EFCC drops graft case against Odili

Published:7 Aug, 2012

Nuruddeen M. Abdallah & Bashiru Abdullahi

A case of alleged multi-billion naira corruption against former Rivers State governor Peter Odili and some officials of his administration has been abandoned by the EFCC, Daily Trust’s investigations have shown.

This is even as the “perpetual injunction” against arrest secured by Odili in March 2008 still subsists because the Appeal Court in Port Harcourt is yet to vacate it nearly four years after the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission filed an appeal.

EFCC began moves to swoop on Rivers state officials in late 2006 when it issued a report of investigation into the state’s finances in which it said over N100 billion was diverted during Odili’s two terms.

The report contained allegations of large-scale fraud, conspiracy, conversion of public funds, foreign exchange malpractice, money laundering, stealing and abuse of oath of office against the former governor.

To stave off impeding prosecution of officials, the then Rivers state attorney general went to court and got a perpetual injunction in March 2007 restraining EFCC from investigating the state government.

A year later, months after he had left office in May 2007, Odili himself went to court and asked to be made to benefit from the injunction and the court granted his prayers, making him perpetually immune from arrest, investigation or prosecution.

In October 2008, EFCC challenged the perpetual injunction at the Court of Appeal, but no judgement has yet been given nearly four years after, because of what a source close to the matter said was lack of diligent prosecution and official interference.

In the meantime, the commission had built a case against Odili and other officials, hoping to move in to file charges as soon as the injunction was lifted, sources familiar with matter said.

But about two years ago, the commission dropped further action against Odili, and retrieved the case file from the lawyer handling the matter, because of what a source said were “orders from above.”

How it started

Investigations by Daily Trust revealed that the Odili case started when EFCC received a petition against him and some officials of the Rivers State government, over allegations of corruption and diversion of public funds on October 31, 2006.

Thereafter, EFCC began investigation into the finances of the Rivers state government and issued an “investigation report” on December 12, 2006.

To counter EFCC’s actions, on February 23, 2007, the then Attorney General and Commissioner of Justice for Rivers State filed a suit number FHC/PH/CS/78/2007 between the Attorney-General for Rivers State vs the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission & 3 others, challenging the powers of the EFCC to probe the affairs of the state and seeking a perpetual injunction against EFCC and other federal agencies from investigating the state.

In the suit, the Rivers state government argued that EFCC had usurped the powers of the State House of Assembly by section 128 and 129 of 1999 Constitution by investigating the disbursing and administering of public funds in the state; directing banks not to release funds to the state government; initiating impeachment proceedings against Odili; instigating (bad) media campaign; and grinding Rivers state to a halt.

Perpetual injunction

Twenty- eight days later, on March 20, 2007, in a judgment delivered by Justice Ibrahim Nyaure Buba, the court granted all the declaratory and injunctive reliefs sought by the state government, including a declaration that the agency’s investigations were invalid, an injunction restraining the EFCC and the other defendants from publicising the report of the investigation; and an injunction restraining the EFCC from any further action in relation to the alleged economic and financial crimes committed by Odili.

Months later, having realised that he was not a party to that case and so he could not benefit from the injunction against EFCC, Odili filed a claim against the EFCC and the Attorney-General of the Federation, in suit number FHC/PH/CS/78/2007, seeking to restrain EFCC from investigating, arresting or prosecuting him.

On March 5, 2008, Odili’s prayers were granted by the same Justice Ibrahim Nyaure Buba, who declared that: “The subsisting judgment of March 2007 by this court is binding on all parties. Therefore there is a perpetual injunction restraining the EFCC from arresting, detaining and arraigning Odili on the basis of his tenure as governor based on the purported investigation.”

Twenty months after the initial injunction was given, on October 6, 2008 EFCC filed an appeal against the injunction of March 2007 on six grounds at Port Harcourt division of the Court of Appeal in suit with file number CA/PH/622/08. In a notice of appeal signed by EFCC’s counsel, Paul Erokolo, SAN, the commission urged the appellate court to set aside the entire judgment.

It argued that the lower court can’t make order to restrain a completed act, saying that the injunctive reliefs were given after the agency had completed its investigations. It argued that section 6, 4 and 46 of EFCC Act 2004 vested on the commission the powers of investigation and prosecution of economic and financial crimes at all levels of governance, thus it did not usurp the powers of the state legislature.

In 2010, EFCC engaged A.B. Mahmoud, SAN to pursue the appeal of perpetual injunction. By May 15, 2010, Mahmoud filed an amended appeal on nine grounds at the appeal court in Port Harcourt.

