The Chairman, Presidential Advisory Committee Against Corruption, Prof. Itse Sagay (SAN), has faulted Justice Ibrahim Buba of the Federal High Court for granting a perpetual injunction to a former Governor of Rivers State, Chief Peter Odili, which has scuttled the ex-governor’s prosecution.
Buba’s order has prevented the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission and any other government anti-corruption agency from prosecuting or arresting Odili, who was accused of allegedly embezzling about N100bn of Rivers State money during his eight-year tenure as governor.
Sagay further stated that the case could be reopened, adding that measures were being put in place to ensure that such an order was never granted again.
The Senior Advocate of Nigeria stated, “What is happening now is unconstitutional; that judgment was unconstitutional. The judge who gave that perpetual injunction did what was unconstitutional.
“In effect, he was saying that the police should not do their work. He was removing the prosecutorial powers of the police and the prosecution in Nigeria.
“It is illegal and Supreme Court judgments have said so. So, the whole thing we should do now is to restore legality so that if you are charged, you should be able to come to court and defend yourself instead of asking that you should not be investigated.
“That (Odili’s injunction) is totally illegal and unconstitutional and not acceptable.”
Responding to reports that the long delay in the case might have weakened the resolve of security agencies as well as compromised evidence, Sagay urged law enforcement agencies not to give up.
He added, “The important thing is not to give up because if you give up, the whole system will collapse.
“Personally, I have said any judge that gives an order of perpetual injunction against investigation, interrogation and arrest, should be regarded as having committed a serious act of wrongdoing, which should merit disciplinary action by the NJC. That is my proposal and I am going to push it that it should be regarded as an action that should attract discipline.
“I can assure you that under the new system that we are all running, there is no case that will be allowed to remain permanently under injunction. They will have to go through the process and be declared guilty or not guilty; in case of suspended cases, where a person is neither guilty nor innocent will no longer be allowed to exist.
“This case can be reopened, definitely.”
On December 12, 2006, the EFCC had issued an interim investigative report and prepared a draft of 223 charges against Odili, accusing him of embezzling N100bn during his tenure.
In a counter-move, the then Attorney General of the state, and later Nigeria’s Foreign Affairs Minister, Odein Ajumogobia (SAN), on February 23, 2007, sued the EFCC, the then Speaker of the Rivers State House of Assembly, Mr. Rotimi Amaechi, and other defendants in a Federal High Court in Port Harcourt.
In the suit, Buba of the Federal High Court in Port Harcourt granted Odili’s prayer to bar the EFCC from investigating, prosecuting or ever harassing him and officials of his administration.
It was learnt that the EFCC had filed an appeal at the appellate court since 2008 but the case had not been assigned to anybody.
A source at the EFCC stated, “We went to see two Presidents of the Court of Appeal but they never showed interest in the case. It has been eight years that we have been trying to vacate that order to no avail.
“This kind of thing demoralises detectives because evidence may have been compromised, victims or witnesses would have moved on while some of the investigators may have been transferred or retired.”
An EFCC prosecutor, Johnson Ojogbene, told reporters recently that the EFCC had appealed the judgment, adding that Odili’s case was presently hanging at the Court of Appeal, Port Harcourt Division.
He stated that there was the need for proper synergy between the judiciary and the anti-graft agencies in the anti-corruption fight as there was noting the EFCC or anyone could do to overturn the judgment of any court except to appeal.
Ojogbene noted that when the judiciary failed to cooperate, cases could be stalled for ages.
Zabarmari Massacre: Buhari to Provide More Resources for the Nigerian Military
President Muhammadu Buhari has promised to provide more resources to the military in the aftermath of the Zabarmari massacre.
On Saturday, Boko Haram killed 43 people with around 70 people still missing in Zabarmari, a village in Borno State.
Reacting to the massacre, Buhari, through his official Twitter handle @MBuhari said “Nothing is more important than ensuring the security of lives and property of Nigerians. Everything is secondary when security is at stake. I will ensure that more resources are made available to the military and other security agencies to prosecute the war against terrorism.
