By Taiye Agbaje
Abuja, May 3, 2023
The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) has prayed a Federal High Court, Abuja to dismiss a suit by Minister of State for Labour, Festus Keyamo, seeking the probe and prosecution of former Vice-President Atiku Abubakar.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the Independent Corrupt Practices and other related offences Commission (ICPC) also urged Justice James Omotosho to discountenance Keyamo’s case.
The minister, who was also the spokesperson, Tinubu-Shettima Presidential Campaign Council (PCC), in the suit filed on Jan. 20, had sought an order compelling the EFCC, ICPC and the Code of Conduct Bureau (CCB) to probe and prosecute Abubakar following claims by one of his ex-aides, Michael Achimugu, that between 1999 and 2007 when he was vice president, he conspired with ex-President Olusegun Obasanjo to rip off the country using what he termed “Special Purpose Vehicles” (SPVs).
At the resumed hearing on Wednesday, lawyers to the EFCC and ICPC, Samuel Okeleke and Mrs. O B. Odogu, in two separate preliminary objections, faulted the competence of the suit and prayed the court to dismiss it.
Okeleke argued that Keyamo did not comply with the requirement of the law in filing the suit, arguing that he ought to have first obtained the leave of the court in seeking to compel an agency of the government to act.
The lawyer contended that having failed to comply with the rules, the suit should not be accorded any attention.
Mrs. Odogu argued that Keyamo did not approach her agency properly, adding that the ICPC works discreetly.
“We do discrete investigation. He (Keyamo) gave us 72 hours ultimatum within which to investigate and prosecute the 1st defendant.
“That is not how we operate. We take our time to do discreet investigation,” she said.
Lawyer to Atiku, Benson Igbanoi, also faulted the competence of the suit while arguing the preliminary objection he filed for his client.
Igbanoi, who accused Keyamo of engaging in abuse of office, urged the court to decline jurisdiction, among other grounds, that no cause of action was disclosed by the plaintiff.
He urged the court to disregard the response filed against his preliminary objection by the plaintiff, arguing that it was filed outside the seven days allowed under the court’s rules.
Keyamo’s lawyer, O. C. Uju, urged the court to dismiss the objections raised by the defendants and proceed to hear the case on its merit.
Uju queried the competence of Atiku’s objection, arguing that it was filed when the court had not assumed jurisdiction over the case and before he could be served with the originating processes.
Justice Omotosho, after entertaining the arguments by lawyers to the parties, adjourned until June 5 for ruling on the preliminary objections.