By Olusegun Emmanuel, Abuja
The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC and the Independent Corrupt Practices Commission, ICPC, have said that the anti-corruption agencies lack the competence to probe allegation of corruption levelled against the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation, NNPC.
The two anti-graft agencies, who appeared before the Senate Committee on Drugs, Narcotic, Financial Crimes and Anti-Corruption, in defence of the 2014 budget, explained that the NNPC requires technical expertise which they currently lack.
But EFCC chairman, Ibrahim Lamorde, however, attributed the delay in its agency’s probe into the alleged missing $20 billion to the n-going investigation at the National Assembly.
He said the EFCC would commence its own investigation as soon as the parliament concludes its current probe into the matter.
Lamorde, said the findings of the National Assembly would be of great help to any probe to be launched by it.
“The issue about the NNPC is already being investigated by the National Assembly. For every investigation, once the National Assembly is on it, we have to wait until they conclude. The minister of finance said that they want commission an audit firm to do a forensic auditing of the finances of the NNPC,” he said.
“You need a professional firm to handle this. This is not a common investigation. These are very technical things. Let the audit be carried out. Let’s know exactly what we are talking about, understand what the figures are and criminal investigation can follow. You can’t start an investigation on nothing. You need a foundation. You can’t put a super structure without a base. So we need that base to put our own investigation on it,” Lamorde said.
Pointing out that the EFCC secured a total of 117 convictions in various courts across the country in 2013.He told the senate committee that between January 2014 till date, the commission had secured 30 convictions just as he assured that it would reach 150 before the year runs out.
Lamorde refuted the allegation that the commission was selective in its prosecution, saying, “The case of the fuel subsidy payment for which we charged people to court is still very fresh.”
“Even the son of the immediate past PDP National Chairman, Bamanga Tukur is one of the people standing trial. We did not go into the matter until it was concluded by the National Assembly and forwarded to us.
“We can’t just into something that still being investigated by the National Assembly. It’s not a mob kind of thing. There must be a sequence of events that would lead us to taking decision. Let the hearing of the National Assembly be concluded. Normally when it is concluded, it is forwarded to us for investigation,” Lamorde said.
On why the commission failed to investigate the former Aviation Minister, Stella Oduah, the EFCC Chairman said, “I think people are in a hurry. What people want to hear is that just because there is an issue today, tomorrow you are shouting kill him, stone him…. We don’t do investigation by the media. When we are ready to charge the individual to court we would do so.
“But when the investigation is going on, let the investigation be conclusive. Otherwise we will join into what everybody is saying. It’s like the market place where everybody is shouting at the same time.
“Law enforcement investigation is not like that. It’s supposed to be systematic and you work towards getting evidence to sustain your case if eventually you go to court. You can’t just go to court based on assumptions. We have gone very far with some of our investigations. Very soon, when we are ready you will see us in court,” he retorted.
Similarly, the Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Offences Commission, ICPC, said its inability to probe NNPC over the years was due to the sophistication of the agencies account which is far above its capacity.
According to the commission’s Acting Chairman, Prof. Olu Aina: “The account of NNPC is so sophisticated that it would require hiring financial experts to study it for needed investigation,