The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, notes with dismay, the views attributed to Mallam Garba Shehu, Director, Media and Publicity, of the Muhammadu Buhari Campaign Organisation, accusing the leadership of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, of alleged corruption and insensitivity to staff welfare.
Garba who spoke to journalists in Abuja yesterday claimed President Goodluck Jonathan has reduced the EFCC to a toothless bulldog which could not even bark.
It is regrettable that Shehu, a spokesperson of a leading Presidential candidate with call the media to disparage a national agency that epitomize the nation’s fight against corruption.
Were his views based on facts, it would not have been disturbing. The tragedy is that Shehu choose to amplify gossips, garnished with outright fabrication, to score cheap political points. The charges are particularly galling against the well-advertised commitment of the EFCC not to be dragged into the political fray ahead of the general elections.
If Shehu has issues with the fight against corruption under President Jonathan, there are other ways of selling his party to the electorate rather than maligning the EFCC.
For the avoidance of doubt, there is no truth whatsoever in the claim by Shehu that, the “EFCC Chairman is accused by staff of corruption. The Commission staff is also being owed salaries and entitlements, having not been paid for three months”.
The EFCC is alarmed by this claim. The chairman of the Commission is respected in the law enforcement circles for his integrity and professionalism. He values his reputation which he built over the years and, it will be a great disservice to seek to rubbish him on the altar of politics. There is no evidence of corruption, either in the past or present, against the EFCC chair.
Furthermore, the claim that staff of the EFCC are being owed three months salaries is the figment of Shehu’s imagination. In the eleven years of its existence as an organisation, the EFCC has never defaulted in meeting its monthly obligations to staff. Who are the EFCC staff being owed salaries? We challenge Shehu to name names.
Shehu also makes an issue of the conviction record of the EFCC. At a time when the rest of the world is commending the agency for recording 126 convictions in 2014, Shehu elected to dampen its morale with a disclaimer that is not based on fact. His claim that the EFCC has not recorded a single high profile conviction under President Jonathan is mischief taken too far. Only those who are not living in Nigeria will believe such hogwash.
As spokesperson to the respected General, Shehu must be careful not to mask his personal views as those of General Buhari or the APC. We find it hard to believe that the views expressed by Shehu are those of Buhari or the All Progressives Congress.
For those who care to know, Shehu has over the years nursed a grudge against the EFCC and takes every available opportunity to attack the Commission. Yesterday’s briefing is not the first such attack by Shehu on the EFCC. Will it be the last?
Evidently, Shehu has been scavenging for information to tar the EFCC. How else will one respond to his allusion to turmoil in the EFCC? Were he not up to mischief, he ought to be discerning enough to cross check information mopped from the gutter press before elevating them to the pedestal of truth. Obviously what emerged as turmoil to Shehu is the gossip in online media about a supposed rift between the EFCC chair, Lamorde and the Secretary to the Commission, Emmanuel Adegboyega Aremo. The EFCC has refused to respond to the gossips because they are unfounded.
But the Commission is constrained to respond in the interest of members of the public who may have been misled into believing the inanities and outright fabrications as representation of the state of affair in the EFCC. More importantly, this rebuttal is intended to forestall the objective of the authors of the satanic article which is to create disaffection among the staff and management of the Commission and distract it from its primary mandate of fighting corruption, especially at this delicate moment in the political life of our nation.
For the avoidance of doubt, there is no truth whatsoever in the allusion to imaginary rift between the two most senior officers of the agency: the Executive Chairman, Ibrahim Lamorde and the Secretary to the Commission, Emmanuel Adegboyega Aremo.
Both officers enjoy harmonious working relationship which is reflected in the commendable performance of the Commission in recent time. They also have no marked differences in terms of the direction and vision of the agency. Those who seek to drive a wedge between them have ulterior motives that are far from altruistic.
The attempt to dress Aremo in the borrowed garb of chief advocate for employee interest and Lamorde as a taskmaster who is insensitive to staff welfare is uncharitable.
According to the authors of the article, “The EFCC Secretary has been battling the Management of the Commission, especially the Executive Chairman and the Director of Finance and Account on issues of unpaid allowances and welfare. The Secretary, Mr. Aremo Emmanuel Adegboyega has refused going with them for Budget defence, arguing that until the Management pay staff their allowances. So they thought he was in need of money, they now credited his account with his own 25 percent of the allowance.”
This is complete bunkum. Aremo was present at the budget defence before both chambers of the National Assembly. Indeed, when the Commission appeared before the Senate Committee on Drugs, Financial Crimes and Anticorruption, Lamorde invited him to respond to a question that a member of the Committee asked on the matter of appeal against the injunction secured by a former governor of River State, that has more or less conferred on him immunity from investigation. Does this convey the situation of a man who was so nonplussed about employees’ mistreatment that he revolted by refusing to join the budget defence team?