While the case was ongoing, Odili again went to the Court of Appeal seeking to be included in the case as an interested party. Odili is being represented through his counsel Chief Wole Olanipekun, SAN while Chief Lateef Fagbemi, SAN represents Rivers state government.

On January 27, 2011, the Court of Appeal ruled that Odili should be joined as an interested party.

“We decided not to appeal his inclusion because of time factor. We considered that as a delay tactics and if we appeal this particular case may drag us up to the Supreme Court. And we don’t have time on our hands,” one source involved in the matter told Daily Trust.

A protracted case

A source close to the matter told Daily Trust: “There is serious interference on the case; that is why there is no diligence to prosecute the case.”

Another source cited long adjournments by the appeal court as among factors delaying conclusion of the case. “There are times when the EFCC counsel traveled to Port Harcourt five times consecutively but the case was not heard. They always have excuses; it is lack of man power today, lack of infrastructure tomorrow,” the source said.

Daily Trust findings revealed that the case was last heard on March 15 this year and no date has been fixed for the next hearing. When our correspondent contacted the Registrar of the Court of Appeal in Port Harcourt, Tony Ejike, he said: “There is no date fixed for this case.”

When Daily Trust sought to know the names of justices on the panel handling the case, the registrar said, “I won’t give you their names because if a particular judge handles the case today, it is another judge that will come the next time. So, I can’t give you specific names.”

The court registrar also declined providing the Daily Trust with the records of the last proceedings.

Efforts to get documents relating to the appeal from the EFCC also proved abortive.

When asked why the EFCC dropped the corruption case against Odili, spokesman for the commission Wilson Uwujaren said in a text message: “EFCC didn’t withdraw any charge against Odili. There was an order stopping the commission from investigating the former governor. That order is the subject of appeal at the Court of Appeal Port Harcourt.”

‘FG is shielding Odili’

Speaking to Daily Trust on the protracted case, Malam Auwal Musa Rafsanjani, Executive Director of Civil Society Legislative Advocacy Centre (CISLAC), said this was an indication that the Federal Government is not serious in tackling corruption in the country.

“It is clear that the current administration is not interested in dealing with corruption and corrupt people in Nigeria,” he said.

“There are many investigated cases of corruption but there is no political will to take action and sanction against those who are established to be corrupt, rather we see the government through the Attorney General and Minister of Justice and EFCC withdrawing some corruption cases since this government came to power.”

In his reaction, spokesperson of the Congress for Progressive Change (CPC), Engr Rotimi Fashakin, said, “The war against corruption cannot be said to be effective if the law is purposely hamstrung to prosecute Dr Peter Odili.”

“Unfortunately, the Nigerian judiciary is facilitating this vitiation of the prosecutorial powers of EFCC in bringing Odili to justice,” he said.

“I remember some years ago, a UK-based Nigerian lawyer, Mr Osita Mba, wrote and delivered a petition to the former Chief Justice of Nigeria, Idris Kutigi, on the perpetual injunction granted by a high court judge, forbidding the EFCC from prosecuting him and what this portends for the administration of justice in Nigeria,” Fashakin said.

“After about three months, the former CJN wrote this Nigerian lawyer that his petition lacked merit. What the former head of the Nigerian judiciary failed to tell Nigerians is whether it was in the interest of justice vis-a-vis the fight against graft in the country for a lawful agency to be prevented from carrying out its legal duty.”


Daily Trust

Related Posts

Recent Posts

Nigerian Doctor Who Asked Patient ‘Do You Like Big Ones Or Small Ones?’ Is Suspended In Canada

A tribunal has found Dr. Adekunle Williams Owolabi guilty of all four professional misconduct complaints lodged against him and suspended his licence to practise for six months. The decision was given Monday in St. John's, at the professional misconduct hearing against Owolabi conducted by a tribunal panel established by the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Newfoundland and Labrador. At an earlier hearing, Labrador teacher Arlene Johnson testified that when she visited Owolabi for a pelvic exam he made...

Lil Wayne Officiated Same-Sex Wedding While In Jail

In Gone ’Til November, which covers his stint in New York’s Rikers Island , the rapper says that the union was toasted with 13 bottles of Gatorade  

Court Freezes all Imo State Government Accounts

The Court of Appeal sitting in Owerri, has ordered the freezing of all the accounts of Imo State Government and the confiscation of all monies domiciled in them. The court gave the order while delivering judgement on an appeal filed by the Governor of the state Rochas Okorocha, the Attorney General of Imo State, the Environmental Transformation Committee and the Ministry of Petroleum and Environment, Imo State. The state government had approached the court to upturn...

