19 April 2012

Nigeria: Senate Did Not Order Police to Probe Farida, Lamorde - EFCC

The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission,(EFCC) says it has observed 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.

Reacting in a statement on behalf of the EFCC today, spokesman Wilson Uwajuren said, "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."

"...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."

Uwajuren further explained that, "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.

Uwajuren alleges that mischief makers may have latched on a presentation by a suspect in the N4.6billion pension scam in the Office Head of Service of the Federation Pension, Dr Shuaibu Teidi who tendered a document which (again) continued to allege that the EFCC Chairman benefited 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 those who are still not convinced even after the open confession by Madubuike, who admitted that he has never met Lamorde all his life.

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