Your case against Oshiomhole had become statute barred, Court tells applicant

The Federal High Court in Abuja, on Monday, May 13, refused to compel the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, to investigate corruption


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Your case against Oshiomhole had become statute barred, Court tells applicant

 

The Federal High Court in Abuja, on Monday, May 13, refused to compel the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, to investigate corruption allegations against the National Chairman of the All Progressives Congress, APC and immediate past Edo State Governor, Comrade Adams Oshiomhole, saying the case instituted by the applicant, through his lawyer, Mrs. Uju Chukwura had become statute barred.

It was purported that Comrade Oshiomhole had while in office as the Governor of Edo State, diverted public funds to his personal use.

 

In a judgment that was delivered by Justice Anwuli Chikere, the court held that though EFCC has a statutory obligation to investigate corruption allegations, it held that the case that was brought against Oshiomhole had become statute barred.

 

The court held that the Applicant ought to have approached the court for order of mandamus, three months after EFCC refused to act on his petitions.

 

Justice Chikere maintained that having failed to institute the action within the statutorily allowed period, the Applicant, therefore lacked the locus standi to sustain the suit.

 

Consequently, the court said there was no need to consider the merit or otherwise of allegations and affidavit evidence that was tendered against the APC Chairman. It upheld separate preliminary objections that both Oshiomhole and the EFCC lodged against the suit.

 

“In conclusion, this suit lacked merit and it is accordingly dismissed”, the court held. However, the Applicant, through his lawyer, Mrs. Uju Chukwura, vowed to appeal against the ruling, insisting that he has a strong evidence to prove that the APC Chairman corruptly enriched himself with funds he diverted from the public treasury.

 

The EFCC and Oshiomhole challenged the jurisdiction of the court to entertain the suit. In a preliminary objection it argued through its lawyer, Mrs. Best Ojukwu, EFCC, further queried the locus- standi of the Applicant to file the action.

 

The agency maintained that it has the discretion to decide how to use its available manpower to carry out investigations into petitions that are submitted to it.

 

Fresh Angle International gathered that in a suit marked FHC/ABJ/CS/628/2018, an Edo based cleric, Bishop Osadolor Ochei, alleged that Oshiomhole who was sued as the 2nd Respondent, while in office as governor, acquired properties in United States of America, South Africa and Dubai worth billions of U.S. dollars and far in excess of his legitimate income.

 

The Applicant told the court that Oshiomhole built a sprawling mansion worth more than N10billion in his home town known as Iyamho, while he was in office as governor.

According to him, “The said building was constructed by Verissimo, a South African Architectural outfit. The said house of the 2nd Respondent has swimming pools, water fountains, multiple theatres for cinema and live performances, huge event halls, bridges, manmade lake, lodges of different sizes amongst others. The said cost of building the mansion is well outside the 2nd Respondent’s legitimate income. The 2nd Respondent’s lifestyle and extent of the said property were not justified by his source of income”.

 

The Applicant told the court that he had on November 4, 2016, sent a petition to the EFCC, detailing some corrupt practices he said the ex-governor was involved in.

 

He contended that EFCC’s refusal to act on petitions containing “weighty allegations” against Oshiomhole, ran contrary to Section 15(5) of the 1999 Constitution (as amended) which enjoined the State to abolish corrupt practices.

 

Though EFCC admitted that it was in receipt of petitions accusing Oshiomhole of complicity in acts of corruption, it however told the court that it was not under any obligation to report or give account of its investigations to any individual or under a timeline within which to carry out its functions.

 

Consequently, EFCC, urged the high court to dismiss the suit and decline request for an order of mandamus to compel it to initiate criminal proceedings against Oshiomhole. “That investigation of cases is a holistic process which entails time, resources, inter-agency cooperation, interview of different persons and gathering of evidence over a long period of time depending on the nature of the case and other variables”, it told the court.

 

Besides, the Commission, in an 11-paragraphed affidavit that was deposed to by one of its staff, Mr. Yusuf Musa, told the court that it conducts its investigations “professionally and discreetly” before the arrest and prosecution of indicted persons. “That 1st Respondent is a statutory body charged principally with the responsibility of investigation and prosecution of economic and financial crimes. “That the 1st Respondent since its establishment In 2003 and till date receives numerous petitions daily in its eleven offices in various parts of the country against different persons both from within and outside Nigeria. “That investigation into these numerous petitions and criminal complaints including intelligence reports are professionally and methodically carried out by the 1st Respondent in line with its staff strength and enabling statute. “That 1st Respondent in carrying out its statutory functions of investigation and prosecution of economic and financial crimes, attends to all complaint discreetly and dispassionately without political, ethnic, religious and other extraneous considerations.


 



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Victory Ejoh
Special Duties Correspondent of Fresh Angle International Newspaper. I am a graduate of Mass Communication from Nigeria Institute of Journalism,NIJ,Lagos.
Read other stories by Victory Ejoh
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