Let Lamorde Stay

What’s the source of the rumour that President Buhari would replace EFCC chairman Ibrahim Lamorde soon? If the rumour turns out to be true, then, we might as well kiss the anti-corruption war goodbye. A new head of the EFCC, especially one from outside the system, will need two years or longer to study the files he/she will inherit.

When I first made a case for continuity in the anti-graft agencies three months ago, I suspected that those at the receiving end of the EFCC’s recent onslaught were behind the campaigns for change in the headship of the EFCC. That the campaigns have been intensified at this time points to an evil plot to frustrate Buhari’s anti-corruption crusade. He must not succumb to the cabal that has held this country down for too long.

The president should learn to listen to those who tell him the truth. And he can learn the truth mainly from those who live outside of Aso Villa. Security reports could be manipulated, as could news reports, to achieve a selfish end. But foot soldiers like us have nothing to gain or lose by telling the truth. Yes, I can claim that nobody feels more strongly about anti-corruption than me. I’ve not been preaching stability in the anti-graft agencies or making a case for Lamorde for selfish reasons. Only on television have I set eyes on him or anyone in the ICPC or CCB. I’m not asking for anyone’s attention. Anyone who voted for Buhari would want him to succeed. That’s all.

Need I remind President Buhari that his best credential is his anti-corruption posture? He needs to build strong institutions to help him tackle the monster. And if anti-corruption agencies are to be strengthened, there should be minimal changes there. They should be better funded. And monitored.

For the sake of CHANGE (not continuity), Lamorde should stay. His first tenure expires in November or December. It ought to be renewed, if to maintain the momentum witnessed recently in the anti-graft war. Perhaps it’s the struggle for his seat that we’ve started reading about missing trillions and properties recovered from some crooks. I wish to believe that the accusation, like that of the rumour-monger who has entered Buhari’s mind, is a figment of the imagination. The “source” of the story could be one of those with high-profile corruption cases to answer at the EFCC.

Among those currently in the dock are Senate president Bukola Saraki, Sule Lamido and his two sons, Chimaroke Nnamani, Ikedi Ohakim, Steve Oronsaye, Murtala Nyako, Saraki’s wife, Yar’Adua’s daughter, Diezani Alison-Madueke and some oil thieves. I expect that, in no distant time, as the war progresses, ghost workers and bank wreckers will join the queue.

Lamorde may not be a saint – saints don’t live on earth anyway – but he is not a devil. The search for saints has delayed the appointment of ministers by four months, yet what have we got now? Of the 21 ministerial nominees, perhaps only 10 or 11 qualify as saints! That’s hardly a pass mark, considering that only one Judas is permissible in a group of 12 apostles. Lamorde, I dare say, is by far better than most of the 10 or 11 “ministerial saints” to be screened soon.

If there is any place experience is needed, it is in the EFCC. Larmode has been at the EFCC since its inception in 2003. An “outsider” is not likely to receive the cooperation of regular staff of the commission. As was the case in the past, when an outsider (Farida Waziri) came, we heard tales of missing files. How many were convicted for graft under Waziri. And why was she fired after just one tenure?

I still believe that Nuhu Ribadu’s removal as EFCC boss was a big mistake. We would have come a long way by now. By early 2007, Ribadu said the commission was trailing 31 state governors. The governors eventually got rid of him by funding the election of Yar’Adua and consequently getting his ear. What happened to the 31 files? All but one of the governors are free men today. A similar thing is bound to happen if Lamorde gets the boot. It would be time for all the high-profile suspects to clink glasses.

Those campaigning for Lamorde’s removal have been suggesting names of Nigerians with impeccable character to lead the EFCC. Unknown to them, getting a conviction in court requires more than having an honest man at the helm. Money has to be spent on evidence-gathering and good intelligence. The judiciary has to be kept on its toes; otherwise, corrupt judges and lawyers could conspire to keep postponing sittings until a new government comes or the litigants die.



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