The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC and the Australian Federal Police, AFP on Thursday, April 19, 2012 signed a Memorandum of Understanding to enhance law enforcement partnership between Nigeria and Australia. Chairman of the EFCC, Mr. Ibrahim Lamorde who signed the MoU on behalf of the Commission said it is expected to take relationship between the two agencies to a higher level.
The MoU was signed by the EFCC chairman, Mr. Lamorde and Commission Secretary, Emmanuel Akomaye for the EFCC and Australian Ambassador to Nigeria, Mr. Ian McConville and Superintendent Richard Stanford, Liaison officer of the Australian Federal Police based in Pretoria, South Africa.
Lamorde, who commended the efforts of the Australian Federal Police, thanked the Australian government for the MoU. He said that the Commission’s relationship with the Australian law enforcement establishment especially the Queensland Police dates back to 2004. He said the two agencies have been collaborating in tackling Transnational Organized Crimes, adding that officers of the Commission have also attended programmes organised by Queensland Police in Melbourne.
He said the MoU will take the relationship between the two countries to a higher level. “As law enforcement partners, there is the need to relate on law enforcement to law enforcement basis without necessarily engaging in formal request that is always attended with some bureaucratic bottlenecks. This MoU will enable us to exchange information, exchange intelligence and do joint operations, where necessary”.
The EFCC Chairman also said that the two agencies will continue to help each other in terms of capacity building down the line. “We stand to learn from each other’s expertise, it will be helpful for both law enforcement organizations, the AFP and the EFCC”.
The Commission Secretary, Mr. Emmanuel Akomaye, earlier in a welcome remark, noted that advances in technology has its downside as fraudsters now use the internet to perpetuate crimes. “In the light of this, the EFCC and the AFP deem it necessary to sign this MoU so that this law enforcement to law enforcement collaboration can be enhanced”, he said.
While expressing his belief in the collaboration, the Australian High Commissioner to Nigeria, Mr. Ian McConville says the EFCC is one organization in Nigeria that is doing a very commendable job in very difficult circumstances. “We the Australian government and in particular the Australian Federal Police and the Richard Stanford team promised a fruitful collaboration with the EFCC. Working with my team from here and working with Stanford and his team from Pretoria, South Africa, I believe this MoU will be very fruitful”, he said.
In his contribution, Stanford said his team’s mission was to identify threats against the country they represent from organized crimes. “And when we identify those threats, then we identify the organizations that need collaboration to surmount the threats. In Nigeria, EFCC is doing a wonderful job. EFCC has been in the forefront, assisting Australian victims of economic crimes by investigating, arresting and prosecuting the culprits; and even repatriating the proceeds of crimes back to the victims in Australia. These efforts are commendable”, he said
He also commended the EFCC for its organization, expertise and planning in hosting the Regional Engagement Meeting on Transnational Fraud for West African Law Enforcement Agencies which ended on Wednesday, April 18th, 2012 at the EFCC Academy, Karoo, Abuja.
Other officials who accompanied the envoy to the signing of the MoU are: Christopher Watkins, Third Secretary, Australian Embassy and Stuart Mooney, Second Secretary, Australian Embassy, Nigeria.
Also on Thursday, EFCC said it has observed with concern, reports in sections of the media alleging that the Senate had directed the Nigeria Police to probe its former Chairman, Mrs Farida Waziri and the incumbent, Mr Ibrahim Lamorde for perceived wrongdoing in the Pension probe.
Wilson Uwujaren the commission’s spokesman said ,additionally it was reported that the Commission has been directed by the Senate to hands off further investigation of pension matters. These assertions which made banner headlines in some national dailies were gross misrepresentation of what transpired at the public hearing of the Senate Joint Committee on Investigations into Pension Administration on Tuesday April 17, 2012.
“The Commission wishes to state that, at no time did the Senate committee or the Senate as a whole order the police to probe the Chairman of the EFCC, Ibrahim Lamorde and his predecessor, Mrs Farida Waziri. Neither did it request the EFCC to hands off pension matters. Reports to the contrary, may have been promoted by interests to achieve certain nefarious ends.
“For the avoidance of doubt and the benefit of millions of Nigerians who may have been misled by the falsehood published by sections of the media, the following represent the true account of events at the public hearing:
Former EFCC Chairman, Mrs Farida Waziri and the incumbent, Mr Ibrahim Lamorde appeared at the hearing in response to invitations by the committee. For Lamorde, it was his second time. When he first appeared before the Committee some weeks back he was confronted with a document that alleged that he collected estacode to travel to the US for a biometric capturing exercise by the Pension Task Team, a claim which he vehemently denied. The EFCC Chairman stated that he had never travelled abroad on any biometric capturing assignment neither did he receive any estacode from anybody for that purpose. Even the head of the Pension Task Team, Abdulrasheed Maina, who was present on the occasion, confirmed that Lamorde did not travel and did not collect a kobo in estacode. The EFCC Chairman said he was sure that the documents and claims regarding his person were forged.
