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

Mom Who Went Viral For Looking Just Like Her Daughters Shares Her Secret Beauty Tip

Last week, a photo of 35-year-old Tina Brown and her teen daughters Kyla and Kaylan completely dumbfounded the Internet. You see, Ms. Brown appears so ageless that people could not figure out which one of the three gorgeous ladies in the selfie was the mother. So what's the secret to her eternal youth? Does she wipe her face with an ice cube every morning, like Marilyn Monroe? Does she bathe in a tub of hot...

Olajumoke Gets Furnished Luxury Apartment In Lagos (PHOTOS)

The famous bread seller turned model now owns a luxury apartment in Lagos. Olajumoke Orisaguna’s remarkable story keeps getting amazing each day as a construction company offered her a furnished luxury apartment in Lagos and an enrollment into Poise finishing school.

Army Frees 275 Suspected Terrorists

The Nigerian Army has released 275 persons detained following suspicion of being involved in terrorist activities. Forty-nine out of the detainees are women while 22 are minors. Two Nigeriens and two Cameroonians are also among those released. Theatre Commander of the Operation Lafiya Dole, Major General Hassan Umaru, handed over the detainees not found culpable to the Borno State Governor, Kashim Shettima, in a ceremony at the 7th Division Headquarters Maimalari Barracks. “In line...

Zika Virus Persisted In Man’s Semen For 2 Months

A man in Britain who was infected with Zika while traveling to the Cook Islands showed evidence of the mosquito-borne virus in his semen for two months, health officials said Friday. The finding raises new questions for health authorities as they scramble to learn more about Zika — linked to a surge in birth defects in Brazil — and the risk of transmission through sex. The case involved a 68-year-old man who was infected with...

Saraki’s CCT Trial Begins March 10

Trial of the Senate President, Dr. Bukola Saraki, on 13 counts of false assets declaration is to resume March 10 before the Code of Conduct Tribunal. Our correspondent confirmed that the CCT ?issued hearing notices and served same on parties to the case on Friday. This followed a letter written on behalf of the Federal Government by the lead prosecuting counsel, Mr. Rotimi Jacobs (SAN), intimating the tribunal of the recent judgment of the Supreme...

This Woman Allegedly Vomits, Excretes 80 Wraps Of Cocaine At Abuja Airport

A 48 year-old woman caused a mild drama at the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport in Abuja after she allegedly vomitted 15 wraps of white, powdery substances that tested positive for cocaine. Saidat Hassan, a mother of three,? was arrested at the central screening section of the departure hall during the screening of passengers on an Egypt Airline flight to Jedda, Saudi Arabia, en-route Cairo. She was immediately apprehended by officers of the National Drug Law...

Possible Locations Of Chibok Girls Identified– Air Force

The Nigerian Air Force says it has been able to identify possible locations of the abducted Chibok girls. The Director of Public Relations at the Nigerian Air Force, Group Captain Ayodele Famuyiwa, said that the Air Force is abstaining from attacking the area to make sure that the girls are not hit. He explained that the latest aerial bombardment of Sambisa forest had been aimed at the logistics base of the Boko Haram sect and not areas...

Kwara Govt. Pays N2.4bn To Contractors Handling Road Projects

The Kwara Government says it has paid about N2.4billion to contractors handling over 35 road projects spread across the state. Alhaji Aro Yahaya, the State Commissioner for Works and Transport, stated this on Friday in Ilorin after inspecting some of the projects.   Yahaya said that the contractors were paid in order to fasten the completion of the projects before the commencement of the rains.   According to him, contractors handling road projects in llesha-gwanara, Share OkeOde, Offa-lra and Erinlle-llemona roads had earlier received...

NCC To Sanction Telecom Operators Who Defraud Nigerians Through Dropped Calls

Prof. Umar Danbatta, the Executive Vice-Chairman, Nigerian Communications Commissions (NCC), on Friday, said the Commission would sanction telecommunication operators who defraud Nigerians through dropped-calls.     Danbatta said this during a meeting with newsmen from the North West, North Central and FCT in Kano, where he presented the Commission’s eight-point agenda.     According to him, dropped-call rate is the fraction of the telephone calls which due to technical reasons, are cut off before the speaking parties finish their conversation.   This, he said, were being used...

Supreme Court Adduces Reasons For Wike, Ibikunle’s Return As Governors

The Supreme Court on Friday gave reasons while Nyesom Wike was affirmed as the validly elected governor of Rivers.   Justice Mohammad Mahmud, who presided, held that the Governorship Electoral Petition Tribunal that handled the case swayed INEC guideline on the use of card readers for the election.   The Chief Justice of Nigeria (CJN) also held that the tribunal also denied Wike fair hearing.   The Justice said: "While the court commends the introduction of card readers, the innovation, however, cannot supersede the voters...

Budget Defence: House Decries Uncompleted Projects In FCT

The House of Representatives Committee on the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), has decried the high number of uncompleted projects in the territory in spite of huge allocations for the projects.   Chairman of the Committee, Rep. Herman Hembe (APC -Benue) expressed his displeasure on Thursday in Abuja at the 2016 Priority Budget Defence of the FCT.   He listed the projects visited by the committee on oversight as: Gurara Falls Road, Lower Usman Dam, Vice President’s residence among others. Hembe expressed dissatisfaction at the...

