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

Watch Video Of NAF Airstrike That Wounded Shekau

The Chief of Air Staff, Air Marshal Sadiq Abubakar said at least 300 insurgents, had been killed in air strikes in recent operations in Borno state; also wounding the dreaded Shekau. The CAS said “We have intensified our airstrikes in recent weeks especially on the 19th of August; we strike the terrorist en mass. I am happy about our last night operations, at least 300 of terrorist were killed in that operations,...

Russia Loses Paralympics Ban Appeal

Russia will not compete at next month’s Paralympics in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, after losing an appeal against a ban imposed for state-sponsored doping. The Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) upheld the International Paralympic Committee’s (IPC) ban on all Russian competitors, the BBC reports. The IPC made the decision in light of the McLaren report, which detailed a state-sponsored doping programme operated by Russia. The Paralympics begin on September 7. The IPC’s...

Military Arrest 3 Suspected Niger Delta Avengers Members

The Nigerian Military has announced the arrest of three suspected members of the Niger Delta Avengers (NDA) believed to have carried out the August 8 attack on the military check point in Nembe in which four soldiers were killed. The soldiers attached to Operation Delta Safe were all killed and the suspected NDA members made away with their gun boats, arms and ammunition.

NAFDAC Alerts Of Fake Alcohol

The National Agency for Foods and Drugs Administration and Control (NAFDAC) has alerted Nigerians of the prevalence of fake alcoholic drinks, especially dry in the nation’s markets. Dr Abubakar Jimoh, its Director, Special Duties, told the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Jos on Tuesday that the agency had continued to advise consumers of alcoholic beverages to be alert and be very wary of fake and unregistered drinks. “Drinking alcohol is bad enough and people...

Chinese Company Seeks To Acquire Ajaokuta Steel Company

A Chinese consortium, China Polaris Technologies Co., Ltd, is seeking to acquire the Ajaokuta Steel Company Limited (ASCL) to further boost Nigeria’s diversification drive. During a courtesy visit to the Minister of State for Solid Minerals Development Hon. Abubakar Bawa Bwari in his office in Abuja, Chief Executive Officer of the company Mr. Zhang Wendong, said the mission of his team’s visit was to indicate the group’s interest in investing in Nigeria’s solid minerals sector.

Adamawa Workers Protest, Demand Removal Of Some Govt. Officials

Civil servants in Adamawa on Tuesday staged a protest in front of the Government House Yola calling for the removal of three government officials from office. The protesters, led by the state chairman of the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC), Mr Dauda Maina, shut the entrance to government house for several hours. They were demanding for the sacking of the Chairman of the Adamawa State Primary Healthcare Agency, Dr Abdullahi Belel. They also demanded for the sacking...

Why CBN Barred Nine Banks From All Forex Transactions

Determined not to tolerate any further breach of extant financial regulations, the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) has barred nine banks from all foreign exchange transactions. The banks, as gathered this afternoon, were barred for failing to remit the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) dollar funds to the federal government’s Treasury Single Account domiciled in the CBN as directed by the presidency last year. The banks,...

5000 Fresh Ghost Workers Uncovered In Fed. Civil Service- FG

Vice President Yemi Osibajo has disclosed that an additional 5,000 ghost workers have been uncovered in the on-going daily audit of workers in the Federal civil service. This is apart from the about 35,000 ghost workers earlier unearthed following the full implementation of the Treasury Single Account (TSA) policy by the federal government. Osibajo who disclosed this at the 80th Tabieorar festival of the Church of the Lord Prayer Fellowship worldwide held at Mount Tabieorar...

Zamfara ‘Blasphemy’ Killings “Barbaric & Unacceptable”, Buhari Pledges Justice

President Muhammadu Buhari has condemned the killing of at eight persons in Zamfara State on the allegation of “blasphemy”. A mob, suspected to be students of Abdu Gusau Polytechnic, on Monday descended on a man they accused of blaspheming the Prophet of Islam. They later set those who tried to help him alight. The attack occurred at Talata Mafara, a town in Zamfara. Mr. Buhari described the attack as “barbaric and unacceptable”. Writing...

Presidential Advisory Committee Against Corruption Invites Jibrin To Make Presentation On Allegations Against Dogara

Former Chairman of House of Representatives Committee on Appropriation ans self styled corruption whistle blower, Honourable Abdulmumin Jibrin, has been invited by the Presidential Advisory Committee on Corruption to make a presentation on the allegations of budget padding and abuse of office levied against Speaker Yakubu Dogara and other principal officers of the House. The invitation follows a petition by Jibrin to the committee headed by Professor Itse Sagay SAN on allegations raised against Speaker Dogara,  Lasun, Doguwa,...

John Kerry Meets Buhari Behind Closed Doors

The United States Secretary of State, Mr. John Kerry, on Tuesday met with President Muhammadu Buhari behind closed doors. Kerry arrived at the forecourt of the Presidential Villa in Abuja for the meeting at 3:07pm and was received by the State House Chief of Protocol, Amb. Lawal Kazaure. Kazaure later led him to the President’s office where Buhari and some members of his cabinet and presidential aides were waiting. The...