The puzzle then was who collected the estacode supposedly raised in the name of the EFCC Chairman?
That puzzle was resolved on Tuesday April 17 when the Chairman of the Senate Joint Committee on Investigations into Pension Administration, Senator Aloysius Etok announced that his Committee, after careful investigation following Lamorde’s denial of any involvement in collecting estacode for any trip abroad, had found the person that used the name of the EFCC Chair to collect estacode for the biometric capturing exercise.
Christian Madubuike, an official of the Police Pension Office was unveiled by the Committee as the one who received the money that was supposedly meant for the EFCC Chairman, according to the claims previously made in documents tendered to the Committee.
And in his open testimony, Madubuike confirmed that his account was used to collect the money listed against the name of Lamorde and that he collected the money and handed same to Mr. John Yusuf, an Assistant Director in the Police Pension Office who is also a member of the Maina-led Pension Task Team.
He gave graphic accounts of how he had been a conduit for siphoning of pension funds by top officials of the Pensions office since 2007. “Monies were paid into my account without my knowledge, but my boss would call me and tell me that money had been paid into my account and I should go and withdraw it and return it to him”, he said.
Contrary to the seemingly orchestrated reports that came on the heels of the hearing of Tuesday, 17 April 2012, the Committee repeatedly asked the EFCC to follow up on some of the leads and documents the Committee thought would help the investigation of the Commission, were handed over at regular intervals documents to the EFCC Chairman. Repeatedly too, he asked the EFCC Chairman to note the absence of some of the persons who failed to honour its invitation. This constant reference to the EFCC hardly tallies with reports which suggest that the Senate had ordered the EFCC to hands of pension matters.
Said EFCC spokesman,perhaps what mischief makers may have latched on to paint the picture of a blanked Senate order for police investigation of the EFCC was the fall out of a presentation by a suspect in the N4.6billion pension scam in the Office Head of Service of the Federation Pension , Dr Shuaibu Teidi. He tendered a document which (again) continued to allege that the EFCC Chairman benefitted from a phoney biometric capturing exercise in the Diaspora. Again, Mr. Lamorde denied that he ever went on such a trip or collected money under any guise.
It was the EFCC Chairman who even suggested that this time, the truth of his claim be verified by the police which the Committee acceded to.
The EFCC Chairman has restated that he has never gone on any biometric capturing trip abroad and has never collected estacode from any body. His determination to prove his innocence prompted the suggestion for an independent verification by the Police for the benefit of sceptics who are still not convinced even after the open confession by Madubuike, who admitted that he has never met Lamorde all his life.
The sly remark by one Mr Toyin Ishola that EFCC is a friend to Maina and as such, it is possible that the money got to them is a most irresponsible comment from a senior public servant even though he was asked by the Committee to withdraw the comment, which he did.
From the forgoing, it is necessary to make the following observation.
- Those who still don’t believe the evidence supplied by Madubuike that Lamorde’s name was simply used by unscrupulous officials, and others who are inclined to believe the lie of Ishola that pension officials were sharing money with EFCC officials should answer these posers: Madubuike confessed that he has been collecting monies and remitting back to Mr Yusuf since 2007. Was EFCC involved in pension investigation at the time? So who was Yusuf paying the monies collected from Madubuike to between 2007 and 2010 when EFCC officially became involved in pension investigation?
- EFCC was not the only law enforcement agency involved in the biometric exercise. There were officers from the ICPC, Code of Conduct Bureau and the SSS, which gives the assignment an inter agency outlook. Unfortunately attention is focused only on the EFCC and the person of Lamorde!
- All EFCC investigators scheduled to go on pensioners verification exercises abroad, duly travelled, contrary to the reports that the Commission’s employees collected and pocketed estacode for work not done. Their travel records can be verified from Nigerian and their host countries’ immigration services and also from various Nigerian Embassies abroad, where the exercises were conducted.
- There is no officer of EFCC by the name Idi Abdullahi who is supposedly on secondment from the SSS that was allegedly paid N86 million ‘estacode”.
- That the Committee handed several documents to the EFCC for further investigation and even requested the Chairman of the Commission to turn in a report within a week is a clear indication that there was no such order from the Senate that EFCC should hands off pension matters, over which the it is already in court with chief protagonists, Dr. Shuaibu Teidi and Mr. John Yusuf.