Gov. Wike Suspends Commissioner For Finance, Accountant-General

Gov. Nyesom Wike of Rivers, on Friday, suspended the Commissioner for Finance and Accountant General of the State.   This is contained in a statement issued by Mr Simeon Nwakaudu, Special Assistant to the Governor (Electronic Media), in Port Harcourt.   It said that Dr Fred Kpakol, the commissioner and Sir Abere Dagogo, the Accountant General, had been suspended by the governor.   It said the suspension took immediate effect, but did not give any reason for the suspension of the two senior government officials.     (NAN)

Gov. Okowa Okays Establishment Of Modular Refineries In Delta

Gov. Ifeanyi Okowa of Delta on Friday approved the establishment of modular refineries in the state to create jobs for its teaming unemployed youths.     The governor announced the approval when Mr Isaac Wright, the Managing Director of Wright Global Group, and his team paid him a visit in Asaba.     Okowa said that establishing the refineries in the oil-rich riverine communities would place them close to source of their raw materials.   He said that apart from providing job opportunities for the people, the...

Plateau To Reduce Dependence On Federal Allocation – Lalong

Plateau governor, Mr Simon Lalong, says his state is already diversifying its economy in order to reduce dependence on allocation from Federation Account.   He made this known in Abuja on Friday at the All Progressives Congress Media Roundtable.   The governor said that development of the state was on course but said that it was gradual.   He appealed to Nigerians to be patient and give President Muhammadu Buhari’s administration at least a year for the change being yearned for to be felt.   "We know...

Tunisia To Get $560m EU Loan To Boost Economy

The European Union said on Friday it would give a loan of half a billion euros ($560 million) to boost Tunisia’s economy.   In a statement in Tunis, the union said the assistance was part of broader efforts by the EU to help Tunisia overcome the serious economic difficulties that beset it.   The EU said the assistance came at the request of Tunisia and would take the form of medium-term loans on favourable financial terms.   Few weeks ago, an unemployed man committed suicide...

President Buhari Welcomes Central African Support Against Boko Haram

President Muhammadu Buhari says his administration will partner the 11-member Economic Community of Central Africa States (ECCAS) to rid Nigeria and its neighbours of the menace of Boko Haram.   The president made the statement in Abuja on Friday when he received a message from President Obiang Mbasogo of Equatorial Guinea.   Buhari said he welcomed the effort to organise a joint meeting between ECCAS and the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) with a view to coordinating their responses to the...

Lassa Fever Vaccine Trial In Nigeria Right – Expert

Prof. Dennis Agbonlahor, a member of the National Committee on the Control of Lassa fever, says the trials of newly developed Lassa virus vaccine in the country was a welcome idea. Agbonlahor said this while presenting a paper titled "Combating Lassa fever: A National Health Challenge", organised by the University of Benin on Friday in Benin. He said that the vaccine developed by a combined team from the U.S. Army Medical Research Institute for Infectious Diseases and the Public Health Agencies...

#PAUSIBILITY: Nigeria, Whirlpool of Executive Scoundrels and The Change That May Never Come by Adebayo Coker

I made a New Year resolution to try as much as possible not to burden myself with anything that may cause grief in whatever guise but my beloved nation wouldn’t stop throwing lumps of it my path. If you notice this will be my first post this year. I have tried to evade the many punches but I just couldn’t help it no more. Especially when Na’lie arrogantly...

INEC Adopts Simultaneous Accreditation, Voting In Plateau Rerun Polls

The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), has approved the use of simultaneous accreditation and voting for Feb. 20 supplementary and rerun elections for three state constituencies in Plateau.   The Head, Voter Education of INEC in Plateau, Mr Osaretin Imahiyereobo, said in a statement in Jos on Friday that the elections would hold in Langtang South, Pankshin North and Pankshin South.   In the statement, Imahiyereobo said the procedure would commence by 8a.m. and end at 2p.m.   "Only voters with valid Pemanent Voter Cards,...

HIV/AIDS: NACA Advise Nigerians To Play Safe On Valentine’s Day

Prof. John Idoko, Director-General, National Agency for the Control of AIDS (NACA), has advised Nigerians to love carefully and play safe as they celebrate the Valentine’s Day.   Idoko gave the advice in a statement made available to newsmen in Abuja on Friday.   It urged people to take full charge of their health by knowing their HIV/AIDS status and encouraging their partners to avoid risky behaviours that might expose them to the AIDS virus. "Besides the excitement of the Day, people of all...

Yabatech Expels 29 Students For Exam Malpractice, Fake Results

The Yaba College of Technology (YabaTech), Lagos, says it has expelled 29 students for presenting fake certificates.   Mrs Titilayo Obadimu, the Deputy Registrar (Academics), said on Friday in a statement that of the number, some were expelled for examination misconduct during the 2014/2015 first semester.   She said the academic board had approved the expulsion of the students.   According to Obadimu, using fake certificates to secure admission contravene the rules and regulations of the institution.   "The board considered the report on students with fake...