Senate panel chair, Keyamo trade words over Atiku
The Senate Committee on Banking, Insurance and Other Financial Institutions on Wednesday screened President Muhammadu Buhari’s nominees for the board of the Nigeria Deposit Insurance Corporation.
President Buhari had earlier in May appointed seven persons to the NDIC board.
They are Chief Olabode Akeem Mustapha (Chairman, Ogun State), Garba Buba (Bauchi State), Bello Garba (Sokoto State), Brigadier-General Joseph Okalogu (Enugu State), Mustapha Adewale Mudashiru (Kwara State), Festus A. Keyamo (Delta), and Adewale W. Adeleke (Ondo State).
At the screening, the Chairman of the committee, Senator Rafiu Ibrahim, and Keyamo, however, traded words on the corruption allegation against the presidential candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party, former Vice-President Atiku Abubakar.
While Ibrahim is one of the senators who recently defected from the All Progressives Congress to the PDP, Keyamo is the spokesman for the Buhari Campaign Organisation.
Ibrahim said, “Some people see you as one of ‘troublesome’ lawyers around. It may be trouble in positive (light). How are you going to ensure that you do your job diligently? As a lawyer, you are qualified, but we want to know what other things you can do.
Responding, Keyamo said, “My prosecuting for the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission does not in any way conflict with the function of the board. If for anything, it will be like having two for the price of one because it means one will bring his experience of working with the EFCC to bear. It would have been a different thing if I represent the banks. Here is an agency that is saddled with the responsibility of prosecuting financial crimes. So, the functions will be complementary.
“About being the spokesman for the presidential campaign council, again, there’s no conflict. It has nothing to do with financial issues. The issue of playing a dirty game, I want to say that…
Ibrahim interjected, saying, “I want to refer to your words when you said the presidential candidate of the PDP is corrupt. I think you may have to wait until you’re done with the job before you can sit on the board. This is something that I saw myself. You just have to educate us properly on how you can balance the two.”
Keyamo responded, “I’ll like to see politics as different. This has to do with the role of the regulator, and there is no politics that is going to be involved. I’m struggling to see where there is a conflict. I respect your judgment on my comments. When you say somebody is corrupt and you provide documents. We rely on the parliament for certain documents and…
Interjecting again, Ibrahim said Keyamo had started “playing dirty” in the political game. “I know your antecedents. You are a civil rights lawyer, and maybe that is why EFCC is using you and it is getting results,” he said.
The APC senators in the committee, however, warned Ibrahim against asking questions they termed as political.
Senator Danjuma Goje said, “I want to observe and caution the Chairman that in as much as we belong to different political parties, we should not bring too much politics on this matter. In fact, we have more APC members here. So if we want to vote, we can vote against you. Our government is doing a lot and we are doing everything possible to see that things are done well.”
Also, Senator Fatimah Raji-Rasaki said the screening should be taken away from politics. “I believe Mr Keyamo, if cleared, will be a very good asset for the NDIC,” she said.
Senator Umaru Kurfi also said, “Personally, I have been following all the write-ups of Mr Keyamo. To me, he is an asset. If he is not doing anything right, we can caution him. As far as I’m concerned, let us give him the chance.”
Similarly, Senator Philip Gyunka said Keyamo should be cleared especially for being a SAN.
He said, “You know that most of the banks nowadays operate in a way that jeopardises the sector. We wouldn’t debate based on the majority that we have now but based on the facts before us. What do you have to contribute to safeguard the integrity of the system?
Keyamo said, “The courts in Nigeria, about two days ago, said that if you release the list of people that are corrupt, you do not infringe on their rights; if you rely on concrete evidence, especially when such is coming from a parliament.
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