The Senate has declared the former Chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), Mr. Ibrahim Lamorde, wanted over his role in the N1 trillion the agency recovered from treasury looters but which reportedly disappeared from its coffers.
At its plenary session on Thursday, the Senate directed its Committee on Ethics, Privileges and Public Petitions to issue a warrant of arrest on Lamorde to answer charges on how the N1 trillion disappeared from the EFCC’s custody under his watch.
The Upper House had on Tuesday, October 6, 2015, directed the Ethics Committee to investigate a petition presented before it by Senator Peter Nwaoboshi (Delta North).
Nwaoboshi had drawn the attention of the Senate to a petition by one Dr. George Uboh against Lamorde, for alleged financial crimes and corruption, and urged the Senate to probe the matter.
Uboh, who is the Chief Executive Officer of Panic Alert Security Systems (PASS), had petitioned the Senate through Nwaoboshi, alleging that Lamorde, in connivance with other EFCC officials, short-changed the Federal Government in the remittance of funds and properties recovered from the late Bayelsa State Governor, Chief Diepreye Alamieyeseigha and a former Inspector-General of Police, Mr. Tafa Balogun, amounting to N1 trillion.
In his Report, the committee’s Chairman, Senator Samuel Anyanwu, told the Senate that the panel, in the course of its findings, concluded that having waited in vain without Lamorde’s appearance since November 24, 2015, it was forced to conclude that the former
EFCC boss wanted to evade investigation.
He said that the only way to make Lamorde appear before the Senate was to evoke the powers of the Upper Chamber in Section 89 (1C and D) of the 1999 Constitution and to compel his attendance.
The committee, he said, was convinced that unless this line of action was taken against Lamorde, the National Assembly might be drawn into consequential disrepute in the future.
Anyanwu said that to save the National Assembly, as the highest lawmaking body in the country from irreparable damage to its reputation and capacity to summon, Lamorde should be compelled to appear before the committee to answer for the activities of his tenure.
The committee also maintained that to effect recommendation “1” above, a warrant of arrest should be issued by the Senate for Lamorde’s arrest.
Having listened to the submission of Senator Anayanwu as reflected in the committee’s report, the Deputy Senate President Ike Ekweremadu raised a point of order and pointed out that the National Assembly has the powers to:
* Summon any person in Nigeria to give evidence at any place or produce evidence in his possession;
* Issue a warrant to compel the attendance of any person who after having been summoned, fails, refuses or neglects to do so and does not excuse such failure, refusal or neglect to the satisfaction of the House or the Committee in question.
Ekweremadu continued: “The warrant issued under this section may be served or executed by any member of the Nigeria Police Force or by any person authorised by the Senate President or the Speaker of the House of Representatives as the case may be.”
In his remark the President of the Senate, Dr Abubakar Bukola Saraki, welcomed the views of Ekweremadu and asked the committee to adhere to the laid down constitutional provision in compelling Lamorde to answer to its summon.
He said: “The issue has been well spelt out by the DSP, in which he has clearly referred to in the constitution, based on the constitution this matter does not need to come to us at plenary.
“It should be left at the level of the committee and in accordance with Section 89 of the Constitution. So I will sustain the point of order of the DSP.”
Meanwhile, while itemising some of the allegations against the former EFCC boss as contained in the petition by Uboh, Senator Anyanwu said that the EFCC did not reflect all recovered funds.
“That the EFCC doctors and manipulates bank accounts to conceal diversion of fund: That EFCC releases recovered funds to unidentified persons and EFCC officials.
He said: “That EFCC moves fund from its recovery accounts to EFCC operations accounts from where it diverts same: That EFCC trades with recovered funds through bank deposits and placements.
“That over 95 percent of EFCC’s recoveries in foreign currencies, other than those from multinational companies, have been diverted.
“That EFCC colludes with real estate companies in order to grossly undervalue seized assets before they are sold to their cronies.
“That EFCC has not accounted for offshore recoveries: That over half of the assets seized from suspects were not reflected in EFCC exhibit records,” he said.