FROM THE ARCHIVES: Ibrahim Lamorde (new Acting EFCC Chairman) In His Own Words (2006) – With Section on "EFCC Operations"

5 Comments » January 16th, 2008 posted by // Categories: Special Interviews



 

 

January 16, 2008

 

 

Brief Background:

PRESS RELEASE FROM STATE HOUSE, ABUJA

Further to his approval of AIG Nuhu Ribadu’s nomination for a course at the National Institute for Policy and Strategic Studies (NIPSS), Kuru, President Umaru Musa Yar’Adua has approved the appointment of Assistant Commissioner of Police Ibrahim Lamorde as acting Chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).

ACP Lamorde is currently the EFCC’s Director of Operations.

Olusegun Adeniyi (Special Adviser ,Communications)

January 11, 2008

 


FROM THE ARCHIVES:  Ibrahim Lamorde (New Acting EFCC Director) In His Own Words (An Inside EFCC Interview)

[With additional detailed information on  “EFCC Operations” by the ZT Team]

Excerpted from   “ZeroTolerance: The Magazine of Nigeria’s Economic & Financial Crimes Commission” Volume 1, No. 1, July 2006
http://www.efccnigeria.org/index.php?option=com_docman&task=doc_download&gid=52

We Have Earned the Respect of Law Enforcement Agencies  around the World – — Lamorde

Q: What would you consider the major o p e r a t i o n a l challenges over the last three years of EFCC’s existence?

A: The initial difficulty that we encountered when we started was the fact that we were a new organization and people did not know us. People were only used to the existing law enforcement agencies and there were instances when people even resisted arrest saying they didn’t know what EFCC was all about. That created some initial problems. However, the Executive Chairman got the police authorities to write letters to all police formations throughout the country, informing them of the existence of the Commission and asking them to extend maximum cooperation to us. And the measure we adopted at that time, which we still employ up till now, was to make sure that we report to the nearest police station in any place we want to carry out an operation. We let the DPO of that area know if it is within Lagos. Outside Lagos, we get a letter to the Commissioner of Police in charge of the State to inform him of our presence and areas of operation.

Apart from that, like any other young organization we have problem of logistics, but we got some assistance from the police who gave us some vehicles in addition to the two we inherited from the National Committee on Financial Crimes.

There was also this problem of getting assistance from other parts of the world.

By the nature of the functions of the commission, and the type of crimes that we are charged with the responsibility of addressing, the cooperation of law enforcement agencies across the world is vital. But, EFCC was a new agency, they also didn’t know anything about us –whether we were a police force, or some other kind of body. The Chairman had to attend lots of meetings and other international engagements to generate the desired awareness. And also the Interpol, were of tremendous assistance in helping to disseminate information about the existence of the Commission and encouraging other law enforcement agencies all over the world to interact with us. In addition to that, the local representatives of some of these international agencies here in Nigeria assisted us tremendously.

Q: Some Nigerians have identified certain individuals who they believe are corrupt and they allege that EFCC does not seem interested in such persons.

A: When people say selective prosecution of cases or persecution, I don’t really understand what they mean. What is selective in the work that we are doing? In fact the public officials that have been affected by our activities are people that are directly related to the government in power. You know whatever you do in this world, people will read meanings into it and insinuations will be made. But that should not deter people from doing what they are supposed to be doing. When people say selective prosecution, I want examples. If you are talking about the investigation in
Plateau or Bayelsa state, these are all PDP states. They are not AD or ANPP controlled. If you are talking about the ministers, they were appointees of Mr. President and some of the other public officials and persons in the private sector were known personal friends of Mr. President.

Those apart, I also want people to appreciate the fact that one, we are new; two, we are still very small; three, one case involving a public office holder can take one year or more to conclude investigation, just for the enormity of the work you need to prove your case. That is one. Secondly, public officials, especially state governors have a lot of things and because of this immunity thing, getting certain information becomes very difficult. If you look at the two cases involving governors, that of Bayelsa and Plateau state, you would find they have something in common. Both of them were arrested in London which means that a lot of information was passed on from the outside to this country. Work must have been done from the outside that gave clue to most or some of the things they did within.

