A Federal High Court in Abuja, on Wednesday, adjourned ruling till May 13, on the preliminary objections raised by former Governor of Edo state and now the National Chairman of the All Progressive Congress (APC), Comrade Adams Oshiomhole, on the suit seeking to compel the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), to commence criminal investigation against him.
On Wednesday, Oshiomhole asked the court to dismiss the suit for lacking in merit.
The plaintiff, Bishop Osadolor Ochei, had dragged EFCC and Oshiomhole to court, praying it to order the EFCC to investigate different petitions that contained allegations of financial recklessness against Oshiomhole.
The plaintiff told the court that Oshiomhole, while in office as Edo state Governor, procured properties far in excess of his legitimate income.
The Bishop, who is Edo based activist, told the court that he sent a petition to the EFCC on November 4, 2016, where he detailed the alleged corrupt practices he said the ex-Governor was allegedly involved in.
He maintained that EFCC’s refusal to act on petitions containing “weighty allegations” against Oshiomhole, ran contrary to Section 15(5) of the 1999 Constitution (as amended).
However, Oshiomhole, in a preliminary objection to the suit said the plaintiff lacked the locus standi to institute the action.
Oshiomhole argued through his counsel, Terhemba Gbashima of Damian Dodo’s chambers, that the suit filed by the plaintiff is statute-barred, as it was filed 18 months after the cause of action.
According to him, the plaintiff, who he described as a meddle-some interloper, ought to have filed the suit three months after the cause of action.
Gbashima, who prayed the court to dismiss the suit or in alternative strike it out, also submitted that Bishop Osadolor has not shown how the alleged cause of action has affected him more than other indigenes of the state and asked the court to dismiss the suit for being incompetent.
In her response, counsel to the plaintiff, Uju Chukwurah, asked the trial Judge, Justice Anwuli Chikere to discountenance the preliminary objection of Oshiomhole, who is the second respondent in the suit.
She said the EFCC, which was represented in court yesterday by Best Ojukwu, is empowered to investigate financial crimes against anybody and as such, it is under a statutory duty to examine the petition brought before it by the petitioner.
She asked the court to ignore the preliminary objections of the EFCC and Oshiomhole.
Chukwurah said there is a continuous damage, since the subject matter of the plaintiff’s petition has not been addressed, adding that until the petition is death with, the plaintiff’s matter cannot be said to be statute-barred.
She said the the plaintiff, being a indigene of Edo state, has the legal right to file the suit.
The anti-graft agency in its preliminary objection by its counsel, Ojukwu, challenged the jurisdiction of the Federal High Court in Abuja to compel it to arrest and prosecute Oshiomhole over allegation that he diverted public funds to his personal use.
The EFCC admitted that it received petitions accusing Oshiomhole of complicity in acts of corruption, but added 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.
The anti-graft agency, therefore, urged the court to dismiss the suit that is seeking to invoke an order of mandamus to compel it to initiate criminal proceedings against the APC Chairman.
The EFCC, in a preliminary objection challenged the locus- standi of the applicant to file the action.
The anti-graft agency said it has discretion on how to use its available manpower to carry out investigations into petitions submitted to it.
After listening to the submissions of parties in the matter, the court then adjourned till May 13 to rule on the preliminary objections.