Why EFCC Can't Probe NNPC's Missing Funds Now - Lamorde
SAN FRANCISCO, February 27, (THEWILL) - The Chairman, Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), Mr.
Ibrahim Lamorde, Thursday declared that the commission can only commence probe of the alleged missing Nigeria National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) $20billion oil money, only after Senate must have concluded and turn in report of its investigation.
He also informed that the anti-graft agency would need the report of the forensic audit promised by the Coordinating Minister of the Economy and Minister of Finance, Dr.
Ngozi Okonjo-Iwela, in its investigation of the alleged missing funds.
Lamorde spoke when he appeared before the Senate Committee on Drugs, Narcotics and Financial Crimes to defend the commission's 2014 budget.
The EFCC boss noted that since the Senate Committee on Finance was already investigating the alleged missing NNPC funds, the commission would wait for the Senate committee to conclude its work.
The committee headed by Senator Victor Lar, had sought to know why the EFCC had not taken up the investigation of the alleged missing $20 billion NNPC funds.
Lamorde told the committee that criminal investigation into the allegation could only commence at the conclusion of the Senate probe when necessary foundation for the commission's investigation must have been laid.
He said it was also necessary to establish the exact figure involves in the issue.
'The issue about the NNPC is already being investigated by the National Assembly.
For every investigation, once the National Assembly is on it, we have to wait until they conclude.
'The fuel subsidy investigation through which we charged so many people to court, the son of the immediate past Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) National Chairman is one of the people standing trial, we did not go into the matter until it was concluded by the National Assembly and forwarded to us.
'We can't jump into an issue that is still being investigated by the National Assembly.
'It is not a mob kind of thing.
There must be a sequence of events that would lead us to taking decision.
'Let the hearing of the National Assembly be concluded.
Normally when it is concluded it is forwarded to us for investigation.
'I think people are in a hurry.
What people want to hear is that just because there is an issue today, tomorrow you are shouting kill him, stone him.
'We don't do investigation by the media.
When we are ready to charge the individual to court we would do so.
'But when the investigation is going on let the investigation be conclusive.
Otherwise we will jump into what everybody is saying.
'It is like the market place where everybody is shouting at the same time.
Law enforcement investigation is not like that.
'It is supposed to be systematic and you work towards getting evidence to sustain your case if eventually you go to court.
'You can't just go to court based on assumptions.
We have gone very far with some of our investigations.
Very soon when we are ready you will see us in court.
'It is very easy to say the anti-corruption agencies should look into it.
When this controversy started we had about three figures.
'One figure would emerge today, it would change to another figure tomorrow and we arrive at another figure the next day.
'Now we have settled more or less on 20 billion.
'The Minister of Finance said that they want to commission an audit firm to do a forensic auditing of the finances of the NNPC.
'You need a professional firm to handle this.
This is not a common investigation.
These are very technical things.
'Let the audit be carried out.
Let's know exactly what we are talking about, understand what the figures are and criminal investigation can follow.
'You can't start an investigation on nothing.
You need a foundation.
You can't put a super structure without a base.
So we need that base to put our own investigation on it.
'You can't do a parallel thing when the Minister of Finance has said that an independent firm would be contracted to do a forensic audit of the NNPC accounts.
It is the same documents that the auditors would use that we will also use.
' EMMA UCHE, ABUJA