Again, though the Commission is proud of Aremo’s pedigree as a lawyer, it will be immodest to accept the title of Senior Advocate of Nigeria, SAN, which the hack writer awarded the Secretary to the Commission. He is not a senior advocate and will wait to earn his stripes in God’s appointed time.
The lie about him being an SAN, invariably exposes as another lie, the claim that he publicly exclaimed that he had been so comfortable as a senior advocate to be bought over by a sudden payment of 25 percent allowance into his account. What was the “allowance” meant for, that Aremo supposedly asked them to come and take away their money?
The narration is so infantile that it exposes the state of mind of the author. It is inconceivable that an occupant of the exalted office of Secretary to the Commission will use the indecorous language ascribed to Aremo in the article. He was said to have been so nonplussed about the so called 25 percent payment that he said, “they should come and remove their money from his account”. Haba! In any case, it serves no use to dwell on this hogwash as there was no such payment in the first place.
Any reasonable employee of the EFCC knows that in this era of electronic payment where public sector accounting is done under the GIFMIS platform, it is not possible to pay slush allowance or any money for that matter to any staff, person or organisation without justification.
Obviously, the allusion to 25 percent allowance payment to Aremo is to further demonize Lamorde as attempting to bribe Aremo into acquiescence in his supposed vigorous activism for workers’ interest. In plain language, it was a bribe to keep Aremo silent!
This is the height of mischief, intended to incite staff of the agency to mutiny over imaginary allowances thought to be deliberately withheld by management. No such exist. Indeed it is ludicrous that anyone would be clamouring for some fat allowances in this era of dwindling resources, when many agencies of government are battling to pay staff salaries.
Any staff who wants to be fair to Lamorde would acknowledge the efforts he has made to improve staff welfare since he took the reins. Apart from maintaining the existing allowances in the consolidated salary structure of the Commission, he has introduced staff canteens in most of the offices of the Commission where employees eat decent but subsidized meals.
A housing scheme is also being implemented that offers employees the opportunity to own houses and pay over a specified period. Staff buses are also servicing some routes in the FCT, easing transportation of staff to and from the office. He also organized the first awards and rewards ceremony to celebrate staff in Commission’s history.
These are hardly the imprimatur of a task master!
The claims of insubordination to, or is it usurpation of the powers of the Secretary to the Commission by a so-called female Head of Human Resources, is not only fictional but exposes the ignorance of the authors about administrative procedures in the Commission. The EFCC is not an arbitrary organisation as there are established rules and procedures governing its operations, and these include the recruitment, discipline and promotion of staff.
These rules which are not the creation of Lamorde, are clearly enunciated in the Staff Regulations and communicated to every staff of the Commission at the point of entry. The Human Resource Unit also regularly amplifies these rules through memos.
Every staff of the Commission knows the consequences of failing confirmation or promotion examinations after the prescribed attempts. If staff take promotion examination, it is the duty of the Head Human Resources to collate the result for management. So what is the crime in performing this duty?
But, decision regarding appointment, promotion and discipline of staff is handled by an Appointment, Promotion and Discipline Committee which is headed by the Secretary to the Commission, drawing membership from the cadre of Directors of the Commission. So it is inconceivable that the Head of Human Resources will override the Committee.
There is no evidence of such and we challenge the authors of this fiction to produce the evidence. There is also no evidence of the Commission violating the Federal Character principle in its recruitment. All recruitment by the EFCC is subjected to clearance by the Federal Character Commission. If any state has overshot its quota the Commission in better placed to determine that and so far there is no evidence that the EFCC under Lamorde has been accused of not reflecting this principle of national spread in the recruitment that have taken place in the last few years.
Nevertheless, it is important to state here that the Commission will not bend the rule to accommodate staff who fall below the approved minimum standards and the resort to blackmail will not help such cases, if there are.
The fixation about police officers making money in EFCC tended to portray the Commission as a money spinning agency where people get rich quick. If that were the case, why will any staff complain about allowance or welfare? We all should be “making millions” too. The truth is that the EFCC operates a zero tolerance for corruption and officers who compromise in the course of the duties regardless of whether they are regular or seconded staff are subjected to the disciplinary process.
Indeed, Lamorde, created a Department of Internal Affairs that polices staff of the agency to ensure they uphold the Commission’s core values of integrity and professionalism. Those who have fallen short have been dealt with. In doing this the Commission applies the same rule. There are no two set of rules for EFCC staff.