Q: We have seen a rising level of cooperation in the past one year with law enforcement agencies in Europe and America. To what do we owe this?

A: First and foremost, there was the initial assistance we had from Interpol in letting people know that we are there. Secondly, the chairman took his time to go round and let people know of our existence. But most importantly, it is our work that has helped to put us in a position that other law enforcement agencies around the world now want to do business with us. It is about credibility. Nobody wants to work with you if they know for instance that you are inefficient, unproductive and above all, that you cannot be trusted. The whole essence of cooperation between individuals or organizations, local or foreign, is the exchange of information. If I cannot trust you, I cannot have anything to do with you.

It is as simple as that. International law enforcement agencies have over the years developed an impression about Nigeria. They don’t trust us; they believe that we would sell any information given to us and compromise their investigation over there.

But we did some few cases with them and they realized that they could trust us. One, they can trust us with the information that they give to us; two, they know that we will do the work; three, they know that we will give them the result within the shortest possible time. They have come here and we have also worked with them abroad. They have requested some of our officers to go across Europe and America. We have done cases with them, high profile cases involving hundreds of millions of dollars and they know that not even a cent was taken by any of our operatives. Nobody compromised and the work was done properly.

Based on these, they have come to realize that they can work with us. So this is why you find that we are getting this kind of cooperation. And locally here, most of these agencies have representation in the country, they monitor what is happening, they look at all of us, they observe what is happening and from their interaction locally they form their opinions. But I can tell you that we are receiving tremendous respect and cooperation from law enforcement outfits all over the world.

Q: Integrity is the watchword of EFCC, but how have you managed to safeguard and sustain the integrity of operatives who are out there in the field and face temptations from some of those they are investigating?

A: The moment you lose the battle of integrity you have lost everything. The most fundamental thing about this job that we are doing is the issue of the integrity of this organization and that of the people who work here. In EFCC, there is zero tolerance for corruption and this has been made very clear to all the people that have been brought in to work with us. The chairman normally gives new employee a kind of orientation lecture, telling them the dos and don’ts especially when it comes to issues of integrity and corruption.

There are no two ways to it, we don’t condone corruption. And what we do is that we take decisive action at the slightest suspicion that someone is heading in the wrong direction. We don’t need to confirm, suspicion is enough to deal with the situation. The mere fact that we suspect an individual is having some corrupt tendencies or we have complaints, even though unsubstantiated, but circumstantially there are indications that compromised integrity is a likely possibility, we do away with such individuals. And if there is a confirmed case of corruption –we are yet to get any – anybody found involved would be prosecuted.

There is no point in working with somebody that you don’t have confidence in. Once we can no longer trust you, there is no point in having you around. We have asked a lot of people to go. Some are protesting their innocence. It is unfortunate, but that is the situation. Once the circumstance indicates suspicion of corruption you cannot be part of the work that we do here.

Moreover, we have developed an internal mechanism to sustain the integrity of our operatives. We have in place, an integrity department which is not known to people not even to the operatives. There are people working here whose job it is to observe and monitor the operatives. They go out on operations with the operatives but they report back. Some of them are not even known to me. But I know that they exist and I know their head who reports directly to the Executive Chairman. It is only on occasion when the chairman wants me to see a particular report that he refers
it to me.

We had to put these things in place to ensure that things are done properly. You are being observed, I am being observed, and everyone is being observed. This the only way we can check cases of corruption because most times, they are very difficult to prove except in rare cases where you have one of the participants coming forward.

Q: Some Nigerians have expressed frustration that EFCC is not handling as many cases as they would have wanted. How do you react to this?

A: It is unfortunate that people complain that their complaints and petitions are being rejected. I will also want people to appreciate the fact that we are not only new but few. At the moment we have only three operations offices in the country: Lagos, Abuja and Port Harcourt. Lagos is the biggest operations office. It has more men, more cases and more responsibilities.

Of course this is a natural consequence of the setting of the country. Lagos being the financial capital of the nation you have lots of things happening. But even here in Lagos, when you look at the operations department, how many operatives do we have? In the whole country we have less than 500 operatives doing this work for us. And on daily basis, we receive nothing less than 300 complaints both through direct petitions submitted at our office and through e-mails.

