The Nigerian Senate has mandated its Committee on Ethics, Privileges and Public Petitions to issue a warrant for the arrest of the former Chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, Mr. Ibrahim Larmode.
Mr. Larmode has failed to honour several invitations by the Senate investigative Panel to appear before it and clear himself of allegations of corruption against him, an offence he allegedly committed while he was heading the anti graft Agency.
The non appearance of Mr. Larmode is compelling the Senate to contemplate applying the last resort provided by law to make the respondent appear before it.
Dr. George Uboh, the Chief Executive Officer of Panic Alert Security Systems, had petitioned the Senate, accusing the former EFCC boss of diverting over =N=2 trillion recovered from politicians and other eminent Nigerians who are said to have looted the nation’s treasury.
In his petition, Dr. Uboh alleged that Mr. Lamorde, in connivance with other EFCC officials, short-changed the Federal Government in the remittance of funds and properties recovered from some eminent public office holders.
Consequently, the Probe Committee completed its investigation, wrote its report and submitted to the Senate without Mr. Larmode appearing to respond to the issues raised against him by the petitioner.
During the consideration of the committee’s report at Thursday’s plenary, the Senate directed the Panel to adhere to the provisions of the constitution, which empowers it (the Committee) to issue a warrant of arrest, routing it through the President of the Senate to the Inspector-General of Police.
The committee in its report, had sought the senate to adopt its resolution seeking that Larmorde be arrested and compelled to appear before it, having shunned three summons by the committee in 2015.
Part of the recommendations reads: “the Committee, having waited in vain for the appearance of Mr. Ibrahim Larmode since 24th November 2015, it was forced to conclude that he wants to evade investigation. The only way to get the former EFCC Chairman to appear before the Committee was to invoke the powers of the senate in section 89 (1C and D) of the 1999 Constitution.
The committee is convinced that unless this line of action was taken, the National Assembly might be drawn into consequential disrepute in the future.”
However, coming through a point of order, the Deputy President of the Senate, Senator Ike Ekweremadu, who is a lawyer, reminded the committee that the constitution had given it power to request the arrest of anyone refusing to honour its invitation or summons.
The Deputy Senate President pointed out that the issuing of a warrant of arrest was not subject to the resolution of the entire Senate, citing section 89 of the 1999 Constitution to have given the committee power to request the arrest.
Senator Ekweremmadu noted that section 89(4) also gives the committee the power to ensure that the person being arrested is made to pay whatever the cost incurred in the course of arresting him.
“The committee can impose such fines that may be prescribed for any such failure and it shall be recoverable in the same manner as a fine imposed by a court of law. The warrant issued under this section may be served or executed by any member of the Nigerian Police Force or by any person authorized by the President of the Senate or the Speaker of the House of Representatives as the case may be.
So, what is required here is for the committee to issue a warrant of arrest and then the President of the Senate will direct the Police to effect the arrest. It is not the business of the senate during the plenary to do so otherwise we will be offending this part of the constitution,” he clarified.
It will be recalled that on December 13, 2012, the Senate under its former President, Senator David Mark, issued its first warrant of arrest on the former head of pension reform task team, Mr. Abdulrasheed Maina.
The arrest warrant was provoked by Mr. Maina’s refusal to appear before the Senate Joint Committee on Establishment and States and Local Government Administration, which was investigating alleged mismanagement of pension funds to the tune of =N=195 billion.