Law News
Alleged diversion of N1trn: Justice Ministry seeks Larmode’s probe

THE Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) has been asked by the Federal Ministry of Justice to investigate the allegation that the agency’s chairman, Ibrahim Lamorde, diverted about N1 trillion proceeds of corruption recovered by the anti-graft agency.

The request by the EFCC to investigate Lamorde was informed by a petition dated September 18, 2015, sent to the Solicitor-General and Permanent Secretary, Federal Ministry of Justice, Mr. Abdullahi Yola.

The petition was filed by a security expert and Chief Executive Officer of a security firm, Panic Alert Security Systems (PASS), George Uboh,

Uboh sent a reminder letter dated September 28, to Yola, threatening to sue the ministry, if he failed to respond to his petition within seven days.

In the petition, Uboh asked the Justice Ministry, “through which EFCC derives its power to immediately rescind the fiat to prosecute criminal suspects from EFCC”.

He also sought a “fiat for the prosecution of EFCC’s past and present leadership and their known and unknown co-conspirators via the 22-page preliminary criminal charges the undersigned has prepared.”

The ministry’s letter, signed by the Director, Public Prosecutions of the Federation, Muhammad Diri, on behalf of the Permanent Secretary, is dated October 8, 2015.

The letter, which was made available to reporters in Abuja yesterday, indicated that Yola had directed the EFCC to investigate the allegation against Lamorde and forward the result of investigation to him “as soon as it is completed”.

It reads: “I refer to your letter dated September 28, 2015, in respect of the above mentioned subject matter.

“I am directed to inform you that your petition has been sent to the EFCC for their response to the allegation contained therein. The commission has been directed by the Solicitor-General of the Federation and Permanent Secretary to forward the result of its investigation as soon as it is completed.

“Accept please, the assurances of the highest regards of the Solicitor-General of the Federation and Permanent Secretary.”

Uboh, in a statement yesterday, argued that “pursuant to the Civil Service Rules, Ibrahim Lamorde must step aside during the pendency of the investigation by the commission”.

Uboh, also in his petition, alleged that Lamorde diverted among others, the loot recovered from a former Bayelsa State Governor, Diepreye Alamieyeseigha; and ex-Inspector-General of Police Tafa Balogun.

He accused Lamorde of specific instances of under-remittance and non-disclosure of proceeds of corruption recovered from criminal suspects, including Balogun and Alamieyeseigha.

The alleged fraud, he said, dated back to Lamorde’s days as the director of Operations of the EFCC between 2003 and 2007, as well as the acting commission’s chairman between June 2007 and May 2008, when the then chairman of the anti-graft agency, Mr. Nuhu Ribadu, was away for a course at the National Institute for Policy and Strategic Studies, Kuru, Jos.

Uboh, who alleged that the EFCC was yet to account for “offshore recoveries” and that “over half of the assets seized from suspects are not reflected in EFCC exhibit records,” promised the Senate that he would produce “overwhelming evidence” to back his claims against Lamorde.

He equally accused Lamorde of conspiring 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”.

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