ABUJA — Chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, Mr. Ibrahim Lamorde, has disclosed that the rampant corruption in the Nigerian society may have permeated the supposed iron curtains of anti-corruption agencies, including the commission he heads.
Lamorde, who made the disclosure, yesterday, at a two-day Public-Private Sector Workshop on Corruption, organised by the United Nations Global Compact, UNGC, and the Nigeria Economic Summit Group, NESG, in Abuja, expressed dismay that the commission had succumbed to the “determination of grand patrons of corruption to foist their nefarious ways of life on the rest of us.”
EFCC's new helmsman: Ibrahim Lamorde.
He noted: “By the time I returned to the EFCC at the instance of the President, I was profoundly shocked to find that many of those I was supposed to send out to carry out the Commission’s mandate on certain individuals were themselves enmeshed in corruption.
“The patriotism and even idealism of 2003 (when the EFCC was established) had succumbed to the unrelenting onslaught of corruption; an undue dose of atavistic acquisitiveness and other personal interests had been injected into the war that it was inevitable for the anti-corruption effort to flounder so noticeably
“EFCC had to do some introspection and we realised that we could ill-afford to raise a finger against the behemoth of corruption if we did not first put our house in order.
“We needed to tell ourselves the bitter truth, which is that the corruption we had been set up to fight, amongst other economic and financial crimes, had permeated the very fabric of the EFCC!
“I was roundly shocked to discover that the EFCC of today was not the one we worked so hard to build nine years ago. I had on my hands, a totally strange organisation, one whose operatives responded to a stimulus other than that of patriotic call to service.”
The EFCC boss said he realised that he needed to “clean up” the system, and had since started on that, adding: “Today, we have created an Internal Affairs unit to give teeth within the EFCC, and we have taken immediate remedial action to name and shame.”
Lie detector tests
Lamorde explained that in the last four months, the Commission had been “quietly invoking Section 7 (1) (b) on ourselves. The lifestyle and property of certain key officers are being probed. So far, four of them have lost the privilege to belong to the EFCC family and are answering questions in courts across the nation.
“We are also undertaking as part of EFCC’s ethical re-awakening, to subject ourselves to lie detector tests two or three times every year. I would also take part in the polygraph tests.”
The EFCC head remarked that his goal was to build an anti-corruption agency that could compare to any other in any part of the world, in professionalism and conduct, adding: “Nigerians do not deserve anything less and in truth they do not deserve anything less
According to him, “unfortunately, many in our country still see corruption as a uniquely Nigerian way of life. In truth, in any society, the corruption industry is an all-pervasive one with tentacles in virtually all sectors.
“What makes an individual, group or society itself to stand out, is the determination not to be overwhelmed by the burden of corruption, but to actively and conscientiously work towards its eradication or, at least, significant reduction.”
Lamorde pointed out that the fact that the workshop was co-sponsored by Siemens showed that any organisation could re-invent itself for public good.
“In the recent past, the company had gone beyond the strict parameters of international business practice and strayed into the murky waters of unethical business practices and had gotten itself into a huge mess,” he stated.
He explained that in a bid to position itself as the company of choice in its area of expertise, “Siemens decided to engage in what it must have thought was ‘standard’ Nigerian business practice. As it turned out, the precedent that informed the company’s decision was fast being jettisoned. It was unfortunately caught with both hands elbow-deep in the soup pot and consequently shamed and severely punished for its corporate misdemeanours.”
He added that, “for anybody, whether individual or corporate, to move from one extreme of indiscretion and malfeasance to the other end of genuine soul-searching is something worthy of commendation and emulation.”
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