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23 Oct 2018

Reject suit seeking to probe me for corruption, Oshiomhole tells court

The National Chairman of the All Progressives Congress, Mr. Adams Oshiomhole, has urged the Federal High Court in Abuja to strike out a suit seeking an order compelling the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission to investigate allegations of corruption against him.

Justice Anwuli Chikere, on Tuesday, fixed November 19 for the hearing of the notice of preliminary objection filed by Oshiomhole, a former Governor of Edo State.

The plaintiff, Bishop Osadolor Ochei, had, on October 28, 2016, petitioned the EFCC asking the commission to investigate some corruption allegations against Oshiomhole as governor of Edo State.

Dissatisfied with EFCC’s alleged refusal to look into the case, Ochei filed the 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 he was governor of Edo State.

The plaintiff attached to his suit 86 exhibits.

His lawyer, West Idahosa, had told the court that there were documents and electronic pictures of palatial houses credited to the former governor, whose earnings throughout his lifetime, according to the plaintiff, could not have been able to afford.

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. But Oshiomhole, via a notice of preliminary objection 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 first prayer for being premature and incompetent.

In the notice of preliminary objection hinged on 10 grounds, the former governor contended that the applicant, having failed to file the suit for judicial review within three months of occurrence of the subject of the suit, the suit had become academic.

He added that the action or inaction of the EFCC being subjected to review by the proceedings occurred on December 13, 2016, while the plaintiff only instituted the action for judicial review on June 13, 2018.

He noted that this came about 18 months after the occurrence of the alleged failure being complained about.

Arguing that the plaintiff’s right of action had become unenforceable, Oshiomhole said the plaintiff had not disclosed that he had legal right to file and maintain the action for judicial review, “having not shown how the actions of the second respondent/applicant affected him over and above other residents and indigenes of Edo State.”

He further argued that the court lacked the jurisdiction to entertain the suit for failure of the plaintiff to commence the action within the time provided by extant rules of the court and for failure to disclose locus standi to file the action.

The presiding judge, Justice Chikere, had, on October 8, 2018, granted leave, as required by law, to the plaintiff to commence the suit of “judicial review”.

The judge had granted the leave following the ex parte application moved on behalf of the plaintiff by his lawyer, West Idahosa.

Granting the application, the judge ordered that Oshiomhole and the EFCC be served with all the processes filed in the suit.

She also ordered that the EFCC be served with the same court process, stressing that the service be done within five days from October 9, 2018 when the order was made.

Although EFCC was not represented by any lawyer during the Tuesday’s proceedings, the plaintiff’s lawyer, Idahosa, said the anti-graft commission was duly served.

Justice Chikere on Tuesday adjourned the matter till November 19 for hearing of the preliminary objection.

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