President Muhammadu Buhari has fired the chairman of the anti-graft agency, the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, Ibrahim Lamorde.
Mr. Lamorde, a police officer, was removed Monday, four years after he took over as chairman of the agency.
He worked earlier as the director of operations before he was appointed head by former President Goodluck Jonathan on November 23, 2011, after former chairperson, Farida Waziri, was removed.
Presidential spokesperson, Femi Adesina, told PREMIUM TIMES Mr. Lamorde “was not sacked”, but that he was only proceeding on terminal leave ahead of the expiration of his tenure in February 2016.
Mr. Adesina said more details would be provided in a statement that would be released shortly.
Beginning a terminal leave means President Buhari has refused Mr. Lamorde a second allowable term at the commission.
Mr. Adesina later issued a statement saying Mr. Buhari has approved the appointment of Ibrahim Mustafa Magu as Acting Chairman of the Commission.
Mr. Magu, an Assistant Commissioner of Police, is a member of the Presidential Advisory Committee on Anti-Corruption and was a former Head of the Economic Governance Unit (EGU) of the anti-graft agency.
Magu, the investigator
Mr. Magu was one of the early recruits into the EFCC by the pioneer chairman of the commission, Nuhu Ribadu. He is seen by peers as an incorruptible and courageous officer and then made the head of the sensitive EGU, a unit in charge of investigations of senior public officials.
As head of the EGU, some of the investigations Mr. Magu spearheaded include the role of former Kwara State Governor and serving senator, Bukola Saraki, in the collapse of Societe Generale Bank of Nigeria, and James Ibori, former Governor of Delta State, who was convicted for money laundering in the United Kingdom.
But trouble started for the police officer after the controversial removal of Mr. Ribadu as chairman of the commission in December 2007. The new chairman, Farida Waziri, was uncomfortable with his presence doubting his loyalty to her, sources say.
In August 2008, Mr. Magu was accused of illegally keeping case files of top politicians being investigated by the commission. His house in Abuja was searched and his property carted away by operatives of the EFCC acting under the directive of Mrs. Waziri.
He was subsequently re-deployed to the police after days of detention with nothing incriminating found against him. He was later suspended from the police, going without salaries for several months.
Following his appointment as Chairman of the EFCC in 2011, Mr. Lamorde made the return of Mr. Magu to the EFCC a top priority. Both men had worked together at the commission when Mr. Lamorde served as head of operations of the agency.
In a letter written to the Inspector General of Police (IGP) on March 19, 2012, and titled “Re: Postings/Transfer and secondments of police officers to the EFCC,” Mr. Lamorde put Mr. Magu as top on the list of police officers he wanted to be deployed to the EFCC.
But when the police boss was to confirm the deployment of the officers, Mr. Magu’s name was conspicuously absent.
Mr. Lamorde eventually had his way after then President Goodluck Jonathan reportedly intervened in Mr. Magu’s case.
The President, a reliable source told PREMIUM TIMES at the time, directed the police to co-operate with the EFCC by releasing any police official the commission needs to strengthen itself,” our source said.
Following the President’s intervention, Mr. Magu was released to the EFCC. He remained a top official of the commission until he was appointed to succeed Mr. Lamorde.