Riding on the crest of baton change at the Economic and Financial Crime Commission (EFCC), some stakeholders have renewed their call for the prosecution of Mr. Adams Aliyu Oshiomhole, on his alleged looting of Edo State treasury, when he served as governor.
Shortly after leaving office in 2016, the EFCC received over eight petitions from different groups and individuals who had accused him of corruptly enriching himself between 2008 and 2016.
For instance, the African Bar Association (AfBA), through its President, Mr. Hannibal Uwaifo and Special Adviser Media, Osa Director Esq have in the past, respectively charged the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) and President Muhammadu Buhari to investigate the various petitions against Oshiomhole.
Uwaifo stressed that the president must sanction the probe if indeed, he wants to prove that the anti-graft war is not selective as alleged by some Nigerians, he added that having such individual as the head of his party was a stain on him (Buhari).
He explained that Adams Oshiomhole has a mountain of petition against him.
“Has he been summoned by EFCC to answer to the petitions? Is it not a stain on Mr. President to be harbouring a man on whom a petition has been written against? Those who are accusing the president of being selective also have a point.
“The petitions are many. When I visited the EFCC chairman last time, I mentioned it. If the Buhari government says they are not selective, let the EFCC start the probe of the petition against Oshiomhole, then we will know that they are very serious.
“We know that there are so many other cases but that is the chairman of the ruling party. Mr. Ibrahim Magu can no longer continue to keep quiet over the petitions against Oshiomhole.” had said in a media parley in Lagos.
In the same vein, AfBA Special Adviser, cautioned that the failure of Magu to arrest and prosecute Oshiomhole is an invitation for anarchy, which is capable of encouraging corrupt practices.
“Honestly, Magu’s refusal prosecute Oshiomhole amounts to corruption on his part. His decision to challenge the order is madanmus has exposed him as supporting Oshiomhole’s activities in Edo State.”
Leading the loads of petition is the one sponsored by a social crusader, Bishop Osadolor Ochie. The petitioner amongst other things, accused the Oshiomhole, who was recently sacked as national chairman of All Progressives Congress, of embezzling several billions of funds earmarked for the development of Edo State.
Bishop Ochei, had, on October 28, 2016, petitioned the EFCC asking the Commission to investigate some corruption allegations leveled against Oshiomhole as governor of Edo State.
Dissatisfied with EFCC’s alleged refusal to look into the case, the Civil Society Activist filed a suit marked, FHC/ABJ/CS/628/ 2018, before the Federal High Court in Abuja seeking an order of mandamus to compel the EFCC to arrest and commence criminal proceedings against Oshiomhole over alleged financial fraud while being the governor of Edo State.
The plaintiff attached 86 exhibits to his suit.
Through his lawyer, West Idahosa, the plaintiff alleged that while in office as governor, Oshiomhole acquired properties in the United States of America, South Africa and Dubai worth billions of dollars and far in excess of his legitimate income.
He alleged that Oshiomhole built a sprawling mansion worth more than N10bn in his home town, known as Iyamho, while he was in office as governor.
The plaintiff stated in his suit, “The said building was constructed by Verissimo, a South African Architectural outfit.
“The said house of the second respondent (Oshiomhole) has swimming pools, water fountains, multiple theatres for cinema and live performances, huge event halls, bridges, man-made lake, lodges of different sizes, among others.
“The said cost of building the mansion is well outside the second respondent’s legitimate income. The second respondent’s lifestyle and extent of the said property were not justified by his source of income.”
Idahosa added, among other allegations, that there was evidence of diversion of Edo State funds by Oshiomhole.
He said there were also vouchers of exorbitant air fares that the former governor allegedly incurred.
He alleged that EFCC’s refusal to act on the complaint of “weighty allegations” violated the provision of Section 15(5) of the 1999 Constitution (as amended) which imposes the responsibility of abolishing corrupt practices on the state.
The hoping of Edo people to recover billions that Oshiomhole allegedly stole from Edo treasury was dashed when the Federal High Court in Abuja, turned around and struck out the suit for an order compelling the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission to investigate certain corruption allegations against the ex governor.
Justice Anwuli Chikere, in her judgment, struck out the case based on separate notices of preliminary objection filed against the suit by Oshiomhole and the EFCC.
It was novel for EFCC to have joined Oshiomhole’s lawyer to object to his investigation. This action was seen by many as wanton showing of bias against the petitioner.
Oshiomhole’s notice of preliminary objection that was filed before the court through his lawyer, Damien Dodo (SAN), contended that the plaintiff lacked the locus standi to institute the legal action.
He also specifically asked the court to strike out the plaintiff’s prayer for being premature and incompetent.
While the EFCC on its part, argued through its lawyer, Best Ojukwu, that the plaintiff lacked locus standi to file the suit.
It further posited that it had the discretion to decide how to use its available manpower to carry out investigations on petitions submitted to it.
The anti corruption agebcy admitted that it received the petition accusing Oshiomhole of complicity in acts of corruption, it 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.”
Justice Chikere subsequently threw out the suit on without considering its merit.
In her judgment, Justice Chikere held that the plaintiff, Bishop Osadolor Ochei, having failed to institute the suit within three months after his petition to the EFCC requesting an investigation into the allegations against Oshiomhole, was not acted on, the case had become “statute-barred.”
The promise by the plaintiff’s lawyer, West Idahosa who was represented by Uju Chukwura to file an appeal against the ruling never materialised.