Lamorde: A clog in Buhari’s anti-corruption crusade – Timothy Opoola

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Editor’s note: A social media activist Timothy Opoola writes about the former chairman of the Econmic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), Ibrahim Lamorde, detailing his actions that are inimical to the anti-corruption crusade of President Muhammadu Buhari.

When on February 15, 2012 the Senate confirmed Ibrahim Lamorde as the chairman of the EFCC, not many were impressed considering his antecedents. But those little-unimpressed fellows like me were in the minority. And our voices could not be heard. Personally, I knew we were heading for the rocks with an individual like Ibrahim Larmode to preside over the affairs of an agency as sensitive as EFCC. And I was not wrong because I was the famous seer Nostradamus. It was just logic.

As a first, I ask. Where is Ibrahim Lamorde? Some said he traveled abroad for his “three-month terminal leave” to rest I would assume. But how did he manage to travel out of the country amidst petitions, allegations and what have you?

I am writing with pain, on how EFCC was grounded during Ibrahim Larmode’s tenure. And it is on record that one of my points of departure for supporting former President Goodluck Jonathan was appointing Ibrahim Larmode to succeed Waziri Farida. That was one of the blunders of the Jonathan administration in my opinion.

Lamorde: A clog in Buhari’s anti-corruption crusade

I think the various revelations that have been unearthed would serve as a reference point for appointing people to a sensitive position of authority in this country. And this is a charge to the Buhari administration. Despite the sudden surge in the activities of the EFCC under Ibrahim Magu, the first step is to restore public confidence by probing the tenure of Ibrahim Larmode. This is a first because they say charity begins at home. And in this case, charity should start at home for the EFCC.

This is particularly important for the Buhari administration if it wants Nigerians to see how sincere he is in the fight against corruption. If I were President Buhari, I would personally set up a committee of trusted aides to investigate Ibrahim Lamorde. His case reminds me of the famous Rasheed Maina, who has proved untouchable and invincible because of the quantum of cash at his disposal. This can also be said of Ibrahim Lamorde because of how he has corruptly enriched himself and his cronies both inside and outside the EFCC. I will give some examples.

In March 2013, it was alleged that the former EFCC chair diverted some huge amount of money sum out of the total N3bn forfeited by former IGP Tafa Balogun to the federal government. How did he do it? He conspired with some officials of the anti-graft agency to under-remit the ex-IG’s forfeited funds of about N5.85bn into the Consolidated Revenue Account by holding back about N2.65bn. That’s not all. Ibrahim Lamorde was alleged to have conspired with some EFCC officers and external auditors “to operate and conceal a recovery account in the Central Bank of Nigeria and excluded the balances from audited financial statements between 2005 and 2011”. These are just icing on the cake. It was really bad.

His tenure witnessed an unprecedented level of impunity, and maladministration so much so that some staff of the agency under the auspices of Concerned Staff of EFCC wrote a strong-worded petition to President Buhari on October 15, 2015.

Lamorde: A clog in Buhari’s anti-corruption crusade

The allegations in the petition are not what should be ever associated with the chair of an anti-corruption agency like EFCC. It was so bad that it sounded like a movie script. They were so weighty that I somewhat quaked and imagined how these allegations were not investigated. I mean, with such a petition written to President Muhammad Buhari, I expected as the first point of duty for Ibrahim Magu his successor was to investigate these allegations that are already in the public space. But no he didn’t. or is he doing it discreetly?

Part of the petition reads: “Corruption and corrupt acts are not only tolerated but also celebrated under Ibrahim Lamorde. One is free to do whatever he wants to as long as he belongs to the clique. All cases of oil bunkering transferred to the Commission by the Military or NSCDC mostly handled by the Port Harcourt Zonal office of the Commission whether under investigation or concluded as it is the practice of the Commission under Ibrahim Lamorde to release the primary culprits i.e. the vessel and the truck owners who are involved in the bunkering and the loaders and the drivers who are ordinary workers are prosecuted and convicted.”

The above explains the vintage EFCC under Ibrahim Lamorde. And to think he is not behind bars is worrying, worrying because it sends the wrong message to the public, including the international community. It also cast a shadow on the anti-corruption drive of this present administration. My question is thus? If former NSA Sambo Dasuki could be made to face the law for abuse of office, what stops the relevant agencies from doing same to Ibrahim Larmode? We need to be sincere in our dealings in the country and halt the habit of shielding or fighting a selective anti-corruption war. They said “he who seeks equity must do equity” the EFCC should not be exempted from this by bringing Ibrahim Lamorde to answers questions bordering on his stewardship while at the helms of affairs at the EFCC.

It is not a witch-hunt. It is called giving an account of your stewardship and taking responsibility. It has to be so in an attempt to restore public confidence back to an organization that was established to fight corruption. In my opinion, this is the rational thing to do because the Lamorde era at the EFCC is actually a clog in the anti-corruption crusade. And it must be removed by investigating the allegations and serving appropriate punishment to serve as a deterrent to others bestowed with the responsibility of public office.

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