The Senate was visibly divided on Wednesday, August 26, 2015 over the decision to probe the Chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), Ibrahim Lamorde, over his non-remittance of more than N2 trillion recovered from former corrupt government officials.
Kicking against the planned probe were Senator elected on the platform of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and senators under the Unity Forum of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) – the group of Senators backed by the party leadership during the senate leadership tussle.
According to them, the move negates the rules of the Senate Standing Orders.
Senate Minority Leader, Godswill Akpabio had on Monday, August 24, 2015 written a letter to the leadership of the National Assemby, distancing himself and other PDP senators from the probe.
In the four-paragraphed letter, the PDP Senate caucus said it was inappropriate for Senator Samuel Anyanwu-led committee to invite Lamorde to appear before it, as similar probes have failed to yield any positive result in the past.
On their part, the Senate Unity Forum of the APC said Lamorde’s probe was illegal and a breach of Senate’s Standing Orders
Speaking via a statement signed by Senators George Akume, Abu Ibrahim, Barnabas Gemade and Ahmad Lawan, the SUF said in standard senate practice, a petition is routed through either a senator or a member of the House of Representatives and when received, the representatives would inform the presiding officer of the chamber and, thereafter, present the petition in the plenary.
The statement read: “Upon presentation in plenary, the presiding officer will invite the senator/House of Representatives to lay the petition on the table in the chamber, which automatically becomes public document. Thereafter, the presiding officer will refer the petition to appropriate committee for consideration upon which it would be returned to the Senate plenary.
“In this regard, nothing of the sort happened. Senate proceeded on recess on August 13 and it is not on record that the petition of Mr. George Uboh, accusing Lamorde of diverting over N1 trillion recovered from some corrupt Nigerians, including former governor of Bayelsa State, DSP Alamieyeseigha, the former Inspector General of Police, Tafa Balogun was presented to Senate in plenary.
“The Senate Unity Forum do support the position earlier adopted by some of our colleagues that the Lamorde probe should be halted as it did not follow due parliamentary process. For the avoidance of doubt, Rule 41(1-3 of the Senate Standing Orders specifically spell out how petitions are handled in the parliament.
“Rule 41(1-3) states:(1) A petition may only be presented to the Senate by a Senator, who shall affix his name at the beginning thereof.
“(2) A senator presenting a petition shall confine himself to a brief statement of the parties from whom it came, the number of signatures attached to it and material allegations contained in it and to reading the prayers of such petitions.
“(3) All petition shall be ordered, without question being put, to lie upon the Table. Such petition shall be referred to the Public Petitions Committee.
“It is after these steps have been taken that the presiding officer would refer the petition to the afore-mentioned Committee.
“It should be noted that, in this case, none of the laid-down procedures was followed before the Senate Unity Forum read in the newspapers that the Senator Samuel Anyanwu -led Ethics privileges and Public Petitions Committee would on Wednesday, August 26, commence probe of EFCC chairman. We stand against this probe. It is illegal and unconstitutional because it did not follow our rules.”