The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) has revealed that the man, Dr. George Uboh, who accused its Executive Chairman Ibrahim Lamorde of the diversion of over N1 trillion, is a suspect standing trial before Justice Sunday Aladetoyinbo of the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja High Court.
EFCC also said that Uboh, of the Panic Alert Security System, a non-governmental organization, was once convicted in the United States for credit card fraud.
The commission made this disclosure in a letter to the Senate Committee on Ethics, Privileges and Public Petitions, with reference number EFCC/EC/NA-SEN/06/62 and dated, August 24, 2015.
But as the probe commenced Wednesay, the committee walked out representatives of the EFCC led by the Director of Legal Services, Mr. Chile Okoroma.
At the commencement of hearing, the petitioner unveiled new allegations before the committee, changing from the initial figure of N1 trillion to N2.05 trillion, and another allegation that Lamorde gave some properties seized from former Bayelsa State governor, DSP Alamieyesigha and others, to Usman Lamorde, his younger brother.
The action, notwithstanding, the Senate Unity Forum declared the probe of Ibrahim Lamorde illegal as it was not backed by the extant rules of the 8th Senate.
The Senator Samuel Anyanwu-led Ethics Committee took the decision to send out Okoroma and his entourage at its first sitting to probe George Uboh’s allegation of diversion of N1 trillion corruption funds levelled against Lamorde.
Okoroma, in company with six other lawyers, including Lamorde’s lawyer, Mr. Osuagwu Ugochukwu, walked into the venue about one hour after the hearing had started.
By that time, Uboh was giving an oral submission before the committee.
The EFCC lawyer, after seeking the permission of the panel to react to the submissions by the petitioner, expressed reservations over the decision of the committee members to listen to Uboh without the representatives of the Commission in attendance.
Anyanwu asked the legal team to excuse the committee to enable it conclude with the petitioner before determining when Lamorde would be invited to respond to the allegation.
Okoroma and Ugochukwu, however, insisted.
They were then walked out even after they appeared before the panel, because the committee was silent on the EFCC letter requesting an extension of time to appear before it.
In the letter requesting extension of “about three weeks,” the EFCC said it relied on the provisions of Section 37 of the EFCC (Establishment) Act 2004.
The section states: “the commission shall, not later than the 30th of September in each year, submit to the National Assembly a report of its activities during the immediate preceding year, and shall include in such report the audited accounts of the Commission.”
In the letter to the Senate, the EFCC said: “Sir, by our understanding, the committee will like to have comprehensive information of all recovered, forfeited and/or restituted funds and property in defence of the said ‘charges’.”
The letter further explained that an internationally reputed audit firm, KPMG, was handling its accounts and shall finish reconciliations of all funds recovered, forfeited and/or restituted funds and property in defence of the charges as stipulated by law in a matter of weeks.
The letter, signed by Isa Dogonyaro, special assistant to the EFCC chairman, also noted that the petitioner was standing trial before an FCT High Court over alleged breach of trust. The suit was instituted by the EFCC.
“Also noteworthy is that a United States of America court once convicted Mr Uboh for engaging in credit card fraud. US authorities had also indicted him for dealing in narcotics,” the letter from the EFCC stated.
“In 1992, US Law enforcement agents carried out a major raid on a credit card and bank fraud ring led by George Uboh in Georgia. US prosecutors identified Mr Uboh as the ringleader of the syndicate.
“The case against Uboh and his co-conspirators was assigned docket no.92-cr-00041-GET-JRS and was listed as US v. Uboh et al. Uboh and 28 others were charged with varying degrees of felonious fraud,” the letter added.
Presently, Uboh is standing trial on a three-count charge of criminal breach of trust. The case is at the stage of defence and expected to come up on October 29 for cross-examination of the accused person, the letter added.
One of the charges pending before Justice J. Aladetoyinbo of the FCT High Court reads: “That you, George Uboh “M”, sometime in 2007 in Abuja, in the Abuja Judicial Division of the High Court, being a civil servant in the employment of the Police Equipment Foundation and in such capacity entrusted with certain property, to wit – six units of operational vehicles, did commit criminal breach of trust by selling two units of Toyota Hilux pick-up vans and thereby committed an offence punishable under Section 314 of the Penal Code.”
