC can go out and perform its function when people out there said corruption has also crept into the commission.'
Answering further questions from the Senators, Lamorde rebuffed claims that former President Olusegun Obasanjo used the agency to fight his political enemies, including former Vice President Atiku Abubakar.
He told the Senate that the commission came up with a list of corrupt politicians prior to 2007 elections to advise political parties about the candidates they were fielding and not as a witch hunt to scuttle anyone's political ambitions.
He said: 'It is true that a list was drawn up not specifically that people should not contest elections. That was not what that list was meant to achieve. It was an advisory list to political parties to look at the candidates they have fielded for election because, maybe they have some pending issues or not'.
'Specifically I heard people made mention about the matter involving the then Vice President. What has not been said is that the issue was never initiated by the EFCC. It was mutual assistance request that we received from the United States.
'As a responsible country and government, we are bound to respond to request made by other judicial authorities if we have bilateral agreement in matters of that nature with them. Purely that was it and in fact it was triggered by the investigation of member of congress, Jefferson who is in jail. And most of the materials came from the United States, because they just requested for assistance from Nigerian government.'
Lamorde also dismissed claims of missing files and fraudulent sale of seized properties, noting that the commission has independent investigative officers who are in charge of every case.
According to him, 'As far as I am concerned, I am not aware of any missing case file. Case files are handled by people who are the investigating officers. There are case officers for each case. So if you are looking for your case file you go to the investigating officer. He or she is the custodian of case file.
'There is no asset that was seized and sold that was done unilaterally by the EFCC.'
The new chairman also assured that he will use his wealth of experience in the fight against corruption, saying, 'I have worked with two different chairmen of EFCC and the experience and training I have acquired in the past has put me in a good position to bring my wealth of experience that will take EFCC to another level.
'I want to assure this house that I will do what is required of me. I am aware of the high expectations of not only Nigerians but international community from me. I am assuring that I will not disappoint you. I have a clear idea of what I should do and how to sustain it. I don't think that after a while, I will be overwhelmed by the challenges of the office.'
At the conclusion of the screening, Senate President, David Mark tasked Lamorde to ensure that the commission carries out its mandate in accordance with the law.
Mark said, 'We have asked him very deep questions and I think from the answers we got from him, we want to give him the benefit of doubt that he will perform and that EFCC will do precisely what the act has tasked them to do and at the end of the day, the country will be better off.'