Imo State governor, Chief Rochas Okorocha has charged Chairman of the National Judicial Council (NJC) and the Chief Judge of the Federal High Court (FHC), Abuja, to disregard the petition by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) against Honourable Justice Taiwo Taiwo for lack of merit.
The anti graft commission had urged both the NJC and Federal High Court to note the ex-parte orders granted Okorocha, Senate President, Bukola Saraki, asking the EFCC not to probe the the Governor and Senate President, pending the determination of the fundamental rights enforcement suit before the court.
The EFCC had alleged professional misconduct and abuse of judicial powers against the judge for granting the orders enforcing their fundamental human rights.
Okorocha, in the letter to the NJC Chairman and FHC Chief Judge, entitled Re:EFCC Reports Justice Taiwo to NJC over Restraining Order on Okorocha, Saraki, stated that “Contrary to the impression being created by the EFCC through its Chairman, the order granted by the Honourable Justice Taiwo was made pursuant to two fundamental human rights suits that I filed before the Court.”
He said that the move against him by the EFCC “smacks of political vendetta and persecution.”
The Governor stated that EFCC operatives ransacked his house in Jos, Plateau State, in May 2017 with the hope of finding something incriminating against him but they found nothing.
He added that EFCC had also arrested almost all his principal staff “and in every case insisting that they must make statements to indict me. When they refused, they were kept in custody for two days.”
According to Okorocha, the EFCC is persecuting him “to distract, decimate and prevent me from being sworn-in as a Senator representing the good people of Imo West Senatorial District on the 9th of June, 2019 when the 9th National Assembly will be inaugurated.”
He added: “My political opponents accused me of nursing an ambition to contest for the position of the Deputy Senate President. In their reasoning, they said the position will give me an edge to contest as President in 2023; so, everything must be done to get me out of the way.”
Okorocha stated that in order to shield himself from the unwarranted attacks by EFCC, he approached the Federal High Court for the enforcement of his fundamental human rights as guaranteed by the 1999 Constitution.
He noted: “Instead of Magu-led EFCC to prove its case before the Court, having submitted to its jurisdiction, it has resorted to cheap blackmail, needless name-calling and unwarranted arm-twisting, all in a bid to achieve their sinister motive of decimating me by all means.”
Okorocha stated further: “The position of the law that has been well-espoused in the case of Governor of Lagos State Vs. Ojukwu (1986) 1 NWLR (Pt.18) PG 621 S.C., is that it is an affront to the Rule of Law to disobey or render nugatory an order of court whether real or anticipatory, and in particular, the case equally states that parties who are before the Court must act within the dictates of equity or directions of the law and Court until the matter is finally disposed.”
The Governor added that the order granted by Justice Taiwo in the fundamental human rights suit he initiated against the EFCC and others was appropriately given in view of the facts placed before the court.
According to him: “It is trite that Chapter IV, Section 46 (1) of the 1999 Constitution states that, ‘Any person who alleges that any of the provisions of this Chapter has been, is being or is likely to be contravened in any state in relation to him may apply to a High Court for redress.’
“It is totally mischievous and misleading for the EFCC or its Acting Chairman to claim that the Honourable Justice Taiwo made orders that restrained it from performing its statutory duties. Nothing could be farther from the truth. What the court gave was an interim order meant to prevent any of the parties from foisting a fait accompli on it.”
Okorocha then called on the NJC Chairman and the FHC Chief Judge to counsel EFCC to demonstrate confidence in the ability of its lawyers to defend it and that of the judiciary to dispense justice instead of making “hollow attempt at forum-shopping and name-calling.”