And we also receive complaints from various missions in the country; the United States, Canadian, British, German and all the other embassies. There are also submissions from the government, including those from Nigerian missions abroad.

We have to prioritize. We cannot be a substitute to the police station. People have arguments with their girlfriend and they want the EFCC to come in; somebody is passing in front of a residence and dog bite him, he wants to report the owner of the dog to EFCC. Mundane cases that are so frivolous are being brought to EFCC. But that is not why we are here. We cannot handle cases such as these. May be in the
future when we have offices all over the place and we have expanded.

At the moment, we select only cases that we know are of national and international consequence; cases that when we do it, will help to improve the image of this country, make people understand what EFCC is doing and encourage foreign investors to come into Nigeria. That is why we give priority to some of the foreign cases because the image of the country is at stake. The economy of the country is down and we need people to come and people have refused to come because they feel their investments are not safe. We want to tell the whole world that these investments are safe. We also want to tell the world that not all Nigerians are criminals. And the only way we can prove this is to make everyone see that we do not protect our people who are proven to be bad.

Locally, we also want people to understand that you cannot commit any crime and get away with it, especially if you go into public office just for the sole purpose of making money. If you want to make money, do business. If you want to go into public office, go and serve.

Q: Is it only cases involving billions of naira or top people in the society that are accepted for investigation by EFCC?

A: No! Let me give you some instances.

There are cases that we have investigated where no money is lost. Some cases are of interest to us. One, may be it is a new trend in criminal enterprise and we want to nip it in the bud or we want to understand the concept, how it is done and then identify the perpetrators and stop it before it escalates and becomes another national problem. We take such cases. Again we have cases where people tend to compromise the integrity of certain government departments. Whether there is money lost or not we get involved. We are all familiar with the classical 419 cases and the damage that they have done to this country. Every where you go in this world, Nigerians are treated with a lot of suspicion.

Nobody wants to do business with us, because of suspicion based on previous experience with some compatriots and the perception that most business proposals from Nigerian are scams.

So we take all of these into consideration before we take up such matters. The point that needs emphasizing here is that it is humanly impossible for now, for EFCC to take up all the cases being referred to us.

And I think that people should be encouraged to report their cases to the police. The police stations are there for all of us.

Q: As a citizen or foreigner living in Nigeria, do I need to know anybody in EFCC before I can report a matter and get the required attention?

A: Absolutely not. We actually discourage people from coming here. We do not have to know who you are before we take your matter. What you do is come, submit your petition and go. The merit of your petition will determine whether EFCC will handle your matter or not.

Q: How do you ensure the safety of your men in such volatile situations as was the case recently in Jos, Plateau State when operatives were manhandled by agents of the governor, Mr. Joshua Dariye?

A: We deal with situations as they come.

In the Plateau situation, when the men got there, they went to inform the Police command in the State of their presence and mission. The Commissioner of Police gave them additional men to give them protection. I think we should commend the composure of our men. They were armed and anything could have happened.

If they had tried to defend themselves with the arms we would have been talking about a different situation. A lot of lives would have been lost. It requires a lot of maturity on the part of an armed person to be assaulted and then refuse to use the arms he or she is bearing. Our men suffered physical injuries. One of them had to be hospitalized at the Jos University Teaching Hospital. Four others were treated for various degrees of injuries. If we were lawless as the governor was on that day, it would have been an entirely different story.

Q: Are you frustrated by the outcome of the operation in Plateau State?

I am not frustrated at all. We are doingwhat we are supposed to do, we are taking steps that we feel is just and right according to the provisions of the law and we know that justice will prevail. It may not happen today or tomorrow but ultimately it would be done.

•Lamorde is EFCC’s Director of Operations

EFCC Operations
By The ZT Team

The epicenter of EFCC operations is undoubtedly Lagos, the financial capital of Nigeria which also accounts for more than 80 percent of cases handled by the Commission. The Commission maintains two offices in the city. Both are located in Ikoyi. The main office at 15A Awolowo Road occupies a three storey building which houses all the major units of the commission. Some of the departments that can be found at Awolowo Road include operations, administration, finance and accounts, legal, works, media and transportation.

