By Elor Nkereuwem:

There is a lot of confusion within Nigeria’s anti graft agency, the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), with accusations and counter accusations of corruption being flung among senior operatives, following the recent recall of some police officers from the agency.

Farida Waziri

EFCC chairman, Farida Waziri Photo: NEXT

Federal authorities this weekend ordered the redeployment of the senior police officers, whose ranks range from Superintendent of Police (SP) to Assistant Commissioner of Police (ACP).

Key officers

Unconfirmed reports reveal that some of the redeployed officers include Mohammed Babakura, head of the chairman’s monitoring unit; Stephen Otitojun, acting director of operations; Umar Sandar, head of the economic governance unit; and Lanre Jimoh Oloye, also of the economic governance unit. These men all head the units of key EFCC operations.

Mr. Babakura’s unit is charged with the duty of investigating high profile white collar crimes and is the arrow head of financial crimes investigations. The economic governance unit is the unit with a remit to investigate grand corruption in government circles as well as monitor Politically Exposed Persons.

Sources reveal that no reasons have been offered for the redeployments, but it is claimed that some of the officers have spent at least three years in the commission and it has become necessary for them to be re-posted.

Interestingly, while the Nigerian Police has confirmed this move, the EFCC has denied any knowledge of the redeployment.

Emmanuel Ojukwu, the police’s spokesman, confirmed that senior police officers have been recalled from the EFCC, but said it is nothing unusual. “Yes, it is a routine redeployment of officers, which falls under the purview of the Inspector General of Police’s responsibilities,” Mr. Ojukwu said to NEXT in Abuja yesterday.

The spokesman of the EFCC, Femi Babafemi, however said he knows nothing of the action.

“That, I cannot confirm. If there is anything like that, I am not aware,” Mr. Babafemi said.

Mr. Babakura, one of the operatives said to be redeployed, also said to NEXT that he was not aware of his redeployment.

Leaving Farida Waziri bare

The line up of the senior operatives who have been moved, sources say, are close friends and confidants of the EFCC chairman, Farida Waziri.

It is also said that this may be an indication of the new anti-corruption bid by the acting president, Goodluck Jonathan, who, some sources revealed, has on at least one occasion chided the EFCC boss over the perceived laxity in the fight against corruption in the country.

Within the EFCC, there are also allegations of corruption against both the agency’s boss and some of the officials that have just been redeployed. Sources also revealed that, last week, the EFCC received a petition concerning Mr. Babakura in relation to a N100million bribery allegation.

However, both Mr. Babakura and the EFCC spokesman dismissed this report.

“That is not true. There is absolutely nothing like that,” Mr. Babafemi said. “All these are stories being peddled by suspects that the commission is investigating and we have already alerted the media about this.”

Mr. Babakura concurred with the spokesperson, dismissing further reports that he had been arrested due to the petition.

“I was never arrested by the police. I’m shocked that this rumour has been going on,” he said, adding that his unit had recently flushed out a wayward operative under the direction of the EFCC boss.

The taint of bribery

But Mr. Babakura is not the only EFCC official who has been tainted with bribery allegations. Victor Uwajeh, whom the EFCC has confirmed was temporarily employed by it, has now been accused of attempting to extort about $2million from a suspect, Cecilia Ibru.

Sources also told NEXT that, in 2009, Mr. Oloye of the Economic Governance Unit, alongside a lady operative, were mentioned in an N18 million bribery case.

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