Senate Rejects Sale Of National Assets To Revive Economy

The Nigerian Senate has rejected the proposed sale of national asset by the federal government. The Senate took the decision on Tuesday at the resumed plenary after extensive deliberation. The Buhari administration has proposed the sell some asset to revive the economy. But many Nigerians are opposed to the plan, arguing that previous sales barely helped the nation’s economy. The government has suggested that if it eventually adopts the policy, it would insist on a re-purchase

Tinubu’s Allegations Not True – Odigie-Oyegun

The National Chairman of the All Progressives Congress, Chief John Odigie-Oyegun, has said he will not take issue with the National Leader of the party, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu. He, however, said “most” of the allegations in the media report were “not true,” noting that the party would focus on the September 28 governorship election in Edo State, which he said was his “priority”. Odigie-Oyegun said this on Monday in Benin in response to the call...

The Jewel In The North, Celebrating #ZamfaraAt20 – Ahmad Abdul Kareem

As Nigerians all over the world celebrated 36 years of Nigeria’s independence from colonial rule on October 1 1960, a different kind of celebration was going on in newly created Zamfara State. In an early nationwide broadcast on that memorable then, the then Head of State and Commander in Chief of the Armed Forces, Late General Sani Abacha announced the creation of Zamfara State out of the old Sokoto State. The celebration and jubilation in Zamfara on that day was...

Man Sentenced To 30 Months In Jail Over Stolen Slippers

A Kano Senior Magistrates’ Court sitting in Rijiyar Zaki on Monday sentenced, Rabiu Sani, 22, to 30 months imprisonment for theft of slippers. The Senior Magistrate, Aminu Fagge, sentenced Sani to two years and six months after he pleaded guilty to a one-count charge. Fagge did not give the convict of Aisami Quarters in Kano an option of fine. Prosecutor Yusuf Sale had told the court that Surajo Umar of Kurna Quarters, Kano, reported the case to Nasarawa Police Division, Kano,...

Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie’s Prenup Details Revealed; Custody Battle May Get Messy

Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie signed an ‘ironclad’ prenup before tying the knot in 2014. Its details have just been revealed as well as the fact that the real battle between Brad and Angelina will be over the custody of their children. According to TMZ, Brad and Jolie signed a prenuptial agreement that outlines exactly who gets what before they wed back in 2014. Their combined fortune is a reported $400 million. Brad & Jolie have 12 total properties together...

Donald Trump keeps Sniffling During Presidential Debate and the Internet Wants to Know Why

Republican party candidate Donald Trump who recently raised questions about Hillary Clinton’s health, claiming she had no stamina, appeared to be sniffling during the U.S presidential debate on Monday night—and social media users took notice. Clinton was diagnosed with pneumonia earlier this month and her campaign team has constantly refuted claims by Donald Trump that she is not medically fit to be president, so Twitter users reacted when they saw Trump sniffling repeatedly....

ISIS Monsters Executes Six Members who Fled Battle by Crushing them With BULLDOZER

There is no limit to ISIS barbarity as the monsters crushed six of its own members to death with a bulldozer after accusing them of running from a battle. The men, who were killed on Monday according to local reports, fled the town of Sharqat in northern Iraq. According to Iraqi News, civilians were forced to watch the barbaric execution. The strategic town outside Mosul fell to Government forces, who have launched a major campaign to retake the northern...

16-year-old Boy Survives After Jumping From a 23rd Storey Building to Impress a Girl

A 16-year-old lovestruck Russian boy, Alexander Shadrin, miraculously survived after plummeting from a 23rd storey balcony while trying to impress a girl. The teenager fell 23 floors from a high rise balcony after a macho stunt to 'impress a girl', but survived after landing on the roof of a parked Renault taxi, and was conscious when paramedics arrived. The Russian teenager had climbed over the railing of the balcony at his home...

Nollywood Actor Kalu Ikeagwu Reportedly Arrested Over a Theft Case

Contrary to reports that Nollywood actor Kalu Ikeagwu was abducted by gunmen in front of the gate of his house in Ogba area of Lagos around yesterday afternoon, he was allegedly arrested by security agents following a robbery and homicide case. According to Encomium Magazine, the newly married actor was arrested by security agents, in front of his house in Ogba area of Lagos around 3:40pm, yesterday, following a robbery and homicide case. He explained to his...

