The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) Chairman, Mr. Ibrahim Lamorde, yesterday went the way of his predecessors: he was fired. President Muhammadu Buhari abruptly ended his reign that would have ended in February 2016. Although former President Goodluck Jonathan appointed him EFCC chairman, albeit in acting capacity, on November 23, 2011 to replace Mrs. Farida Waziri, the Senate confirmed his appointment on February 15, 2012.
According to legal experts, since the constitution does not recognise statutory appointments in acting capacity, such an officeholder’s appointment takes effect from the day his appointment is ratified by the National Assembly.
Lamorde is the third helmsman of the nation’s foremost anti-graft agency, coming after Mallam Nuhu Ribadu and Waziri, who were also booted out of office.
He was sighted at the presidential villa yesterday rushing to the president’s office shortly after the inauguration of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) Chairman, Professor Mahmood Yakubu and five national commissioners. As he walked hurriedly pass State House correspondents to the president’s office, it was clear that he might have been summoned.
Presidency sources confirmed that Lamorde was directed by Buhari to hand over to a senior investigative police officer at the commission, Mr. Ibrahim Magu, who will chair the commission in the interim.
Magu, an Assistant Commissioner of Police, was until his appointment, Head of the Economic Governance Unit of EFCC. As at the time of filing in this report, no official reason was given for his removal.
Presidential spokesman, Mr. Femi Adesina, in a statement, confirmed the appointment of Magu as the acting EFCC chairman. “Mr. Magu, who is an Assistant Commissioner of Police, is to take over from Mr. Ibrahim Lamorde who is proceeding on terminal leave ahead of the formal expiration of his tenure in February next year,” the presidency said.
Lamorde’s leadership of the EFCC has been enmeshed in a controversy, especially following allegations of misappropriating the commission’s funds, prompting a recent investigation by the National Assembly.
Months before his removal, Lamorde was accused by one Mr. George Uboh, of allegedly diverting about N1 trillion, being proceeds from recovered stolen funds and seizure of assets, especially from a former Bayelsa State Governor, the late Mr. Diepreye Alamieyeseigha and other politicians. Consequent upon Uboh’s petition to the Senate, Lamorde was invited to appear before the Senate Committee on Ethics, Privileges and Public Petitions.
Efforts to reach the Head of Media and Publicity of the EFCC, Mr. Wilson Uwujaren, were unsuccessful, as one of his phone lines was turned off, while the other was not available.
Prior to yesterday, there had been reports that the president was not disposed to giving Lamorde a second term and was shopping for his replacement.
Lamorde was sacked on a day the Senate Committee on Ethics, Privileges and Public Petitions, suspended indefinitely his probe, earlier scheduled for today. A statement by the Clerk to the Committee, Mr. Freedom Osolo, did not, however, give any reason for the postponement.
“I regret to inform you that the hearing of the Senate Committee on Ethics, Privileges and Public Petitions slated for Tuesday, 10th November, 2015 has been postponed for the time being. “You will be duly informed when the meeting is rescheduled, please.
The committee regrets any inconveniences the postponement would have caused you,” the statement said. The Senate investigative committee had suspended further action on the petition against Lamorde pending the plea by the EFCC legal team, which requested for more time pending the release of the agency’s annual financial report by the end of September.