The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) has thus far been unable to move against the former governor of Rivers state, Peter Odili because of a perpetual injunction granted by a court stopping the anti-graft agency from moving against him.
Acting chairman of the commission, Ibrahim Magu, said the Court of Appeal has further frustrated the EFCC by refusing to list its appeal against the initial court order for hearing since 2008, thereby effectively stalling the case since then.
Magu, made this known when he led a delegation of the Commission to the headquarters of national daily in Abuja on Monday.
According to EFCC’s prosecutor, Johnson Ojogbene, who was also in the team, the commission is handicapped when it comes to issues of injunctions as there is nothing anyone can do about a court judgment except to obey it.
Odili’s case started in January 2007 when the EFCC issued a report of its investigation into the finances of the Rivers State government under the then outgoing Governor Odili, which alleged that “over N100 billion of Rivers State’s funds have been diverted by Odili.”
The report also contained serious allegations of fraud, conspiracy, conversion of public funds, foreign exchange malpractice, money laundering, stealing and abuse of oath of office against Odili.
But to stop Odili’s arrest following the indicting report, on February 22, 2007, the then attorney general and commissioner for justice for Rivers State filed a suit challenging the powers of the EFCC to probe the affairs of the state claiming that the activities of the EFCC were prejudicial to the smooth running of the government of Rivers State.
On March 23, 2007, Justice Ibrahim Buba of the Federal High Court, Port Harcourt, granted all the declaratory and injunctive reliefs sought by the plaintiff. These included a declaration that the EFCC investigations are invalid, unlawful, unconstitutional, null and void; an injunction restraining the EFCC and the other defendants from publicising the report of the investigation, and an injunction restraining the EFCC from any further action in relation to the economic and financial crimes allegedly crimes committed by Odili.
Wife of the former governor, Mary, was a notable justice of the Court of Appeal. She is now a justice of the Supreme Court, and the EFCC had not been able to vacate the perpetual injunction which was filed in 2008 when Justice Odili was still serving as a Judge of the Court of Appeal, before her elevation to the Supreme Court.