Senate Confirms Lamorde As EFCC Chairâ€¨â€¨
*** Lamorde Admits Corruption in EFCC
.... Opts For Staff Polygraph Test
ABUJA, February 15, (THEWILL) - The Senate on Wednesday confirmed Mr. Ibrahim Lamorde as the substantive chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, (EFCC).
However, Lamorde during the open screening admitted that some officers of the agency are corrupt.
He was nonetheless confirmed unanimously by senators amid a barrage of questions.â€¨â€¨The questions posed by senators on the floor, bordered on competence, corruption within the commission, independence of the commission, merging anti-graft agencies and the clamour for special courts to deal with graft cases.
The questioning lasted from 11am and 12.55pm after which he was confirmed.â€¨â€¨Speaking after his confirmation, the Senate President, Senator David Mark said, "From the answers we got from him, we want to give him the benefit of the doubt that he will perform and the EFCC will do precisely what the Act has empowered them to do and at the end of the day the country will be better of."
Lamorde, an Assistant Commissioner of Police, (ACP) was last November appointed as acting chairman of the EFCC, following the sack of Mrs. Farida Waziri. He had served as Director of Operations of the commission and has at different times served in acting capacity.
Fielding questions from senators, Lamorde admitted corruption within the anti-graft agency but quickly added that steps are in place to tackle the problem.â€¨â€¨Lamorde also made a case for the establishment of special courts to deal with corruption cases. He further dispelled talks of missing case files within the EFCC.â€¨â€¨He however was not able to tell the Senate how much the EFCC has recovered in its fight against corruption saying, "Unfortunately I don't have the statistics here. I may not be able to give you figures now."
On alleged corruption cases within the EFCC, he said; "To some extent that is correct, but since I assumed office as acting chairman; I have taken steps to address that issue. I have about three members of staff in detention on corruption cases. We have also initiated prosecution on two officers whose cases are in court. I have also decided to establish internal affairs department. To further address the issue, I have decided to introduce polygraph test that officers including myself should be made to take at six months interval to address that problem."
While he noted that the polygraph test would be done every six months for staff, Lamorde added that the life style of each staff of EFCC will be under scrutiny to ensure that it is in sync with office standards.
Responding to questions that EFCC is used as a hounding dog to stop politicians from contesting election, Lamorde noted that the intention was not for witch hunt but to show political parties the quality of candidates they want to field.â€¨â€¨"
That came up in 2007; it is true that a list was drawn up but it was not meant to stop certain people from contesting elections. It was an advice to political parties to look at candidates that were intending to contest, perhaps they have some issues. But it was perceived to have come from the past President to go after his enemies.â€¨â€¨"
I am not aware of any missing file. Case files are handled by individual investigating officers and if somebody is looking for case file, he should go to investigating officers because the problem is that maybe, the right people are not asked to produce such files."
Responding to a question on plea bargain, he said, "It is something that everybody that is involved has recreated. Awarding of punishment is the discretion of the judge, judge can make pronouncement that is contrary to your expectation. But whether I believe in the principle of plea bargaining or not, that depends on how it is carried out. It is really something that may be, people should have to sit down to discuss ways and manner it should be done but I don’t think we should jettison the idea of plea bargaining. The only thing is that if you are going on plea bargaining, there should be true declaration of assets and assets that are traced to the person should be ceased. We have been able to achieve a lot through plea bargaining."