The Senate Committee on Ethics, Privileges and Public Petitions on Wednesday, August 26, 2015, sent the legal representatives of the chairman of the Economic and Financial Crime Commission (EFCC), Ibrahim Lamorde and other officials of the commission out of a committee sitting meant to investigate N1 trillion allegedly diverted by Lamorde.
The committee had summoned Lamorde to defend himself on allegations of diversion of government the funds but the anti-graft agency wrote the committee pleading for more time to defend the allegations.
During the hearing, while the petitioner, Chief Executive Officer, Panic Alert Security Services (PASS), George Oboh, was being crossed-examined, director of the EFCC’s legal department, Chile Okoroma, interjected that he had a presentation to make.
Okoroma expressed surprise at the documents that had been tendered by Oboh, adding that the EFCC did not get the copies containing those elements.
He asked to be briefed on the workings of the committee, explaining that it was wrong for the petition to be heard when the accused was not present. Senator Dino Melaye explained that it was the committee’s prerogative to decide the direction of the hearing.
The hearing took a dramatic twist when the committee’s chairman, Samuel Anyanwu, directed that the hearing room be cleared of all EFCC representatives before the committee could continue, which was quickly carried out by the sergeant-at-arms.
In his disposition, Oboh explained, among other strategies, how Lamorde cornered and planned to use seized assets. He named Lamorde’s younger brother, Usman Lamorde, as one of the beneficiaries, pointing out that Usman was given choice assets in the country, especially in Abuja.
Oboh fingered two Nigerian banks, Access and the defunct Intercontinental Bank, as two parties that helped the anti-graft agency to hide recovered funds and profits from recovered assets.
In documents disposed before the committee, Oboh said, “EFCC confirmed that several cheques and drafts valued at N1.5 billion and $1.3 million forfeited by Diepreye Alamieyesigha were deposited in the commission’s recovery account.
“An agent appointed to manage and dispose six real estate properties forfeited by Alamieyesigha confirmed that N1.9b was remitted to EFCC between 2008 and 2009 as proceeds from the sales and interests from the properties.
“The agent confirmed remitting N60b vide Intercontinental Bank draft in 2008 as balance of rent while N3.7b was confirmed by the EFCC as the amount received from Alamieyesigha’s seized assets,” he said.
The petitioner added that EFCC traded with N3.7 from March 2009 to February 2010 with 12 per cent per annum. In Oboh’s calculation, Lamorde failed to remit the interest of N1.1b to government, “EFCC continued to trade with the balance of N1.1b from January 2010 to October 2013 with the interest rate of 12 per cent per annum. This money yielded N474.2m, which should have accrued to Bayelsa State government, but EFCC is not only keeping it back, still trading with it.”
The PASS director also alleged that Lamorde failed to account for 95 per cent of offshore assets and funds. “EFCC declared a fraction of what was seized from Alamieyesigha,” he said.
Oboh zeroed in on what the EFCC recovered explaining that former EFCC chair, Farida Waziri told the then President, Goodluck Jonathan, that naira recovery was N1.9 trillion while offshore recoveries stood at $316.1m, €32.1m and £1.2m respectively.
He said, Lamorde should have remitted N2.051 trillion to government.
In a dramatic twist, senators, under the Unity Forum of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC), have kicked against the ongoing probe of the anti-graft agency.
Lamorde was, however, absent as Chairman of the Committee read a letter where the EFCC chairman pleaded for enough time to respond to the issues raised by the petitioner.
But addressing newsmen shortly after he was walked out alongside others,, Lamorde’s representative, Barrister Ugochukwu disclosed that the EFCC boss asked him to represent him( Lamorde) at the hearing, just as he expressed his disappointment on the Senate Committee.