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Lamorde Gets Senate Nod, Confirms Corruption in EFCC

The Senate Wednesday confirmed the nomination of Mr. Ibrahim Lamorde for appointment as Chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).
His confirmation hearing followed the submission of his name to the upper chamber by President Goodluck Jonathan on January 19, in accordance with Section 2(3) of the EFCC Act, 2004.

Lamorde, who has been acting as EFCC chairman since November 23, last year, following the removal of Mrs. Farida Waziri, stood on the Senate podium for over two hours answering probing questions from senators.
Senate President David Mark implored the new anti-corruption czar after his confirmation, to perform his duties satisfactorily.

Answering questions from the senators earlier, Lamorde admitted that although there are some corrupt officials among the staff of the commission, he had already put measures in place to sanitise the agency, disclosing that three officials of the agency were currently undergoing interrogation over corrupt practices.

He said: “Yes, to some extent, there is corruption within the EFCC. But since I assumed office as acting chairman, I have taken steps to address that issue. I have about three members of staff in detention on corruption cases. We have also initiated the prosecution of two officers whose cases are in court.

“I have also decided to establish an Internal Affairs Department. To further address the issue, I have decided to introduce polygraph (lie detector) tests that officers, including myself, should be made to take at six months intervals to address that problem.”

Lamorde added that the lifestyle of each staff of EFCC would be under scrutiny to ensure that it is in consonance with the official standards.

He explained that the expectations of Nigerians and the international community is high concerning his performance and assured the senators that he would live to expectations.

On the call for the establishment of special courts to handle corruption cases, Lamorde said the agitation was borne out of the need for the speedy disposal of corruption cases, and decongestion of conventional courts.

“Dedicated courts for corruption cases will help to a large extent in expeditious disposition of corruption cases, as corruption has become an issue that affects national life,” he said.

He reminded the Senate of the heavy work load on the average judge in a conventional court, and that a special court would help to reduce the pressure on judges and make the wheel of justice run more smoothly.

On plea bargains, the EFCC boss said the concept was not peculiar to Nigeria alone, pointing out that plea bargains are practised in jurisprudence the world over.

Lamorde, however, noted that plea bargains are purely at the discretion of the judges who are not obliged to accept whatever agreement reached by the prosecutor and the defence, saying the practice could not be completely dismissed as it depends on the manner of application.

Reacting to the allegation that the commission was not independent, Lamorde said on the contrary, EFCC enjoys full autonomy and independence, noting, “I have not personally experienced any external influence since I have been acting as chairman of the commission.”

He also refuted the allegation that the commission only targets members of the National Assembly while sparing members of the executive, particularly the Presidency, stating that each time the commission goes after any lawmaker, it does so based on the petitions received on the lawmaker.

On the allegation that the commission hardly ever makes public the amount of funds it receives from donor agencies, Lamorde said all the support coming to the commission from donor agencies come in the form of logistics support, personnel assistance, training support etc, and not cash.

He appealed to Nigerians to support the efforts of the commission in fighting corruption by volunteering information to it, because, according to him, “there is no way we can know what is going on in the various offices without somebody leading us to it.”

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