Senate spokesperson, Senator Sabi Abdullahi, has said that the full attention which the leadership of the upper chamber was paying to the consideration of the 2016 budget, delayed the request for the issuance of a warrant for the arrest of the immediate past Chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, Ibrahim Lamorde.
Abdullahi told our correspondent in an interview that the process to ensure that the ex-EFCC boss faces investigation at the Senate was still on course.
He explained that since the Senate Committee on Ethics, Privileges and Public Petitions had confirmed making a formal request to the office of the Senate President for the issuance of a warrant for Lamorde’s arrest, necessary actions would be taken in that regard.
He said, “If the committee has made its request to the Senate President, then it is left for somebody also to do his own part because in taking any decision, you must look at what the rules and regulations say.
“We must follow the procedure. It has certain basic things that must be met, perhaps, I want to believe that they are still in the process of doing what has to be done.
“What is our worry now is the budget. If when we have not passed the budget we are now expending energy on how somebody who had gone on ‘AWOL’ is brought back, people will accuse us of not being serious with the welfare of Nigerians.
“Right now we are concentrating our energy on what is key to Nigeria, which is the budget; which itself is a process.”
It will be recalled that the Chairman of the Senate Ethics Committee, Senator Samuel Anyanwu, had confirmed to our correspondent early on in the month that his panel had formally requested the office of the Senate President to issue a warrant for Lamorde’s arrest.
The upper chamber had asked the Anyanwu-led committee to begin the process of issuing the warrant of arrest on Lamorde.
The Senate is investigating Lamorde on a petition written against him by one Dr. George Uboh on an alleged diversion of over N1tn recovered from treasury looters by the anti-graft agency.
Uboh, the Chief Executive Officer of Panic Alert Security Systems, had petitioned the Senate through the senator representing Delta-North senatorial district, Peter Nwaoboshi.
He had alleged that Lamorde, in collusion with some other EFCC officials, shortchanged the Federal Government in the remittance of funds and assets recovered from some eminent public office holders.
Uboh alleged that under Lamorde, the EFCC operated accounts in banks to warehouse recovered funds which did not reflect in the EFCC audited accounts.
He also alleged that the EFCC doctored and manipulated bank accounts to conceal diversion of funds, and also released recovered funds to unidentified persons and EFCC officials.
Apart from these, Lamorde was also accused of diverting over 90 per cent of the EFCC recovered funds in foreign currencies, including those from multinational companies.
At the consideration of the report at plenary, the ethics panel lamented that all avenues explored to get Lamorde’s reaction to the allegations were not successful.
Anyanwu, who read the report, claimed that Lamorde ignored all invitations extended to him and therefore recommended that a warrant of arrest be issued on him.
He said that Lamorde had been invited on three occasions through letters dated August 19, 2015, November 3, 2015, and November 11, 2015, but that all the invitations were turned down by the former EFCC boss.
He listed series of efforts made to get Larmode to appear before the committee to no avail, adding that the panel was convinced that Larmode deliberately refused to appear to defend the allegations against him.
The committee therefore said it was expedient for the Senate to force Larmode to appear if only to ‘save the National Assembly as the highest law-making body of the nation, from an irreparable damage to its reputation and capacity to summon’.
The committee also recommended that a warrant of arrest be issued by the senate for Larmode’s arrest.
Citing necessary constitutional provisions, Deputy Senate President, Ike Ekweremadu, said the ethics committee was supposed to forward a request to the Senate President who would, in turn, issue a directive to the Inspector General of Police.
The Senate President, Bukola Sarski, agreed with his deputy’s submission as he ruled that the committee should do the right thing to get the warrant of arrest issued on Larmode.