Thursday, November 24, 2011

How Car Gift Landed Farida in Hot Water


Mrs. Farida Waziri, former EFCC Chairman
By Ahamefula Ogbu
Wednesday’s sack of Mrs. Farida Waziri as the executive chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commis-sion (EFCC) was set in motion by a car gift, THISDAY has learnt.
Sources said the curiosity of President Goodluck Jonathan was “aroused” sometime last year when he learnt that Waziri had bought a car as gift for a top Presidency official in a desperate bid to retain her position as the nation’s anti-graft Czar.
The official in question was said to have alerted the president, who then put Waziri under watch following some other unfavourable reports on her relationship with politically exposed persons (PEPs).
But Waziri was reportedly complaining Wednesday that the president does not have the powers to remove her from office, although Jonathan was said to have relied on Section 3 (2) of the EFCC Act 2004 which states: “A member of the Commission may at any time be removed by the President for inability to discharge the functions of his office (whether arising from infirmity of mind or body or any other cause) or for misconduct or if the President is satisfied that it is not in the interest of the Commission or the interest of the public that the member should continue in office.”
A government official told THISDAY Wednesday that there were “too many damning reports against Mrs. Waziri, both locally and internationally. In fact, there are strong fears that if she steps into UK today, she will be arrested and prosecuted based on some cases that have been established against her.”
Jonathan has settled for the EFCC Director of Operations, Mr. Ibrahim Lamorde, an Assistant Commissioner of Police, as Waziri’s replacement, although in acting capacity until he is confirmed by the Senate as required by law.
“Lamorde is a tough cop and a major brain behind the successes recorded by Malam Nuhu Ribadu as EFCC chairman. He is non-partisan and focussed; what you can call a thoroughbred professional,” the source said, emphasising that the government wants to tackle security and transparency issues in order to attract the necessary investment into the country.
A recurring allegation against Waziri during her tenure was that she was “too comfortable” with politicians.
“In times past, she wrote controversial letters to British authorities to clear accused persons. In some instances, the accused persons were believed to have drafted the letters by themselves,” another government official said, attributing her removal to “a cocktail of misdeeds”.
The full text of the statement announcing changes at EFCC, signed by presidential spokesman, Dr. Reuben Abati, read: “President Goodluck Ebele Jonathan has approved the appointment of Mr. Ibrahim Lamorde as the Acting Chairman/Chief Executive of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC.
“The appointment takes immediate effect, and effectively relieves Mrs. Farida Waziri of her position as EFCC Chairman. Mrs. Waziri was appointed EFCC Chairman by Late President Umaru Musa Yar’Adua on May 18, 2008 and confirmed by the Senate on May 27, 2008.

“Mr. Lamorde, an officer of the Nigeria Police, was, until this appointment the Director of Operations of the EFCC.
He was also Ag. Chairman of the EFCC before Mrs. Waziri assumed duty at the Commission.”
US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton had said during a visit to the country two years ago that “EFCC has fallen off” under Waziri’s watch and this had created credibility problems for the commission among donor countries.