The former Chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), Ibrahim Lamorde, has asked the Nigeria Police to disregard 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 “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 a statement on Thursday.
“If the court decides otherwise against our position, our client is prepared to appear before the Senate or any of its Committees.”
The Senate on Thursday issued a warrant for Mr. Lamorde’s arrest for repeatedly failing to appear before its committee on Ethics, Privileges, and Public Petitions.
The committee, chaired by Samuel Anyanwu, investigating Mr. Lamorde for alleged corruption, had requested for the arrest warrant.
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 proceeds of corruption recovered by the agency, prompting a Senate committee to commence an investigation.
The Senate Committee on Ethics, Privileges and Public Petitions invited Mr. Lamorde to a “meeting” on August 26 but the former EFCC boss failed to attend.
Another letter of invitation from the Senate committee was sent to Mr. Lamorde proposing another meeting on November 5.
Again, Mr. Lamorde was unable to attend the meeting.
On November 11, the Senate committee issued another invitation letter to Mr. Lamorde urging him to appear before them on November 17.
Mr. Lamorde also failed to appear on the said date, with his lawyer saying he was out of the country on his three-month terminal leave.
On November 19, Mr. Lamorde instituted 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.”
Mr. Lamorde 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.”