The Inspector General of Police, Solomon Arase, has written to the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission indicating his plan to recall all police officers who have so far served in the commission for five years, according to Premium Times reports. In a letter, with reference number CB/33/80/IGP.SEC/Abj/Vol.52/60, and dated July 14, 2015, Mr. Arase directed the EFCC to compile a list of all officers in the category, and forward to his office without delay.
According to the report, sources said the directive, if implemented, would affect key leaders and investigators at the anti-graft agency – including the EFCC chairman – who has also spent more than five years at the commission.
Mr. Larmode has, cumulatively, spent 12 years at the EFCC. Lamorde was appointed director of operations in 2003 under Nuhu Ribadu’s leadership of the agency. He was then made acting chairman in January 2008 after his boss’ controversial removal. He handed over to Farida Waziri in May 2008, but was again appointed director of operations of the commission in December 2010.
On the removal of Mrs. Waziri in November 2011, he was named acting chairman and confirmed substantive head of the agency in February 2012. Premium Times’ sources noted that most of the officers being recalled are among the key investigators at the antigraft agency, a number of them trained abroad. While Mr. Arase’s intentions for moving to redeploy the officers are unclear, the sources said the removal of these key officers will totally weaken the activities of the EFCC especially as it is revving up the war against corruption.
However, police spokesperson, Emmanuel Ojukwu, said he is not aware of the said letter. But he confirmed that there is a “routine movement” of police officers attached to various agencies including the EFCC, the Federal Inland Revenue Service, the Security and Exchange Commission, among many others. “This routine movement of officers by the IGP is in order to allow the officers gather other experiences,” Mr. Ojukwu said.
When asked if the motive of the routine movement is to weaken the antigraft agency, Mr. Ojukwu said, “That is nonsense talk. Any police officer is an investigator and every police officer can work anywhere.” He also said the reshuffling can occur at anytime as ordered by the police chief. The spokesperson for the EFCC, Wilson Uwujaren, also said he has not been briefed about the Police IG letter but promised to crosscheck and revert to Premium Times.
He is however yet to do so as at the time of this report. The EFCC is currently being probed by the senate over allegations by an individual named George Ubor, who is claiming the commission has diverted over N1 trillion assets it recovered from corrupt people. Mr. Ubor himself is being prosecuted by the commission.
The probe came in the wake of the commission’s investigations of Toyin Saraki, the wife of the Senate President Bukola Saraki, over allegations of fraud committed when her husband was governor of Kwara State. The EFCC has questioned the motive and procedure of the Senate probe. But in a statement on Tuesday, the Senate president denied any ulterior motive behind the senate’s decision to invite the chairman of EFCC.
Mr. Saraki said the anti-graft commission is not the only government agency facing a Senate probe. Anti-corruption activists say the onslaught on Mr. Lamorde and the EFCC followed a similar pattern of attack adopted in removing Mr. Ribadu in 2008, and in weakening the commission afterwards.
Mr. Ribadu’s removal as EFCC chairman in 2007 came a few days after operatives of the commission arrested and charged a former Delta State governor, James Ibori, over corruption allegations.
In removing Mr. Ribadu at the time, the then Inspector General of Police, Mike Okiro, simply redeployed him and sent him off on course at the Nigerian Institute of Policy and Strategic Studies, Kuru, shortly after he charged Mr. Ibori to court.
Many believe it was Messrs Ibori, and Mr. Saraki, an influential governor and power broker during the Umaru Yar’Adua administration, who backed Mrs. Waziri to succeed Mr. Ribadu. For the years that followed, the EFCC remained largely weak and ineffective.
In November 2013, speaking in an interview with African Independent Television, AIT, Mr. Ribadu said his removal was in line with a well-crafted plan to destroy the commission. He said, “They did that for three years. They reversed everything that was good, the first thing they did was to withdraw the prosecutorial powers of the EFCC.”