Until mid last year, the expansive premises of the Awolowo Road office equally served as garage for most of the exotic cars impounded from financial crimes suspects. But a temporary car park was secured recently at the former CVU premises, Ikoyi, Lagos.

The other Ikoyi office of the agency is located at 7, Okotie- Eboh Street. The one storey colonial-style building used to be the operational base of the defunct Presidential Committee on Financial Crimes. Unlike Awolowo Road which has a full complement of EFCC staff, only officials in operations, specifically the Bank Fraud Unit headed by Mr. Mohammed Wakili, CSP can be found at the Okotie-Eboh office. Behind the main building at Okotie-Eboh are two structures which serve as temporary detention facilities for awaiting trial suspects.

The head of Lagos operations is the Director of operations, Mr. Ibrahim Lamorde, an assistant commissioner of police. He oversees both the investigation and administrative functions of the commission. What this means is that both operatives and heads of supportive units report directly to him.

However the core of activities at the Lagos office is the operations department. The section is saddled with the responsibility of investigating all cases of economic and financial crime not only in Lagos but through out the federation. Officers of the department are organized into sections, with each section assigned the responsibility of dealing with specific area of economic or financial crime. These are Advance Fee Fraud, Bank Fraud, Economic Governance and General Investigation.

Each section is headed by an officer of the rank of Chief Superintendent of Police, CSP. The size of each section varies depending on the amount of cases generated. Members of particular section report to the sectional head who, in turn report to the director of operations who is answerable to the Executive Chairman, Mallam Nuhu Ribadu.

The Advance Fee Fraud, AFF unit is headed by Mr. Olaolu Adegbite, SP. He supervises ten sub teams within the unit. The Economic Governance unit has Mr. Ibrahim Magu, CSP as team leader. Mr. Mohammed Wakili, CSP heads the Bank Fraud unit while Mr. Umar Sanda, CSP is in charge of General Investigation unit, which also have Mr. Ayo Ajala, CSP leading a sub unit.

Between these teams revolve the arduous task of investigating the armada of cases reported to the Commission. The sectional heads provide insight into the activities if their respective units.

According to Adegbite, “In AFF, we investigate advance fee fraud cases, cyber crime related cases, credit card scams, local 419 and several others”. He explained that over 370 cases, mostly from foreign victims are being handled by the unit. Most of these cases are still under investigation. Several are with the legal department, some are before the courts. “And by the grace of God we are getting convictions.”

“The major challenge that we are facing right now is the mindset of suspects. We are dealing with adaptive adversaries. As soon as we are devising new methods and they are aware that this is our modus operandi; they adapt and create new strategies”, he said.

On his part, Sanda says General Investigation handle matters that are outside the purview of advance fee fraud, bank fraud and economic governance. So far over 100 cases are at different stages of investigation by the unit. “But the most prominent case that we have handled is the Amaka Anajemba and Emmanuel Nwude case in which a Brazilian bank was duped of $242 million. I am pleased to say that we have secured conviction on this case.

The accused recently pleaded guilty to charges of obtaining under false pretence and were sentenced to various terms of imprisonment,” he said.

In the same vein, Magu informs that EG is in the vanguard of ensuring greater transparency in public contracting and procurement processes. “Mostly we deal with public corruption cases and contract scams; particularly government contracts to ensure due process is followed and determine that contractors actually performed for payment received. We have handled many cases. We handled the Joshua Dariye, the Fabian Osuji and Adolphus Wabara case. We investigated the Tafa Balogun case,” he said.

The Bank Fraud Unit under the supervision of Waikili is responsible for the investigation of cases of fraud and money laundering in the banking sector. To this unit can be ascribed the success which the Commission has recorded in the investigation of fraud and insider abuse of all dimension in the banking industry. The unit’s effort is complemented by those of officers seconded to the Commission by the Central Bank of Nigeria,CBN, the Security and Exchange Commission, SEC and the Nigeria Deposit Insurance Corporation, NDIC.The expertise of these adjunct staff have been invaluable to the commission’s assignment.

