An Abuja Federal High Court, Monday, held that the suit filed by an Edo State-based cleric and activist, Bishop Osadolor Ochei, seeking to compel the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) to commence criminal investigation against the National Chairman of the ruling All Progressives Congress, APC, Comrade Adams Oshiomhole was statute-barred.
Ruling on the preliminary objection filed by the former Edo Governor, Justice Anwuli Chikere said the plaintiff ought to file the suit three months from the cause of action.
Chikere added that there was no need for the court to go into other issues in the suit since the suit itself was statute-barred.
The presiding Judge, however, agreed with the plaintiff that by the Act establishing the EFCC, the commission was under obligation to investigate and prosecute allegations of financial and economic crimes.
Oshiomhole had, in his preliminary objection, asked the court to dismiss the suit as the plaintiff lacks the locus standi (legal right) to institute the action.
In the preliminary objection argued on behalf of the former governor by Terhemba Gbashima of Damian Dodo’s chambers, Oshiomhole told the court 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, whom he described as a meddlesome 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 Edo state and asked the court to dismiss the suit for being incompetent.
In her response, counsel to the plaintiff, Uju Chukwurah, asked the court to discountenance the preliminary objection of Oshiomhole, who is the second respondent in the suit.
She asked the court to ignore the preliminary objections of the EFCC and Oshiomhole.
Chukwurah said there was a continuous damage, since the subject-matter of the plaintiff’s petition has not been addressed, adding that until the petition was dealt with, the plaintiff’s matter could not be said to be statute-barred.
She said the plaintiff, being a indigene of Edo state, has the legal right to file the suit.
The plaintiff had dragged EFCC and Oshiomhole to court, praying the court to order the EFCC to investigate different petitions that contained allegations of financial recklessness against Oshiomhole.
The anti-graft agency has, in its preliminary objections, 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 while in office as governor.
EFCC admitted that it has 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 seeking to invoke an order of mandamus to compel it to initiate criminal proceedings against the APC Chairman.
The plaintiff told the court that Oshiomhole, while in office as Edo state governor, procured property far in excess of his legitimate income.
The Bishop told the court that he sent a petition to the EFCC on November 4, 2016, where he detailed the corrupt practices he alleged the ex-governor was 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).
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