The Federal Government has set up a presidential committee to investigate high-profile corruption cases allegedly compromised by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission.
The committee, which is under the office of the Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Mr. Abubakar Malami, is broadly named Presidential Committee on Verification of Assets.
Our correspondent learnt that the committee, which had yet to be inaugurated as of Tuesday, had been split into three sub committees.
One of the subcommittees is primarily charged with the verification of looted assets recovered by the EFCC while another subcommittee will have similar focus on recovered loot by the Independent Corrupt Practices and other related offences Commission.
The third subcommittee, according to a source in the Federal Ministry of Justice, will probe the alleged fraud in the nation’s pension scheme.
A document obtained from a source in the ministry on Tuesday by our correspondent shows that in addition to verifying recovered assets, one of the subcommittees will probe petitions alleging corruption against individuals and organisations whose cases were either compromised by the EFCC or not investigated at all.
The tasks of the subcommittees, according to the document, are, “To identify all parties that engaged in conspiratorial fraudulent activities at EFCC that led to financial loss to the FGN;
“To analyse petitions submitted to the EFCC against persons and organisations in billions of naira that were not investigated or investigated and compromised by the EFCC hence caused collateral economic loss to the FGN;
“To analyse all cases the EFCC took over from other agencies or investigated with other agencies, and report the actual and collateral loss to the FGN;
“To assess the EFCC’s standing procedure on seizures, forfeitures, management of seized properties, remittances etc;
“To verify all assets seized by the EFCC and/or forfeited by criminal suspects to the EFCC onshore and offshore;
“To verify all remittances by the EFCC to the FGN;
“To reconcile assets seized and/or forfeited vis-a-vis assets remitted to the FGN;
“To identify and audit all bank accounts opened by the EFCC and all bank accounts seized from criminal suspects onshore and offshore from inception to date, among others.”
Malami had, in his address during his maiden press conference on November 19, 2015 in Abuja, given a hint about the activities of the asset verification committee when he said suspected compromise in investigation of high-profile cases would be probed.
The minister had said his administration would undertake an audit of high-profile corruption cases “so that those who are found wanting through the compromise of investigation and prosecution processes shall be prosecuted”.
Other major tasks given to the committee include “to report the total balance of tangible and intangible assets remittable from EFCC to FGN; and
“To engage forensic accountants, auditors, lawyers, professionals etc. to assist in analysing and reconciling all financial records, procuring vital records etc.”
Malami had, in an exclusive interview with The PUNCH in January, said the petition, accusing the immediate past Chairman of the EFCC, Mr. Ibrahim Lamorde, of diverting about N1tn seized by the anti-graft agency from corruption convicts, would not be overlooked.
He had said in a telephone interview with our correspondent that investigation into the allegation required time.
The AGF said no petition, as long as it bordered on corruption, would be overlooked.
He said, “It is just a matter of a little patience over issues; as you know, investigation takes a lot of consideration, a lot of revelation, but whatever it is, as long as the petition relates to corruption, it cannot be overlooked.
“Whatever is presented by a way of petition will not be overlooked, and at the end of the day, appropriate step shall be taken. There is nothing that can be overlooked. Whatever is presented shall be looked into.”
Before Malami was appointed the AGF, the Federal Ministry of Justice had directed the EFCC to investigate the allegations that Lamorde diverted about N1tn proceeds of corruption recovered by the anti-graft agency.
The ministry’s directive followed a September 18, 2015 petition to the then Solicitor-General and Permanent Secretary, Federal Ministry of Justice, Mr. Abdullahi Yola.
The petitioner, who is the Chief Executive Officer of Panic Alert Security Systems, a security firm, George Uboh, had sent a reminder, dated September 28, to Yola, threatening to sue the ministry if he failed to respond to his petition within seven days.
Uboh had, in his petition, asked the justice ministry “through which the EFCC derives its power to prosecute, to immediately rescind the fiat to prosecute criminal suspects from EFCC.”
He also sought an immediate issuance of “fiat for the prosecution of EFCC’s past and present leadership and their known and unknown co-conspirators via the 22-page preliminary criminal charges the undersigned has prepared.”
Uboh, who had earlier petitioned the Senate Committee on Ethics, Privileges and Public Petitions, levelling the same set of allegations against Lamorde, had received the ministry’s letter, dated October 8, 2015.
The letter was signed by the Director, Public Prosecutions of the Federal Ministry of Justice, Mr. Muhammad Diri, on behalf of the Permanent Secretary.
Copies of the letter were made available to journalists in Abuja on Tuesday.
It indicated that Yola had directed the EFCC to investigate the allegations against Lamorde and to forward the result of its investigation to him “as soon as it is completed”.
Also, an operative of the EFCC, Abdulrahman Biu, a Deputy Detective Superintendent, was arrested for offences bordering on extortion, influence peddling and impersonation in January.
Biu was arrested following intelligence report alleging that he extorted $150,000 from some military officers on the pretext that he would help give them a soft landing in the ongoing investigation into the arms deal scandal.
Upon his arrest, a search was executed on his residence in Abuja where the following items were recovered: $20,000 cash, N500,000 cash, two police uniforms bearing his name with the ranks of Deputy Superintendent and Assistant Superintendent of Police, Police warrant card No: 27/2014 with the rank of DSP, allegedly obtained from Kano Constabulary Office, documents relating to military arms investigation and account information of several senior military officers.