A new unit is being created from the Bank Fraud Unit to deal with capital market fraud, especially equity scams.

At the moment the units are barely able to cope with the deluge of cases, owing largely to resource constraints. A common complaint by the unit head is the dearth of manpower. This is not unexpected given that the commission is only three years old. However with the recent integration of 117 trained cadets from the Commission’s training school into the system respite may have come. Each of the units has sub teams that are also headed by officers of the rank of SP or below.

Abuja Operations

The Operations Unit in Abuja is always a beehive of activities. Commonly referred to as the ‘villa’, the unit operates from a 2-wing storey building located at No.2 Ibrahim Taiwo Street, Aso Villa, Abuja. Mallam Bala Ciroma, Chief Superintendent of Police, CSP, heads the unit. He reports directly to the Director of Operations who is based in Lagos. The organizational and operations structure of the unit is a replica of the Lagos Operations.

The unit is organized into four broad sections: Bank Fraud, Advance Fee Fraud, Economic Governance and General Investigation. The sections are further broken into teams, each supervised by a team leader. The Bank Fraud Unit handles banking and related financial crimes, while the Advance Fee Fraud Unit has responsibility for the investigation of 419 scams, internet fraud and cyber crimes. The Economic Governance Unit deal mostly with cases of fraud in government establishments, while General Investigation concerns itself with sundry investigations, including matters that fall within the competence of the other units but which, perhaps due to their loaded schedule, they are not able to handle.

Speaking on their mode of operation, Ciroma explained that petitions are usually referred to the unit by the Executive Chairman. And for administrative convenience matters that are frequently handled by the unit are the ones emanating from Abuja and the neighbouring states. On receiving the petitions, investigation machineries are set in motion with cases assigned to specific teams. The outcome of an investigation is distilled into a report that is then forwarded to the Executive Chairman and the Director of Operations for recommendation and advice.

Considering the number of petitions that are received daily at the Commission’s headquarters, it is a mystery how the Operations Unit is able to cope. Ciroma says this was a challenge at the onset but assured that the pressure had eased with the coming on board of the cadet officers. Nevertheless, he recalled that the unit at inception had to grapple with serious problem of logistics, including the lack of operation vehicles and inadequate office space. Added to this was the difficulty in accessing information in government establishments. However, he was quick to point out that the problem of access had eased especially with the realization that withholding information from the Commission was a serious offence under the EFCC Act.

Ciroma declared that in spite of the initial constraints the unit has handled 335 cases since inception. Currently, over 100 cases are in court while a number of convictions have been recorded.

Port Harcourt Operations

Every office of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC is considered strategic to the overall objective of the commission, which is to combat economic and financial crime. The zonal office in Port Harcourt, Rivers state is one of such office. Since it was opened about one and half years ago, it has managed to attract a level of attention that belies its size. Available records indicate that over 300 cases were reported which resulted in 252 arrests and over a dozen convictions.

The zonal office is located in serene old GRA, Port Harcourt at No.6A, Olumeni Street, off Forces Avenue. For a first time visitor, locating the office might be a little difficult. From Olumeni Street, it takes about two minutes walk through a snaky driveway to link the office. The short walk takes the visitor through two major gates all of which gives the office a secured ambience. A huge black gate finally admits the visitor into the premises. Beside the gate is the quarter-guard which the contingent of mobile policemen attached to the commission use as office. The not-too- expansive compound is fenced in by a high wall secured with security wire. The compound is neat and well paved with interlocking stones.

Unfortunately the compound is almost taken over by exotic cars, most of them Sports Utility Vehicles impounded from suspected fraudsters. Directly facing the entrance is the onestorey white edifice which houses all the units and offices in Port Harcourt. Though not imposing, the building is inviting and very functional. The offices boast of decent but simple furnishing and equipment. The combination of grey coloured window blinds and white coated walls give the offices a pleasurable aura of comfort.

To the left of the main building is a cell constructed recently to house suspects who hitherto were kept in police custody. The well-secured facility boasts of vital conveniences such as bathroom and toilet. It is equally well ventilated, with a number of wall fans to complement the natural ventilation.

