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Keyamo slams Senate over Warrant of arrest on Lamorde



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The counsel to the former chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) Festus Keyamo has called on the Inspector General of Police and other law enforcement agencies to disregard any such Warrant of Arrest from the Nigerian Senate’s Committee on Ethics, Privileges and Public Petitions against Mr. Ibrahim Lamorde, for failing to appear before it on corruption charges while in office.

He enjoined the police to resist the invitation to drag themselves into the illegal order following a petition written by one George Uboh against Lamorde to the Committee for investigation.

In a statement in Lagos, Festus Keyamo said based on the petition and subsequent investigation, the Committee wrote a letter of invitation the former EFCC boss to appear before the Committee on 5th November, 2015 but due to other engagements could not honour the invitation.

However, on the 9th of November, 2015, Lamorde was sacked and as a result handed over to the incumbent chairman, Ibrahim Mustapha Magu.

Other invitation were also not honoured as he was said to be outside the country on a three-month terminal leave but eventually appeared before the committee on the 11th November, 2015, but raised objections to the conduct of the investigations by the Committee on two grounds.

Keyamo said, “The Constitution stipulates that the Committee can compel the attendance of a witness by issuing a proper SUMMONS and not an INVITATION LETTER. In the circumstances, it was contended that our client had not been summoned at all. In addition, section 88 of the 1999 Constitution stipulates that only a person presently occupying a public office can be investigated by the Senate in relation to that office and since at the time of this invitation, Lamorde had vacated the office, and could no longer be made the subject of any investigation by the Senate.

He reiterated that based on that, any Nigerian can be summoned by the Senate as a WITNESS in any matter adding that despite their cogent objections, the Committee denied them audience and threatened to have his client arrested.

Based on these facts, Lamorde instructed his lawyer to institute an action at the Federal High Court seeking an interpretation of the powers of the Senate with respect to investigations. In compliance with my client’s instructions, we instituted the said suit with number FHC/ABJ/CS/934/15 on 19th November, 2015 at the Federal High Court and it was assigned to Honourable Justice G.O. Kolawole sitting at Federal High Court 8, Abuja.

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It was further learnt that 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.

He explained that 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.

“The suit came up before Justice G.O. Kolawole for hearing on the 9th December, 2015 and 10th February, 2016 and on both occasions, hearing Notices were served on the Senate and the Committee but on both occasions, they were absent and unrepresented by legal practitioners. At the proceedings of 10th February, 2016, the application for Interlocutory injunction was heard but in its wisdom, the Honourable court decided to give both the Senate and the Senate Committee another chance to come and answer to our client’s suit and the suit was subsequently adjourned till 14th March, 2016 for the Senate to respond to our client’s case.

Keyamo however cautioned the police to respect the law especially as the pillars of democracy is hinged on the rule of law emphasising that when matters are pending before a court of law, all parties are expected to maintain status quo pending the determination of the matter.

He reiterated in his statement that his client’s case was clearly different from the case of other citizens against whom Warrants of Arrest have been issued by competent courts of law affirming that 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.

Describing the conducts of the Senate and the Committee as “legislative rascality as they seek to usurp the powers of the judiciary and to undermine its authority,” called on the police toi 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.

He added that “if the court decides otherwise against our position, our client is prepared to appear before the Senate or any of its Committees.