By Omeiza Ajayi
Until September 2006 when it struck off Nigeria off its list, global anti-money laundering watchdog, the Financial Action Task Force FATF had for years listed Nigeria as one of the non-cooperative countries and territories when it comes to fighting financial crimes.
Earlier in 2003, the President Olusegun Obasanjo administration had established the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission EFCC to perform, among others, the following objectives: the enforcement and the due administration of the provisions of its enabling Act; the investigation of all financial crimes, including advance fee fraud, money laundering, counterfeiting, illegal charge transfers, futures market fraud, fraudulent encashment of negotiable instruments, credit card fraud, contract scam; the co-ordination and enforcement of all economic and financial crimes laws and enforcement functions conferred on any other person or authority.
The Commission has had four chairpersons since its establishment. They are Mallam Nuhu Ribadu, Mrs Farida Waziri, Mr Ibrahim Lamorde and Mr Ibrahim Magu.
The tenure of an EFCC Chairman is four years and is renewable, but the four persons mentioned above were removed in controversial circumstances either in their first or second tenures. It would appear that there are banana peels at the anti-graft agency.
First appointed in 2003 as the pioneer Chairman of the EFCC, Ribadu was reappointed in 2007. Having survived two assassination attempts, he was removed from office almost at the beginning of his second term. He had the misfortune of being demoted from the rank of an Assistant Inspector General AIG of Police to a Deputy Commissioner of Police DCP.
Farida Mzamber Waziri
Then came Mrs Waziri in June 2008 who was later removed in 2011 having allegedly fallen out with the then Attorney General and Minister of Justice, Mohammed Adoke. She never served out her first term.
She was accused of fraternizing with some persons of interest including a former governor of Bayelsa state and another from Edo state.
Recently, former President Goodluck Jonathan had told the media that he fired Mrs Waziri in national interest as there were both local and international pressure against her continued stay in office.
Lamorde was appointed in November 2011 to replace Mrs Waziri who had been removed a week before then.
He denied allegations of wrongdoing despite being sacked from the job in 2015.
In fact, The Cable Newspaper of November 9, 2015 reported that “One George Uboh had petitioned the Senate, alleging that Lamorde failed to remit more than N2.05 trillion, being funds recovered from corrupt leaders. He was also accused of diverting over N1 trillion recovered from the sale of confiscated properties belonging to convicted officials including the late Alamieyesiegha, and Tafa Balogun, a former Inspector-General of Police. But they remained accusations. He was not found wanting by any court.
Lamorde was sacked by President Buhari in November 2015.
Magu came on board as the poster boy of the anti-corruption efforts of the President Buhari administration.
However, he was in office in acting capacity, serving out a full tenure and beginning another still in acting capacity until he was reportedly suspended this week.
On two occasions, he was denied confirmation by the Senate on the strength of a security report by the Department of State Services DSS. The secret police was alleged to have however sent a favourable report on Magu to the Executive.
Just weeks ago, the Attorney General and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami had reportedly written a memo to President Buhari, advancing reasons Magu should be replaced.
For about five days now, Magu has been defending sundry allegations of malfeasance before the Justice Ayo Salami-led probe panel.
On July 7, reports emerged that Magu had been suspended from office.
It does appear that one sure way of having one’s integrity questioned is to accept an appointment to head the EFCC. For, it is now clear that there is a familiar pattern of removing the commission’s chairpersons in controversial circumstances. Who is next?