Indeed the decision to open the office in the first instance was premised on the volume of very important cases emanating from the zone as well as a felt need to protect the nation’s vital economic interest in the area. Of course, the Niger Delta region is the heart of the country’s oil industry which is the bulwark of the nation’s economy. It is also not a coincidence that the region accounts for most incidences of crude oil theft which is known in local parlance as illegal bunkering as well as vandalism of oil pipelines.

The office ensures regular patrols and security surveillance of pipelines and other oil installations, which have brought about a marked drop in the incidence of destruction of pipelines. The reduction is a major respite to the economy which had suffered so much in the hands of vandals.

The saving to the nation’s economy arising from the commission’s activities is difficult to quantify. But suffice it to say that as at August, 2005 the office had recovered and released over a billion naira to various complainants. But beyond the cash recoveries, the commission’s presence in the region has become a major deterrence to criminals who hitherto operated with impunity. “The strategy is not only to apprehend but to prevent the vandalizm and destruction of properties that would cost millions of dollars to replace. This has saved billions of naira for the federal government.

All this, the commission has been able to achieve through a collaborative strategy involving other security agencies and stakeholders in the oil industry. One of such platforms is the security forum that enables the sharing of intelligence information between the commission and representatives of the Nigerian Navy, the Nigerian Army, as well as officials of Shell Petroleum Development Company, SPDC. Such collaboration is imperative in view of the increasing sophistication of the crime of bunkering, terrorism and the difficult environment which requires the specialized skills of all the security agencies for effective law enforcement.

Two major challenges which the office faces in policing the economic region of the Niger Delta are the dearth of relevant equipment and insufficient manpower, both of which are already being addressed.

In the face of the daunting challenges what this EFCC operations outpost, and indeed all of EFCC have going for it, is the ‘can do’ spirit of the operatives.

STRUCTURE

The began as a special duties centre and operated as such until recently when formal administrative and operations structure are being installed. Operatives in the zone are organized into teams cloned after the Lagos operations, with each assigned a special branch of investigation which makes for specialization. There are five such teams. Team ‘A’ is the anti-fraud group, while Team ‘B’ deals with economic
governance. Team ‘C’ is in charge of bank fraud, while Team ‘D’ covers general investigation. Team ‘E’ has responsibility for cases bordering on economic sabotage and related offences.

At the helm of the zonal operations, is the director of operations, Mr. Ibrahim Lamorde. All team leaders report to him.

Outside of operations and transportation, the other units of the commission are not fully represented in the Port Harcourt office. The other
exception is the administration department which has one staff on ground in the zone. The absence of both the legal and accounts departments in the zone, for a long time was a major handicap as operatives had to regularly send case files to Abuja for legal advice.

This was a major clog for expeditious arraignment of suspects. However respite appears to have come as the legal unit is now fully represented in the Port Harcourt office.

 

NM COMMENTARY

 

We hope that Lamorde will hold to his words and his integrity, now matter how brief or long his tenure is.

 

NM

 


 

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5 Responses to “FROM THE ARCHIVES: Ibrahim Lamorde (new Acting EFCC Chairman) In His Own Words (2006) – With Section on "EFCC Operations"”

  1. Dominic says:

    This guy is very articulate and intelligent. Let us hope he can continue Ribadu’s work, and have the courage to make the EFCC even stronger. In the meanwhile, Dimeji and his people should, as a matter of urgency, table new legislation granting independence, from political interference, for the EFCC. The EFCC-ICPC merger should be killed. It serves no purpose. With the level of corruption in the land, putting all eggs in one basket is not an option, and since the merger is being driven by the Andooaka’s of Nigeria, one can automatically presume that it is a smokescreen for something more sinister.

  2. HYCINTH says:

    i believe sp much in Rebadu’s work and operations, i still don’t understand somehow is out on……….

  3. HYCINTH says:

    i pray this new guy can do even better.

  4. Tiger Lily says:

    I would just like to know how I can personally contact Mr. Lamorde by email???

  5. WANDA says:

    I WOULD LIKE TO CONTACT MR. LAMORDE BY EMAIL. I HAVE BEEN VICTIM OF FRAUD. HOW COULD I GET IN CONTACT WITH HIM?

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