Senate on Tuesday vowed that the Upper Chamber would proceed on investigation into alleged diversion of N1 trillion by Chairman of Economic and Financial Crimes
Commission (EFCC) Ibrahim Larmode ignoring pressure from PDP senators not to proceed with the investigation
[Image: Senator Bukola Saraki]
Earlier today, Elombah.com had reported that the People Democratic Party (PDP) Senators are kicking against the scheduled investigative hearing of Chairman of Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) over alleged diversion N1 trillion
The petitioner, Dr. George Uboh, who is the Chief Executive Officer of Panic Alert Security Systems, had petitioned the Senate through the senator representing his Delta North constituency, Peter Nwaoboshi, alleging that Lamorde, in connivance with other EFCC officials, short-changed the Federal Government in the remittance of funds and properties recovered from Alamieyeseigha and Balogun.
The Senate committee had, on Monday, dispatched summons to Mr. Lamorde ordering him to appear before the upper legislative chamber on Wednesday.
However, Chairman of the Committee on Ethics, Privileges and Public. Petitions, Senator Samuel Anyanwu vowed to proceed with already schedule probe of EFCC boss who was accused of diversion of N1 trillion.
According to Anyanwu at an interview session with journalists yesterday, the PDP leadership in the Senate namely the Minority leader, Godwill Akpabio, Deputy Minority Leader, Philip Aduda, Minority Whip, Emmanuel Bwacha and Deputy Minority Whip, Abiodun Olujimi, confused his committee’s invitation to Lamorde to a failed one, earlier moved on the floor of the senate in form of an amendment to a prayer in a motion.
He said Lamorde’s scheduled appearance before his committee today along with the man alleging him to be involved in N1trillion scam, is a fall out of a petition to that effect, which falls within the ambit of the functions of the Senate Committee on Ethics, Privileges and Public Petition.
He said: “As the Chairman Senate Committee on Ethics, Privileges and Public Petitions, I am answerable to the Senate in the first instance. Two, this Committee attends to every petition that come from the public and the invitation to the EFCC boss is one of those petitions and the petitioner is going to appear before the Committee.
“If you look at the press statement by the Senate Minority Leader and by extension, PDP leader, Senator Akpabio, it was a misinformation.
” This is so because he is wrongly linking Lamorde and others invitation to what happened on the floor of the senate weeks ago when an attempted amendment of a prayer in motion where the CBN Governor was to be invited with the EFCC boss regarding money laundering and all that , but rejected. So, their statement was clearly based on misinformation”.
He emphatically said that the committee is going ahead with the probe today, saying” this is a standing committee of the Senate. It is not only EFCC boss that was invited. There are other petitions which we have invited the petitioners and those petitioned against.
‘We have FIRS, Comptroller General of Customs that are also coming tomorrow (today), so, I don’t know why this should be an issue. We are guided by the Senate Standing Rule and the 1999 Constitution to invite anybody when the matter arises”
When asked what next in case the embattled EFCC boss refuses to honour the invitation, he said: “I cannot conclude that now because I don’t want to pre-empt anything for now”
Interview with Anyanwu, Chairman, Senate Committee
Samuel Anyanwu, Chairman, Senate Committee on Ethics, Privileges and Public Petitions
As a PDP senator, what is your reaction to PDP senate caucus, kicking against Lamorde’s invitation?
As the Chairman Senate Committee on Ethics, Privileges and Public Petitions, I am answerable to the Senate in the first instance. Two, this Committee attends to every petitions that come from the public. And the invitation to the EFCC boss is one of those petitions and the petitioner is going to appear before the Committee. And if you look at the press statement by the Minority Leader of the party, Senator Akpabio, it was a misinformation. There was an amendment of a motion at the floor of the Senate where the CBN Governor was to be invited with the EFCC boss regarding money laundering and all that. But we stood it down. So, there was a misinformation. So, he thought that it was the same issue. But this is a petition against the person of the EFCC boss.
Have you sorted that out with him?
He called and he felt sorry about that.
Will another counter-statement be issued today?
It is a press statement he made. It has been clarified on the issue. So there is no misunderstanding.
Will the Committee go ahead with the probe?
Of course, this is a standing committee of the Senate. It is not only EFCC boss that was invited. There are other petitions which we have invited the petitioners and those that petitioned against. We have FIRS, Comptroller General of Customs that is also coming tomorrow. So, I don’t know why this should be an issue. We are guided by the Senate Standing Rule and the 1999 Constitution to invite anybody when the matter arises.
How would you react to a statement by EFCC spokesperson who said the senate did not follow due process in inviting the EFCC Chairman?
No, that is not correct. There are ways petitions can come to the Senate. A petitioner can write straight to the Senate President and the President would minute to the appropriate committee that is involved.
What happens if the EFCC Chairman doesn’t turn up?
I cannot conclude that now because I’m pre-empting what is not available yet until tomorrow if he doesn’t come. He is not summoned, this is an invitation. There is a difference between summoning and invitation. There is a petition before the Committee and we have just invited the petitioner to come and substantiate his petition before the Committee. It is after the petitioner must have come that we will now invite the person petitioned against. Ans before we invite anybody, we normally send a copy of the petition to the person that is petitioned against so that the person will have a first-hand information about why he is invited by the Committee. And that is what we have done and that is the normal procedure.
Is there a divided house in the Senate?
There is no divided house. It is just a misinformation. At least somebody can be misinformed and when you get the accurate information instead of going back to counter, you will look like a problem.
Were you part of the meeting that gave birth to the statement?
This is just a press statement. It is not the entire house. You know most people are on vacation. So, we will give it that benefit of doubt.
Is the Committee on a vendetta mission against Lamorde?
There are many ways the Senate can operate: at the plenary, committee and the constituency. We are on vacation. A committee like Ethics and Privileges, we have a lot petitions and now that we are on recess, each member agree to spend their time to work. And we have to turn in the report of this petitions at the floor of the Senate for the consideration of the entire Senate. We have so many petitions, up to 10 petitions. This is the summary of petitions received so far. That of EFCC is one of them and FIRS and so many of them. There is no situation that because we are on recess we cannot sit.
Two, the issue of invitation of Senate President’s wife has nothing to do with our job. It is not on that basis (motion) that we are inviting the EFCC boss. This committee is a fact-finding committee. Our job is: every petition that comes to this committee must be treated. There is one implication. If somebody says there is a petition against the EFCC boss, the person is a Nigerian. He has the right and as long as he will come before the committee to substantiate the petition, we must take it serious. Because if you don’t take it up, what you will hear is that people will say probably we have been settled that is why we didn’t bring up the matter. It’s only a mere allegation. We cannot convict anybody, we are not a lawcourt.
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