Senator Iroegbu in Abuja
The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) has called on the presidency to set up a high-powered inquiry to verify the claims of an exclusive report published by THISDAY revealing that the Department of State Services (DSS) had arrested a member of the Presidential Investigative Committee on Arms Procurement, Air Commodore Umar Mohammed (rtd), for allegedly fronting for officials of the commission and the Office of the National Security Adviser (ONSA).
Mohammed was arrested on Sunday over allegations that he might have fronted for and received large sums of money from certain individuals and companies on behalf of members of the committee believed to be linked to the EFCC and ONSA.
The individuals and companies, THISDAY gathered, were purported to have paid massive amounts of money to the committee members through Mohammed in order to evade prosecution.
However, reacting to THISDAY’s story yesterday, the EFCC distanced itself and its chairman, Ibrahim Magu, from any illicit activities and resorted to the over-flogged refrain: “corruption is fighting back”.
A statement by its spokesman, Mr. Wilson Uwajaren, said: “The attention of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission has been drawn to a report entitled, ‘DSS Nabs Member of Presidential Cttee on Arms Procurement over Alleged Fraud’, which appeared on page 10 of THISDAY newspaper of June 21, 2016, regarding the arrest of Air Commodore Umar Muhammed (rtd), for alleged fraud.
“The report, quoting anonymous sources, alleged that Muhammed who is a member of the arms procurement committee is ‘fronting for some members of the committee’, including ‘high ranking officials in the EFCC and ONSA’.
“Though the report falls short of naming the so-called officials that Mohammed is allegedly fronting for, it is common knowledge that the acting Chairman of the EFCC, Mr. Ibrahim Magu, is the only member of the Arms Procurement Committee from the commission.”
The EFCC went on to express grave concern over “this spirited attempt to create doubts in the minds of less discerning Nigerians and members of the international community regarding the integrity of its acting chairman”.
“To all intent and purpose, this devious report is another avenue of corruption fighting back as some people have been uncomfortable with the uncompromising stance of the acting EFCC chairman in the fight against corruption,” it stated.
The commission was categorical that no official of the agency that is directly or remotely connected with the work of the Arms Procurement Committee has had any dealings that verge on fraud with Air Commodore Mohammed or any other member of the committee.
It went further to challenge anybody with contrary information to come forward with the evidence.
“The EFCC as a body upholds zero tolerance for corruption and will not condone any act that amount to corruption. If Mohammed is established to have engaged in any illegal activity, he should be held liable.
“In view of the gravity of the issues, the EFCC calls on the presidency to set up a high-powered inquiry to verify the claims of the report and those who have made it their sole business to impugn the integrity of others and cast doubt on the credibility of the anti-corruption war.
“No matter the distraction and attempt by dark forces to derail its work through negative propaganda, the commission will continue to discharge the mandate freely given to it by the Nigerian people to hold all public officers accountable,” it stated.
However, THISDAY gathered from high level sources in the DSS that Air Commodore Mohammed was still in the custody of the security agency, which had expanded its investigation by carting away documents from his residence at No. 4 Lundi Close, off Mississippi Street, Maitama, Abuja.
During the raid on his residence, the DSS discovered $1.5 million cash and 18 luxury cars.
The DSS was also said to have carted away his state-of-the-art cars, including a Rolls Royce, Ferrari and Buggati, among others, and raided his Kaduna residence.
Mohammed, revealed a DSS source, has been very cooperative and has made major revelations that would enable the agency to invite the persons on whose behalf he acted when he received bribes from the individuals and companies that were being probed by the Arms Procurement Committee.