“As we mourn all the lives lost in Zabarmari, the Armed Forces have been given the marching order to take the fight to the insurgents, not on a one-off, but on a continuous basis, until we root out the terrorists.
“We will intensify our cooperation with neighbouring countries on bilateral and multilateral levels, to ensure that there is no hiding place for the terrorists.
“As I noted earlier, the massacre by Boko Haram in Zabarmari is nothing short of senseless, barbaric, gruesome and cowardly. It reinforces our resolve to root out all forms of insurgency and insecurity not just in Borno but everywhere across Nigeria.”
Boko Haram Kills Rice Farmers in Borno State, Northeast Nigeria
Rice farmers were killed on Saturday morning in the Northeast Nigeria by suspected Islamist militants, Boko Haram, according to a Reuters Report.
The report also noted that 30 of the people killed were beheaded while over a dozen others were still missing.
However, resident of the Zambarmari Village where the attacks took place said a total of 70 people were feared dead.
Another resident and Amnesty International were quoted as saying at least 10 women were among those missing.
In another statement by Edward Kallon, the United Nations’ humanitarian coordinator in Nigeria, it was armed men on motorcycles that led the brutal attack on civilians harvesting their fields.
“Armed men on motorcycles led a brutal attack on civilian men and women who were harvesting their fields,” Edward Kallon stated.
“At least 110 civilians were ruthlessly killed and many others were wounded in this attack,” he added, noting that several women are believed to have been kidnapped.
“The incident is the most violent direct attack against innocent civilians this year. I call for the perpetrators of this heinous and senseless act to be brought to justice,” Kallon said.
On Sunday, Governor Babaganan Umara Zulum of Borno State, who was at the burial told journalists that at least 70 farmers were killed on Saturday.
The Governor, therefore, called on the Federal Government to recruit more Civilian Joint Task Force members, Soldiers and civil defence fighters to protect farmers in the region.
He added that people are facing desperate choices.
“In one side, they stay at home they may be killed by hunger and starvation, on the other, they go out to their farmlands and risk getting killed by the insurgents,” he said.
In The Fight Against Corruption, No Individual is Bigger Than The State – Buhari
In response to the suspended acting EFCC Chairman, Ibrahim Magu, President Muhammed Buhari, lamented that the anti-corruption war becomes endangered “when persons entrusted with the responsibility of that magnitude become suspects themselves.”
Buhari, whose vision is to put an end to corruption in Nigeria, believed that every aspect of the nation’s life is enshrined in corruption and it’s of major concern when leaders of institutions saddled with the mandate to fight the menace are found in the waves of the corruption they claimed to be fighting.
This act is a great abomination not only because it strikes at the root but it also trivialises and undermines the anti-corruption crusade itself, the President explained.
He further said that in a bid to put an end to this great abomination, he had set up Ayo Salami Panel to unravel the mystery behind the mystique of Magu’s alleged involvement in corruption that his administration is fighting.
Buhari said that his administration is ready and willing to go all out in the fight against corruption, and no one is too big nor above the law to become a victim of anti-graft’s sledgehammer.
The president said, “However, the stark reality of widespread corruption becomes poignant when allegations of corruption touch on the leadership of an institution set up by law to coordinate and enforce all economic and financial crimes.
“It is an abomination that strikes at the root and undermines the government’s anti-corruption programme.
“It was in response to the serious allegations against the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission that I set up a panel headed by the Honourable Justice Isa Ayo Salami, retired President of the Court of Appeal, via an Instrument dated 3rd July 2020 pursuant to the Tribunals of Inquiry Act (Cap T21, LFN, 2004).
“We recognise that there are more grounds to cover in the war against corruption, and we are prepared to go out to possess those lands by cutting off any stream that nourishes the seed of corruption and supports its growth.
“Let it be known that in the fight against corruption, no one is too big to tackle, as no individual is bigger than the Nigerian State!”
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