Exclusive: By Adenike Lucas
A former senior staff of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC claims he was dismissed after plans to nail him for “corruption failed.”
The EFCC Staff is one of the pioneer members of the anti-graft agency. He joined the organisation in its early years, adding that he had never been in trouble with his bosses before he was “wrongfully sacked.”
The dedicated EFCC staff who was accused of being a member of a confraternity, is now suing the commission for wrongful dismissal and defamation of his character at the Industrial Court in Abuja.
He claims that a Police Corporal who is an Anti-Bomb Officer led an illegal team of three, comprising of administrative officials to solicit for funds from a member of the public in an authorised operation”.
In a legal document, the dismissed EFCC senior staff said: “one cpl. officer was wearing his uniform with his name tag on it, and they were able to identify him. Yet he retained his job and I that was not even there or involved along with the admin staff got the sack.”
The Grade Level 12 Regular Operative alleges that when effort to nail him for corruption failed, he was accused of being a member of “De Norsemen Kclub,” which to him is not an ‘’out lawed” association as wrongly tagged.
The aggrieved dismissed EFCC staff says the association was founded in 1985, and registered with the Corporate Affairs Commission, CAC of Nigeria as a social charity. He says he has never denied his membership because it is not a criminal gang.
“If it was a secret club,” he says: “the CAC would not have registered us.”
According to organisations website with corporation number RC NO: 7458 the “philosophy of De Norsemen Kclub is embedded basically in its commitment to the fight against injustice which the less privileged usually suffer in the society.”
There have been repeated complaints made by regular EFCC staff like this individual over their treatment at the commission.
A source stated that when “it has to do with core EFCC staff, they sacrifice us but the same fate is not usually meted out to the policemen
“If they notice that keeping a ‘corrupt’ police officer may lead to uproar, they will just return the police officer to go and continue his or her work in their mother organisation Nigeria Police, while they dismiss the core EFCC operative,” the staff who spoke on the condition of anonymity said.
After appearing before the trial Judge (Honourable Justice Peter Odo Lifu) in July 2016, the case of the dismissed senior staff was adjourned until November 2, 2016.
He claims that the then Deputy Director of Internal Affairs, Mr Ibrahim Mustafa Magu who sat on the disciplinary panel, along others in December 2014, “refused to look into my appeal,” despite the rule book stating that an appeal could be launched two weeks after a decision is made.
Insiders say the dismissed senior EFCC staff is not the only regular cadet to have lost their job ‘unfairly’ under Mr Magu’s reign at the commission.
They say the “EFCC has been sorrowful since the removal of Mrs. Farida Waziri by former President Goodluck Jonathan in November 2011.”
According to a staff who spoke on the condition of anonymity, Mrs Waziri was “the only former EFCC chair who became concerned about the welfare of her staff, as a panacea to fight internal corruption.
“As a retired Assistant Inspector General of Police (AIG), Mrs Waziri had no stake at the Nigeria Police anymore, rather she became more focussed to liberate and make the EFCC become an Autonomous anti-graft agency.”
Most staff continue to praise the Benue state former EFCC boss. One said: “Mama had introduced various strategic policies that will enhance efficiency and effectiveness of the EFCC.”
The tenure of the current acting chair, Mr Magu and his predecessor Mr Ibrahim Lamorde has been dogged by various accounts of impunity and corruption cases.
A case of staff pension was one people remember vividly having been scammed of their savings. It is well known according to the Nigeria Pension Law, that only when a Civil Servant has reached a working years of Ten (10), and leaves service, that is when they can have access to their pension.
From sources well known, some staff approached their Pension Fund Administrators PFAs but were turned back owing to the fact that the regime of former EFCC Chair Mr Lamorde, never remitted Pensions deductions from staff salaries to PFAs.
Staff who complained in the past about Mr Magu’s desperation to be confirmed by the Senate say it is “highly unlikely” this will happen after recess because of the recent decision taken by the Attorney General and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami SAN, to rule in favour of a wife whose husband died in the custody of the EFCC.
Mr Desmond Nunugwo was arrested on the 9th of June by an operative of the EFCC for allegedly defrauding a business acquaintance of the sum of 91 million naira.
Mr Nunugwo died a few hours after he was taken into custody: His family who were granted audience in front of the chief law officer of the land believes that EFCC was responsible for his death.
Speaking to journalist after the meeting that took place with Mr Malami SAN, the family revealed that their demand for “an independent inquiry” into the death of Mr Nunugwo had been granted.
Mrs Nunuguwo who wants an apology from the EFCC for wrongly characterising her husband as a fraudster, added that “the whole world need to know the true situation of what happened,” in the death of her husband.
The chief law officer of the land is said to have assured the family “that expedient and transparent investigation would be carried out into the circumstances surrounding Mr Nunugwo’s death.
Though the police and the EFCC insist that Mr Nunugwo died a natural death, the family are yet to be convinced.
The family lawyer Paul Edeh says “until now a post mortem examination is yet to be carried out and that is the only time we ascertain how he died.”
In a recent interview with the Guardian Newspaper of Nigeria, Barrister Edeh, Principal Partner at Raw Gold Partners said: “my clients have it on good authority that the EFCC, through its chairman and his foot soldiers are working assiduously behind the scenes to frustrate police investigation into the cause of Nunugwo’s death because the truth, when revealed, will count against his confirmation as a substantive chairman of the EFCC.
On August 8, the EFCC chairman is also said to have authorised the arrest of Abubakar Sidiq Usman, a popular blogger and publisher who published an article that exposed corruption and staff bullying by Mr Magu.
Staff complained to Adenike Lucas, that the EFCC boss was panicky and blaming regular staff for his delayed confirmation.
In another chain of misdemeanour, most Core EFCC staff who subscribed for the Housing Mortgage to own their houses, were made to pay the sum of Twenty Thousand Naira N20,000 each, in order to commence processing of the Mortgage policy under Mr Lamorde.
Funny enough, they say that “till today, only few percent of EFCC staff got the houses. The rest is history, and no refund was made back to EFCC staff. No one must speak about it, even as over 80% are yet to get their money refunded nor allocated any house.
Another source who paid said: “who knows what arrangement was made by Mr Lamorde with the said Mortgage Bank. However, I have not seen any effort in any way by Mr Magu to investigate this impunity and several others.”
Others believe that Mr Lamorde “disregarded work on the EFCC HQ, since they never have ‘Institutional Interest’ on the progress of the anti-graft agency.”
Unlike Mr Lamorde, they say Mrs. Waziri – fondly called ‘Mama’ by staff, who was appointed by late President Umaru Yar’adua, initiated the land and building of the EFCC Headquaters on Airport Road Abuja, (PIX) and got it to an advanced stage before her removal.
“It was at the tenure of Mrs Waziri that families of deceased EFCC Staff were and would ever have been paid premium.”
Other efforts by ‘Mama’ were not limited to staff welfare in terms of Accommodation, Life Assurances, Manpower Training Development, Preparatory to Pensions and Gratuity of Core EFCC Staff.
They say that most of what she did to improve the lives of EFCC staff has been reported and published by Abusidiqu.com in the past.
In other to confirm the story, a call was made to Wilson Uwujaren, EFCC’s Spokesperson. He picked up but dropped the phone after discovering what the call was about.
He stopped picking his call after that.