EFCC Re-Opens 2011 Fuel Subsidy Scandal

The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, has reopened investigations into alleged N10.9 billion 2011 subsidy scam, Daily Trust reports. Reports have it that the anti-graft body has already been grilling some top officials of the IPMAN Investment Company Limited, a company incorporated by some independent marketers to participate in the importation of refined products into the country in 2011. This has helped in giving a direction to the probe with invaluable leads currently being gathered to prosecute the case which...

Power Generation Capacity Down by 3,000Megawatts

Nigeria is losing about 2,000 megawatts of electricity to the attack on the Forcados subsea pipeline by Niger Delta militants, the Minister of Power, Works and Housing, Mr. Babatunde Fashola has revealed. The Minister told energy reporters at a recent conference they organised in Lagos that not long after the attack on Forcados pipeline, power generation dropped to about 2,000MW from 5,074MW. Fashola, who was represented by the acting Managing Director of Niger Delta Power Holding Company, Mr. Chiedu Ugbo, however argued...

Usain Bolt And Girlfriend Will Not Split,He Loves Her Too Much’-Sprinter’s Sister Reacts To Photos Of Him With Other Women

Usain Bolt and his girlfriend will not split up after photos of the Olympic hero with another woman surfaced, his sister has revealed. Bolt's big sister, Christine Bolt-Hylton, 32, has said that Usain Bolt and his girlfriend Kasi Bennett, 26, are a solid couple and will stay together because they are so in love. Brazilian student Jady Duarte, 20, shared pictures which appear to show her kissing and cuddling Bolt after his 30th birthday bash in Rio.And further photos...

Jimoh Hammed: Students Struggle In Nigeria Then And Now

Overtime, students have always been seen as precocious set of people that challenge the injustice within and around their environment, they raise the placard to challenge the tyrannical leaders of their institution, stand as a body that protect the interest of fellow students by making sure that life is favorable  and living is worthwhile for a common student by regulating the price of goods and services consumed by the students populace, they have risen up to make sure that...

Adeeko Ademola Abayomi: The Long Road To Fixing Nigeria’s Battered Economy

The Nigerian economy took a deep plunge this year but make no mistake, it’s not a sudden twist, it’s been long coming and every discernible mind should have seen it coming. However, the un-foretold hardship the current situation of the economy has put on Nigerians have really taken a toll on their memory. The struggle to survive is naturally frustrating millions of Nigeria into believing there should be a quick fix.   Compatriots, there is no quick fix to an economy...

Nigeria Can No Longer Afford Paying Full-Time Lawmakers – Junaid Mohammed

Dr. Junaid Mohammed, a second republic politician, has advised the country to consider electing legislators on full time because the country cannot afford to pay them. The idea of electing legislators on part time basis was brought into the front burner some years ago when it was discovered that Nigeria is among few countries that spend huge amount of money to maintain its lawmakers. However, Mohammed said that it is longer feasible for the country to continue engaging members of the...

Dialogue: New Militant Group Rejects Clark, Backs Diete-Spiff

A new militant group, Niger Delta Greenland Justice Mandate, which has claimed responsibility for attacks on oil facilities in the upland area of the Niger Delta, on Monday warned the Federal Government not to negotiate with Chief Edwin Clark-led negotiation team on behalf of militants in the region. Instead of Chief Clark’s team, the group said they will accept any dialogue coming from the government through the Niger Delta Dialogue Contact Group, led by the first military governor of Rivers...

NDLEA Staff Drown In River Chasing Drug Baron

The Borno Command of the National Drugs Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA) has confirmed the death of one its staff who got drowned in a river while chasing a notorious drug baron. Ona Ogilegwu, NDLEA Commandant in Borno, told the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) on Monday that the incident occurred during an operation in Gwange area of Maiduguri. “In an effort to arrest a notorious baron, four men of the command were involved in a water mishap after diving into the Gwange River...

We Are Not Idol Worshippers – Ooni of Ife

Ooni Alayeluwa Adeyeye Enitan Babatunde Ogunwusi – Ojaja II has reinstated God as his God. The Ife monarch was reacting to criticisms he faced when he led a praise and worship session in a Redeemed church in the United States. He wrote on his official Facebook page, We are tagged as idol worshippers, but truth be told we are not idol worshippers. Our traditions give all the glory, adoration and honor to the almighty God...

Man Remanded Over Sexual Intercourse With Teenage Daughter.

A 56-year-old man, Abdullahi Zakari, who allegedly had sexual intercourse with his 18-year-old daughter, is to remain behind bars pending the perfection of his bail condition, a Lagos court has ruled. A Surulere Magistrates’ Court, which gave the order, said the man should be remanded in Ikoyi Prisons until the bail conditions were met. The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the Magistrate, Mrs. M.I. Dan-Oni, had admitted the accused to a bail of N500,000 with two responsible sureties in...