The immediate past Chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), Mr. Ibrahim Lamorde, who was scheduled to appear before the Senate Committee on Ethics, Privileges and Public Petitions on Tuesday, shunned the committee.
However, it was learnt that his absence was not deliberate as he took ill and had to travel out to seek medical attention.
The former EFCC chairman is facing probe over allegations made by an activist, Dr. George Uboh that he diverted over N1 trillion looted funds recovered by the commission.
Mr. Lamorde was represented at the Senate committee’s probe by Lagos lawyer, Festus Keyamo.
According to Keyamo: “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”.
Rejecting the presentation made by Mr. Keyamo, 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, queried Lamorde for failing to live by example considering that in his former position as EFCC chairman, he usually invited people accused of corruption to come and answer questions.
Sen. Ogba, therefore, interpreted the unavailability of the former EFCC boss at the probe as an act of insult and disrespect to the Senate.
Senator Tayo Alasoadura, who is also a member of the committee, lamented a situation whereby people are showing their “shamelessness”, adding that Keyamo was wrong to have stood in for Lamorde considering the fact that he is a lawyer to the EFCC “and the man he claimed to represent is no longer in office as chairman”.
The Chairman of the committee was forced to stop Keyamo mid-way into his presentation on the grounds that anybody could be invited by the Senate panel to come and give evidence.
The statement did not go down well with Keyamo and what ensued was a heated debate between him and members of the committee.
At end, Sen. Anyanwu insisted that Lamorde should make himself available on November 24 notwithstanding the plea by his lawyer that the ex-EFCC boss would not be available until December 15.
Speaking to reporters later at the National Assembly complex, Mr. Keyamo argued that the committee erred in insisting that Lamorde must appear before it.
According to him, “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”.