PDP, APC forum say exercise is illegal
Meanwhile, a group of senators of the Senate Unity Forum, in a statement jointly signed by Senators Ahmed Lawan, George Akume, Abu Ibrahim and Barnabas Gemade, said the petition should have been channelled through a member of the House of Representatives or a Senator and not through just anybody.
Explaining the proper process in the statement, the senators stated: “In standard parliamentary practice, a petition is routed through either a Senator or member of the House of Representatives. Upon the receipt of such petition, the representative will inform the presiding officer of the chamber and, thereafter, present the petition at plenary.
“Thereafter, the presiding officer will refer the matter to the appropriate committee upon which it will be returned to the Senate in plenary.
“A senator presenting a petition shall confine himself to a brief statement of the parties from whom it came, the number of signatures attached to it and the material allegations contained in it, and to reading the prayers of such petitions.
“All petitions shall be, without question being put, ordered to lie upon the table. Such petitions shall be referred to the Public Petitions Committee.”
Unity Forum senators further stated that contrary to the laid down procedure, the Senator Samuel Anywanu-led Committee on Ethics, Privileges and Public Petitions used the pages of newspapers to inform them that there would be a probe of the EFCC chairman.
The Senate Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) caucus on Monday dissociated its members from the probe, calling for it to be suspended.
Earlier, in his oral submission based on the documents before the committee, the petitioner had alleged that former Governor Diepreye Alamieyeseigha, during an interaction, told him that the amount declared by the EFCC was a far cry from what was seized from him.
He also told the committee how the incumbent governor of Bayelsa State Seriake Dickson, was allegedly intimidated by Lamorde’s EFCC to stop a legal process initiated to return the balance of the money to the Bayelsa State treasury.
He urged the committee to compel the EFCC to remit N2.051 trillion to the federal government of Nigeria, while Access Bank Plc should be compelled to bring complete statements from 2004 till date.
He also asked the Senate to invite Aminu Ibrahim and Co., a firm of auditors, to appear before it to shed light on discrepancies.
He said, contrary to the provisions of Section 36 of EFCC (Establishment) Act of 2004, the anti-graft agency failed to remit over N1 trillion.
He alleged that the summary of EFCC monetary recoveries from March 2003 to March 2013 (11 financial years) was N497.385 billion, and that the agency did not mention where the amount was remitted to.
He also said that the letter written by the EFCC to the chairman, House Committee on Drugs, Narcotics and Financial Crimes in 2012, stated that the aggregate recoveries from 2004 to 2011 (8 financial years) was N1.326 trillion without details of remittances.
“How can recoveries for eight financial years be more than recoveries for 11 financial years by over N800 billion when the eight financial years are subsumed in the 11 financial years? Why do recoveries for the same years differ on different reports?”he queried.
“It should be noted that the two documents submitted were prepared under the chairmanship of Lamorde. Compare the first two submissions emanating from EFCC. The 2011 submission is over N800 billion higher than the 2013 submission despite two additional years of naira recoveries in the 2013 submission.
“Based on the records, because EFCC has not been able to account for over N800 billion, EFCC manipulated the above records and grossly understated recoveries in order to conceal the fraud.”
Uboh added that recoveries in the Central Bank of Nigeria account did not reflect in the audited financial statements because, in 2010, CBN’s EFCC account had a balance of N3.3 billion, which was not in the audited account for same year.
He further alleged that personal communications between him and former Governor Alamieyeseigha revealed that the amount declared by the EFCC as the total seizures from him was far less than the actual money he forfeited to government.
He also alleged that the current Bayelsa governor Seriake Dickson, withdrew the mandate given to him to prosecute the EFCC for not refunding the entire amount seized from Alamieyeseigha when he was allegedly intimidated by Lamorde.
Uboh further told the committee that he had records which revealed details of how Lamorde allegedly gave out some of the assets seized from Nigerians to his siblings and friends.