OPC Tortures Pastor Over Wife’s Death In Ogun

A pastor with the Christ Apostolic Church, Onigbogbo, Atan Ota, Ogun State, Pastor Olusegun Omoniyi, is critically ill after he was allegedly abducted and tortured by some members of the Oodua People’s Congress. It was learnt that 45-year-old Omoniyi had also gone into hiding after he was rescued by policemen from the Sango Area Command. He said he feared for his life as the OPC members had threatened to recapture and kill him. Punch Metro learnt that the OPC members were...

Vandalisation Of Pipelines Has Made Nigeria Lose 3000mw Of Electricity – Fashola

The Minister of Power, Works and Housing, Babatunde Raji Fashola, has attributed a colossal loss of 3000 megawatts in the last six months (between April and September) to consistent vandalisation and sabotage of the country’s pipelines and assets. Fashola who gave this disclosure at the Wilson Centre, Washington DC, USA on the sidelines of the just concluded United Nation’s meeting, said, “over 3000 megawatt of power had been lost over the last six months due to consistent vandalism and sabotage...

Selling National Assets Will Be A Historic Mistake – Soludo

The federal government will be repeating mistakes of the past should it sell some of the nation’s assets as has been proposed in some quarters, Chukwuma Soludo, former governor of Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), has said. Asset sale has recently emerged as one of the strategies for Nigeria’s quick exit from its current economic recession, and notable public figures have argued for and against it. Writing on the subject on Monday, Soludo said he initially labelled the asset...

17-Year Old Teen Kills Himself Moments After Accidentally Shooting Dead His Friend

A Labor Day with friends turned into a devastating tragedy for four high school students when one accidentally shot another, and then killed himself out of despair. Marsavious 'Savie' Frazier was showing Daquarion Hunter, both 17, a gun as they sat by side in an alley behind their friend's home in Kalamazoo, Michigan. The gun accidentally went off and struck Hunter in the chest, causing him to drop to the ground. Frazier immediately panicked and ran, putting the gun to his...

Herdsmen Kills 3, Burn Down Houses In Kaduna Villages

Herdsmen have again allegedly killed three in Dogon Daji village and torched part of Antang Village all around Godogodo in Jema’a Local Government Area of Kaduna State. The Godogodo axis has been under intense siege since July by alleged herdsmen. Affected villages said, the alleged Fulani are pushing them out using violence claiming that most of the affected villages have been designated as Cattle Grazing Reserves by the government. Meanwhile, the acting Local Government Chairman of Jema’a LGA, Mr. Humble Katuka...

Dad Films Himself Eating Wife’s Placenta As Part Of Breakfast

A father has sparked uproar after posting a video of himself eating his wife's placenta with an English fry-up breakfast a week after his baby boy was delivered . Ross Watson, 32, even added pepper and brown sauce to the placenta, declaring that it was "edible and nutritious". In the video, Mr Watson sits down at a dining table with a raw piece of placenta on a plate, a plate of cooked placenta and a normal English breakfast plate...

House Wife Loses Pot Of Rice To Thieves In Abakaliki

A middle-aged woman identified as Agnes on Sunday in Abakaliki lost the pot of rice she was cooking to thieves. Some pressmen who visited Agnes’ residence behind Nnodo Secondary School, Amike-Aba on Monday report that she was still in shock over the incident. It took repeated appeals by the correspondent to make Agnes talk, as she maintained that her husband had barred her from speaking further on the issue to avoid negative attention to the family. “I came back from a...

I Will Not Trade Words With Tinubu Because I Respect Him – Oyegun

The National Chairman of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Chief John Odigie-Oyegun said monday that he would not be drawn into a war of words with one of the National Leaders of the party, Senator Bola Ahmed Tinubu, over the allegations levelled against him by the latter on the Ondo State governorship primary until after the governorship election in Edo State. Tinubu on Sunday took a swipe at Oyegun over the outcome of the Ondo State governorship primary...

Jordanian Writer who Posted Cartoon Mocking ISIS and Muslims Killed Outside Courthouse

A prominent Jordanian writer Nahed Hattar standing trial for sharing a cartoon deemed offensive to Islam was shot dead by an lone gunman outside a court house in Amman, the capital of Jordan. 56 year old Hattar was struck by three bullets as he made his way into the court house yesterday Sept. 25th. He was preparing to enter the courthouse for a hearing when the gunman shot him at close range.