…EFCC officials ordered out of public hearing
By Sadiq Umar, Abuja. Officials of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission ( EFCC), were on Wednesday sent out of the public hearing session of the Senate Committee on Ethics, Privileges and Public Petition on N1trillion scam leveled against their Chairman, Ibrahim Lamorde. This happened amid allegation by petitioners that Lamorde gave some of the choice properties seized from former Bayelsa State Governor, DSP Alamieyesigha and others, to Usman Lamorde, his younger brother. The EFCC officials led by Chile Okoroma , the head of Legal Services walked themselves into trouble at the hearing by seeking for permission to make contribution despite earlier request made by the commission for extension of date of appearance before the committee. After hearing the submissions of the petitioner against the EFCC boss, Okoroma sought for permission to make some comments upon which his identity and that of his other colleagues were demanded for by the Chairman of the Committee, Senator Samuel Anyanwu ( PDP Imo East). Their disclosure of being officials of the EFCC did not go down well with the chairman and other members of the committee , based on the fact that as a body , EFCC had earlier forwarded an official letter to the committee Tuesday morning for extension of date of appearance of its Chairman, Lamorde before the committee in respect of the petition. But Okoroma went ahead to make his comment without permission by describing the method being adopted by the committee to conduct the public hearing as unjust and contrary to the law, saying ” it is very wrong for a petitioner to be heard publicly in the absence of the person the petition is against”. An outburst that made a member of the committee, Senator Rafiu Ibrahim ( APC Kwara South) to request for walking out of the EFCC officials from the session, since they were not even expected to be in attendance , let alone, administered oath, for the purposes of commenting at the session. He said: Mr Chairman, in line with our tradition and relevant rules governing this type of session, since Okoroma and the other EFCC officials here , are not known to have been here in the first place, but decided to be here and even went ahead to start commenting without being administered oath for that purpose, I move that the Chairman walk them out of the session” A motion the committee chairman spontaneously acted upon by asking the the three EFCC officials and other lawyers who accompanied them to immediately leave the venue of the hearing session. But Okoroma even after been walked out of the session , still insisted that the method being adopted by the committee in hearing the petitioner, was illegal and unjustifiable. He said: “This committee is a committee of the Senate, known as one of the lawmaking institutions in the country but what we are seeing today, is law breaking because it is wrong for a petitioner to be heard in the public in the absence of the person, the entire petition is against” Meanwhile, at the hearing session, the petitioner, George Uboh made series of submissions backed with facts and figures , indicating that the anti graft body, must have defrauded the country to the tune of N2.051trillion from seized properties and funds of individuals under investigation by the commission. According to him, on Naira recoveries alone, ‘In a December 02, 2011 letter EFCC sent to the Chairman, House Committee on Drugs, Narcotics and Financial Crimes, EFCC stated that the aggregate recoveries from 2004 to 2011 (8 financial years) was N1,326,754,554,482:80. EFCC did not mention where the N1.3 Trillion recovered was remitted to. EFCC’s claim that it did not recover up to a Trillion is complete false. He gave the breakdown as follows – 2004—N7,070,693,130:00 2005—N965,651,737,039:00 2006—N6,622,261,783:79 2007—N7,700,150,381:20 2008—N18,141,628,546:98 2009—N130,885,187,726:83 2010—N52,877,464,867:00 2011—N137,805,431,008:08 He disclosed further that “In EFCC’s “SUMMARY OF EFCC MONETARY RECOVERIES 2003-MARCH, 2013” (11 financial years), EFCC stated that the aggregate recoveries for eleven financial years is N497,385,427,485:63; EFCC did not mention where the N497.3 Billion recovered was remitted to, going by the following breakdown- 2003—N974,783,213:06 2004—N21,018,557,263:28 2005—N71,053,996,008:60 2006—N8,199,908,189:03 2007—N41,479,032,319:70 2008—N44,542,822,622:30 2009—N255,306,693,033:55 2010—N10,559,513,355:91 2011—N11,117,460,717:88 2012—N27,844,769,688:19 2013—N5,287,891,074:13 Uboh who stated that the documents submitted were prepared under the chairmanship of Lamorde , went further to disclose that total recoveries to be remitted as confirmed by EFCC are 1.995 Trillion + 48.9 Billion + 7.3 Billion + .4 Billion =N 2.051 Trillion, asking “AFTER RECOVERING OVER 2 TRILLION HOW DID THE FUNDS MELT AWAY? He went further by alleging that in defrauding the Nation of seized funds from corrupt Nigerians under investigation, EFCC under Lamorde also indulges in doctoring of Bank Accounts and diversion of already seized loots. He said: Two access bank recovery account statements tendered herein show Opening balances of -0- as of 1, July 2004, but no transaction occurred until June/July 2008 respectively. These transactions are expunged Where are the funds deposited between July 2004 and June/July, 2008? “EFCC diverted and concealed N779 Million Naira of recoveries from Tafa Balogun in its record (aggregate should be 3,037,255,521.60 – not 2,258,100,516.98); Instead of transferring 3.3 billion from Spring bank to its Access bank recovery account, EFCC transferred only 2.2 billion and concealed it by understating the summation of the balances in the various accounts hence the access bank statement had 2.2 Billion Naira after the concealment” He consequently concluded by urging the committee to urge the Federal Government to compel EFCC to remit 2.051 Trillion to the Federal Government of Nigeria. He added: “Access bank should be compelled to bring complete and unadulterated statements from 2004 till date. “Aminu Ibrahim and co, Auditors, should be compelled to come and shed light on discrepancies in its records and that of the already traced EFCC accounts. After his submissions, the Committee Chairman, Sam Anyanwu, said the allegations are very weighty and the committee will look into them very seriously but added that , they are on a facts -finding mission and not out to run down anybody or agency.