By Oscarline Onwuemenyi
Just like the last episode in the high-stakes drama that has become the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, the man who has been chosen to replace the ousted former chairman of the anti-graft agency, Mrs. Farida Waziri, is not your average police officer.

The Acting Chairman of EFCC, Ibrahim Lamorde, the man who has been described as ‘soft-spoken with a heart of steel’ is also not a stranger to the world of graft and corruption in high places, having been a pioneer officer of the Special Fraud Unit (SFU) of the Nigeria Police, created in 1993 and served in the premier anti-419 corps of the Nigeria Police until 2002.

Lamorde, who would serve as Acting Executive Chairman of the Commission pending his confirmation or the appointment of a substantive Chairman, however, has a tall order to meet. This is especially so when one considers the achievements of his predecessors and the mounting expectations of Nigerians from the anti-corruption agency, which has in recent times been mired in controversy and heavy-handed Executive interference, facts that have left the commission reeling from blows to its body.

EFCC's new helmsman: Ibrahim Lamorde.

Indeed, it would be unfair to attempt any comparison at this stage between Lamorde and his erstwhile bosses, especially the inimitable pioneer Chairman, Nuhu Ribadu. However, it must be noted that for the most of the time Ribadu had to function as Chairman, he had people like Lamorde assisting and doing most of the ‘dirty’ jobs. Therefore, it may not be totally out of place to expect fireworks from the new acting honcho at the realm of the anti-corruption agency.

At the early days after Ribadu’s appointment as EFCC chairman, he launched a massive offensive against perpetrators of advanced free fraud, or 419, in the country. The celebrated case involving Fred Ajudua, Emmanuel Nwude and several others who had been arrested for defrauding a Brazilian bank of $242 million, was one of the earliest victories of the newly-birthed EFCC under Ribadu.

The anti-corruption agency which was yet to be fully reckoned with by many Nigerians saw the case to a logical conclusion resulting in the conviction and sentencing of the fraudsters, in spite of countless attempts to derail the case through legal chicanery, intimidation and witness abduction. Finally, Nwude, Mrs Amaka Anajemba, and Mr. Nzeribe Okoli, who pleaded guilty as charged were appropriately convicted and sentenced to numerous years in prison.

However, feelers coming from the commission have assured that with Lamorde in charge there will not be a softer line in the anti-corruption campaign. According to a highly-placed source at EFCC who has worked with Lamorde for years, “I assure there is not going to be any fundamental change of course, when you remember the closeness between the two men who have worked together for many years. They are not just from the same area, they also share similar views on the war against corruption.”

Describing Lamorde’s temperament, he stated: “The man is not given to frivolities; and from his role as former EFCC Director of Operations, where he personally oversaw the manhunt, arrest and prosecution of many suspects, including all the former governors currently being prosecuted and those who had been convicted, it is to be expected what kind of leadership he would provide for the commission.”

He added that Lamorde, who had garnered a reputation as a no-nonsense police officer would shock many Nigerians, adding that the former Chief Investigation Officer of Ermera District of East Timor of the United Nations Civilian Police, was nobody’s sucker.

“Much as people may want to see Lamorde as an extension of the former EFCC boss, he is actually his own man and the iron-fist of the commission. It is also important to note that the man has successfully overseen every operational activity of the EFCC, as Director of Operations in the past three or four years.”

Lamorde, 48, an Assistant Commissioner of Police (ACP), comes to his position as Acting Executive Chairman, EFCC, with over 20 years continuous training and experience in policing and management. He enlisted into the Nigeria Police in 1986, after obtaining a Bachelor of Science degree in Sociology in 1984 from the Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria.

He was posted to the Niger State Police Command and served between 1987 and 1988 in Minna. He was Divisional Crime Officer (DCO) in Rijau, Niger State between 1988 and 1989 and for four years (1989-1993), served as Police Public Relations Officer (PPRO) Niger State Command.

While still an officer of the SFU, he was deployed as Chief Investigation Officer of Ermera District of East Timor of the United Nations Civilian Police where he served creditably, between 2000 and 2001. He was briefly Divisional Police Officer, Ojo, Ibadan, Oyo State, and later deployed to the Force Headquarters, Abuja, from where was seconded as a pioneer officer and Director of Operations of the EFCC.

In the global pursuit of criminals, Lamorde is said to have worked effectively with other government law enforcement agencies around the world, including the FBI, Metropolitan Police, US Postal Inspection Services (USPIS), Internet Crime Complaints Centre (IC3), the Dutch Police, German Police and the South African Police, among others.

He is also a member of the Nigerian Institute of Management and Nigerian Institute of Public Relations (NIPR), and has attended several international training programmes, seminars and workshops where he delivered papers on the Nigerian fight against corruption, Advance Fee Fraud and other forms of economic and financial crimes. He also attended a Strategic Management of Regulatory and Enforcement Agencies course at the Harvard University in 2005.

All these qualifications point to the fact that the new head honcho at Nigeria’s most active anti-corruption agency surely comes prepared for the job. But how he handles the numerous investigations presently on the commission’s desk remains to be seen.

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