The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission has announced the removal and subsequent redeployment of the head of its powerful intelligence unit known as the Nigerian Financial Intelligence Unit, NFIU.
A statement by the commission’s spokesperson, Wilson Uwujaren, on Thursday night, said Juliet Ibebaku has been re-deployed to the legal directorate of the agency while Francis Usani, formerly of the legal directorate, has been named her replacement.
Mr. Usani, who was appointed in acting capacity, is a veteran prosecutor and seasoned lawyer, having been part of the prosecution team that has prosecuted money laundering and other grand corruption cases.
Ms Ibekaku, who previously served in the External Cooperation Unit and the commission’s Training and Research Institute (now EFCC Academy) before her redeployment to the NFIU, has since resumed at her new duty post, the statement said.
Although Mr. Uwujaren said the former NFIU’s boss removal was part of the EFCC’s routine administrative activity of moving its staff around, PREMIUM TIMES authoritatively learnt that Ms. Ibekaku was redeployed after investigators and other top officials of the agency accused her of “inefficiency and non-cooperative attitude”.
“She has of recent become clearly cantankerous,” a senior NFIU official told PREMIUM TIMES. “She has a temper and has been fighting with everybody. She is not on speaking terms with key staff and our work has been suffering.”
The staff, who asked not to be named because he was authorized to speak on the matter, said the EFCC management also suspected that Ms. Ibekaku had been using the sensitive information at her disposal to advance her political interest.
“I’m aware that management has been complaining for long that she has been doing certain things to undermine the EFCC.”
PREMIUM TIMES learnt that after she was instructed to report at her new duty post in Lagos, with effect from last Monday, Ms. Ibekaku tried to resist her redeployment.
She was said to have tapped her contacts in government and security agencies to pressure, EFCC Chairman, Ibrahim Lamorde, not to remove her.
After Mr. Lamorde insisted on her redeployment, Ms. Ibekaku reportedly insisted on sitting tight in office, even after her successor had assumed duties, officials said.
She also allegedly masterminded reports in the media suggesting she was being victimised.
When she again showed up on Wednesday, the EFCC reportedly tried to scare her away by deploying extra security to the NFIU premises in the Asokoro district of Abuja.
But the EFCC quickly responded to reports of the heightened security around the complex, saying the situation at the NFIU was “far from the drama being peddled by some section of the media alleging intimidation”.
“The EFCC does not need mobile policemen to “occupy” its own premises nor does it require a riot squad to redeploy its own staff,” Mr. Uwujaren said. “The redeployment is therefore, part of the re-tooling and re -alignment process by the management of the Commission to ensure that the NFIU, which is an autonomous unit domiciled in the Commission, rises up to current challenges.
“The Commission wishes to assure that the NFIU will continue to discharge its duties in line with its mandate and in accordance with best practices.
Ms. Ibekaku could not be reached to comment for this story. She did not respond to repeated telephone calls and a text message sent to her.
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