By Soni Daniel, Northern Region Editor
Indications emerged yesterday that the Chairman of Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, Ibrahim Lamorde, might not appear before the Senate to answer questions on the alleged diversion of N1 trillion recovered from the sale of the property of a former governor.
This emerged as Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, senators have distanced themselves from the attempt by the Senate Committee on Public Petitions to drag the EFCC Chairman to the National Assembly for questioning when members resume from vacation.
The PDP caucus in the Senate, led by the Senate Minority Leader, Senator Godswill Akpabio, said it would not be part of the probe of Lamorde by the Senate and asked the Committee to suspend the action for now.
The PDP senators said that while they are not opposed to any committee performing its oversight function, they felt that inviting Lamorde at this time was inappropriate since such action mooted in the past had failed to produce any result.
The statement was jointly issued by Senators Akpabio, Phillip Aduda, Emmanuel Bwacha and Abiodun Olujimi.
The chairman, it was learned, was suspicious over the strange invitation at the time the Senators were on vacation and no formal debate had ensued over the said matter.
A source close to the commission said that it was doubtful if Lamorde would honour the invitation slated for today.
EFCC also issued a statement last night, saying it was surprised over the claim that the commission diverted N1 trillion when such never happened.
A statement by the EFCC spokesman, Wilson Uwujaren, said that the commission had never seen anything close to N1 trillion since its inception and wondered how those bent on destroying the commission came by the said amount.
Wilson said: “In the first instance, claims of a N1 trillion corruption in EFCC is infantile and assaults the sensibilities of all reasonable stakeholders in the anti-corruption fight.
“Even if EFCC had not returned a kobo of recovered assets in its 12 years existence in addition to the yearly appropriated funds from the Federation Account, it will be nowhere near a trillion naira.
“This clearly exposes the mission of the so-called petitioner as nothing more than mischief, designed to smear Lamorde.
“More sinister is the discovery that the so-called petition did not follow the procedure for consideration by the Senate. It was sent, not to the senate, but to a member, Senate Peter Nwaoboshi, a first term senator from Delta North.
“Under the Senate rules, petitions meant for consideration by the Red Chamber are sent to the Senate, not to a member of the senate.
“Also, petitions meant for the Senate are tabled at the plenary, before they are referred to the relevant committees for further consideration.”