Akpabio’s press statement distancing the PDP caucus from Lamorde’s probe in the Senate has disrupted EFCC’s move to probe the immediate past governor of Akwa
Ibom State, Elombah.com has learnt.
The Senate committee on Ethics and Privileges is investigating the EFCC boss, after it received a petition from George Uboh, the Chief Executive Officer of an Abuja based firm, Panic Alert Security Systems, accusing Ibrahim Lamorde of fraud amounting to over N1 trillion.
The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) Caucus led by Senator Godswill Akpabio had on Monday distanced itself from the exercise.
Akpabio said in a four-paragraph letter, which was jointly signed by the PDP Senate caucus leaders that it was inappropriate for the Senator Samuel Anyanwu-led committee to invite Lamorde to appear before it, since such steps in the past did not produce any result.
According to records at the EFCC, Akpabio is scheduled to appear before the commission’s investigators to answer questions arising from series of petitions against him by an Abuja-based Akwa Ibom State-born lawyer, Leo Ekpenyong and Associates, that he abused his position as governor and used the proceeds to build sprawling estates in many parts of the country.
But Akpabio caused a serious problem for the EFCC and the Senate when he wrote a letter to the National Assembly leadership dissociating himself and other PDP senators from the moves to probe Lamorde, over allegation that he diverted N1 trillion from the proceeds seized from corrupt officials.
Based on Akpabio’s letter, the Senate was split over the decision to invite Lamorde while the EFCC was equally in a quandary over dropping or shifting the invitation to Akpabio to appear and answer questions based on the petition by the law firm of Leo Ekpenyong and Associates.
Although the state had denied all the allegations levelled against the former governor, the EFCC summoned Akpabio to appear before its interrogators today to clear the air on the claims against him.
Four aides of the former governor had been interrogated between Monday and last night, apparently to elicit some information to use against him today.
There was a dramatic twist yesterday as the Senate committee was told that Lamorde failed to remit N2.051 trillion to the federation account apart from diverting more than one trillion naira recovered by the anti-graft agency. The Senate was palpably in disarray over the bid to probe EFCC, over failure to remit the money, being funds recovered from corrupt former leaders.
Defending his petition against the EFCC and Lamorde, Chief Executive Officer, Panic Alert Security Systems, PASS, Dr. George Uboh, asked the Senate to get Lamorde arrested for failing to remit the money which the EFCC recovered between 2004 and 2013.
Uboh also asked the Senate to compel Access Bank to bring complete and unadulterated statements of EFCC from 2004 till date as well as force Aminu Ibrahim and Co, (Auditors) to shed light on the discrepancies.
However, a top EFCC source said they were slightly confused following the letter written by Akpabio, which gave tacit support to the commission’s chairman.
The source said: “We have seen what the former governor has done and we are aware that we have invited him to answer some questions relating to his tenure but we will see how the whole thing (probe of the former governor) will go.”
Asked if the commission had written the former governor changing the date of his appearance before the interrogators, the source said that it was not a condition that the letter of invitation should be withdrawn but did not say if the Senator had objected to the date or not.
It was based on the strength of the former governor’s letter that many top-ranking senators opposed the probe of Lamorde and gave the impetus to the chairman to shun the panelists. He only sent emissaries, who were promptly turned away by the committee.
Meanwhile the All Progressives Congress, APC, Akwa Ibom State chapter, has said that the position of Senate Minority Leader and former governor of Akwa Ibom State, Godswill Akpabio, on the decision by the Senate to probe Lamorde, is “a declaration of war on not just President Muhammadu Buhari but on Nigeria”.
In its response, on Tuesday, the APC said the rebellion against the planned probe by the PDP caucus in the Senate “on the orders of Akpabio is a litmus test to the Buhari led administration to prove that it is ready and determined to fight corruption, irrespective of who is involved”.
The party also said the objection to the planed probe of how over N1trillion said to have been recovered from a former Governor of Bayelsa State, Diepreye Alamieyeseigha; and a former Inspector-General of Police, Tafa Balogun was diverted by Lamorde, in connivance with other EFCC officials thereby short-changing the Federal Government in the remittance of funds and property recovered “is a perfect opportunity for the Senate President, Bukola Saraki, to choose whose side of the divide he belongs”.
“We find it hypocritical for Akpabio to say that his PDP led minority caucus in the Senate is not against any committee of the Senate performing its oversight duties but feel that this is not the appropriate time to embark on the most important assignment.
“We hereby state categorically and for the records that now than ever is the best time to probe not just the N1trillion diversion but also how Akpabio himself as Emperor of Akwa Ibom between 2007-2012 looted over N4 trillion,” the APC said.