The former Chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), Ibrahim Lamorde, on Thursday urged the Nigeria Police not to enforce the Senate’s order for his arrest.
In a statement issued by his lawyer, Festus Keyamo, Mr. Lamorde said the police and other law enforcement agencies should resist the invitation to drag themselves into what he termed “this illegal scheme”.
“We most respectfully urge the Nigeria Police Force to await the outcome of the matter pending in court before deciding one way or the other about the enforcement of the said Warrant of Arrest, if eventually issued”, Mr. Lamorde said in the statement.
“If the court decides otherwise against our position, our client is prepared to appear before the Senate or any of its Committees”.
The Senate had during plenary yesterday issued a warrant for Mr. Lamorde’s arrest for repeatedly failing to appear before its Committee on Ethics, Privileges, and Public Petitions.
The warrant for the arrest was sequel to the submission by the committee’s chairman, Senator Samuel Anyanwu that the former EFCC boss was trying to evade investigation.
Mr. Lamorde, a Commissioner of Police currently on course at the National Institute for Policy and Strategic Studies (NIPSS), was removed as EFCC chairman in November last year, four years after he took over as head of the anti-graft agency.
Three months earlier, a petitioner, George Uboh, had accused Mr. Lamorde of diverting about N1 trillion assets, being proceeds of corruption recovered by the agency, prompting a Senate committee to commence an investigation.
The committee on three separate occasions – August 26, November 5 and November 17 – invited Mr. Lamorde to a “meeting” and on each occasion, he failed to honour the invitation with his lawyer saying he was out of the country on his three-month terminal leave.
An attempt by Mr. Keyamo to make a presentation on behalf of the ex-EFCC boss during one of the committee’s public hearings on the matter was rebuffed, leading to a shouting match between the lawyer and members of the committee.
On November 19, Mr. Lamorde directed his lawyer to institute a legal action at the Federal High Court, Abuja, seeking an interpretation of the powers of the Senate with respect to investigations.
“Both the Senate and the Committee were served with the Originating Summons and a Motion seeking an Interlocutory Injunction restraining the Senate from continuing with their investigations pending the determination of the suit”, Mr. Lamorde’s statement read.
“The processes were served on them on 20th November, 2015, but since then, they have refused, ignored and failed to file any process in defence of the suit”.
The former EFCC boss said he would appear before the Senate or any of its Committees if the court decides against him.
”In any event, the Senate Standing Rules are clear to the effect that matters pending before a court of law should not be deliberated upon or discussed on the floor of the Senate or any of its Committees”, he said.
“This is the reason why our client’s case is clearly different from the case of other citizens against whom Warrants of Arrest have been issued by competent courts of law.
“Whilst there is no restriction on the powers of a court of law to issue a Warrant of Arrest against anybody who fails to honour its Summons, the Senate’s own rules forbid it to do anything in respect of matters that are pending in a court of law.
“The conducts of the Senate and the Committee amount to legislative rascality as they seek to usurp the powers of the judiciary and to undermine its authority”.