The immediate past Chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, (EFCC) Mr. Ibrahim Lamorde, has been ordered to present himself before the Senate Committee on Ethics, Privileges and Public Petitions unfailingly next Tuesday, November 24.
The order is sequel to the ex-EFCC boss’ absence at the committee’s sitting probing allegations that Lamorde diverted the sum of N1 trillion, being proceeds of assets and looted funds recovered from corrupt public officials.
Mr. Festus Keyamo, who stood in for Lamorde yesterday at the Senate committee’s hearing, pleaded that his client would not be available until December 15 as he was abroad undergoing medical treatment for an undisclosed ailment.
The plea, however, fell on deaf ears.
While defending the ex-EFCC chairman, Keyamo said, “He (Lamorde) is still a policeman, he has no reason to go on exile. Lamorde has served this country very well and let me tell you this if you don’t know. The only way to succeed as the chairman of EFCC is for you not to succeed at all.
“Lamorde is not here today, not out of disrespect to the committee. It is a matter of complete misunderstanding of issues at stake. When Lamorde was invited to this committee, he was invited as chairman of EFCC and between then and now circumstances had changed.
“He is no longer the chairman of EFCC. So, because of that, he thought that would be the end of his invitation because he was invited in that capacity.
“He then handed over the case and traveled for medicals. It was in his absence that the second letter came and addressed as the immediate past EFCC chairman. The fact that he is no longer the chairman, he can no longer be invited except as a witness”.
Chairman of the committee, Senator Samuel Anyanwu, noted that Senate does not accept representation when it invites anybody to appear before it.
A member of the committee, Senator Obinna Ogba, expressed dismay that Lamorde failed to live by example being a former boss of the anti-graft agency that usually invited people to appear before it.
He said the absence of Lamorde at the probe was an insult, and disrespect to the Senate.
In his reaction, Senator Tayo Alasoadura, who is also a member of the committee, said: “We are in a situation whereby people are showing their shamelessness”.
Alasoadura also queried the capacity in which Keyamo was in the Senate being a lawyer to the EFCC “and the man he claimed to represent is no longer in office as chairman”.
Sen. Anyanwu stopped Keyamo half way through his presentation, insisting that anybody could be invited by the Senate panel to come and give evidence.
The development resulted in a heated debate between Keyamo and members of the committee.
Emerging from the Senate hearing room, Keyamo told reporters that the committee was wrong to have insisted that Lamorde must appear before it.
He said: “The constitution is very clear as to those who can be subject to investigation by section 88, 89 of the constitution. By section 88, 89 of the constitution the Senate has powers over two categories of persons.
“The first are those who are subject of investigation. They can be summoned before the committee and the second are witnesses to appear in respect of that investigation”.