Court Strike Out Fundamental Right Enforcement Suit Filed By Saraki’s Henchman

* Pix source: The Nigerian Voice

 

The coast is now clear for Economic and  Financial Crimes Commission to resume their investigation as a Federal High Court sitting in Lagos  has struck out a fundamental right enforcement suit filed before the court by a Lagos businessman, Dr Kennedy Izuagbe perceived to be one of the Senate President, Dr Bukola Saraki’s cronies,for lack of diligent prosecution.

On four different occasions, particularly on the 2nd and 20th of June,2017, when the case was mentioned,the two parties were not in court neither were they represented by any legal practitioner.

Consequently,the presiding judge, Justice Olawale Faji  struck out the suit.

Dr Kennedy Izuagbe, in a bid to forestall his arrest and detention, alongside two other applicants,Carlisle and Investment Limited and its  directors/shareholders, had  dragged the Economic and financial crime commission (EFCC) before the  court.

Joined as co-defendants in the suit are,Director of Operations of EFCC,Olaolu Adegbite and the Attorney General of the Federation.

In a statement  in support of  the application  to enforce the fundamental right of Izuagbe filed before the court by Mahmud Magaji, SAN, Dr Kennedy Izuagbe, who is the Managing Director of Carlisle Properties, stated that he was first invited by EFCC on 13 November 2014 and after series of interrogations he did not hear from EFCC until 29 April 2015, when he was again invited.

The applicant said that EFCC requested for some documents including the one relating to how the Senate President,Dr Olusola Saraki purchased his landed properties that Carlisle  manages,adding that he  told them that the landed properties documents of Dr Bukola Saraki and information relating thereto can only be properly addressed by Dr Saraki himself.

However,  Izuagbe stated that he was surprised to read on pages of newspapers how EFCC has been manipulating media perception to the effect that the  portfolio of his company could have been derived from the public service proceeds of its beneficial owners

He added that on August 26,2015 while he was in United States on holiday, he was informed that EFCC came to the headquarters of his company with lorry load of policemen and ransacked their offices and carted away several documents.

Consequently,based on the foregoing,he  approached the court for an order directing the EFCC from further intimidating and harassing him and the  firm’s law abiding staff.

However,in a counter affidavit  by EFCC legal officer Israel Akande  filed before the court by Barrister Mutairu Olusesi,EFCC denied  almost all the claims  of the applicants as  contained in Dr Izuagbe’s suit.

Akande said  the commission is investigating a case of money laundering involving Dr Bukola  Saraki where it discovered several lodgements of cash and monetary instruments by companies linked to Dr Bukola Saraki and regular cash inflows into his personal account by his aides and others yet to be identified  totaling N15billion and $13million.

Akande averred further that the situation peaked on October 26,2009, when 88 different persons paid sums into Dr Bukola Saraki’s account on the same day totaling N80million and that   an investigation commenced to unravel the sources of the fund.

In the course of investigation, it was discovered that  Kennedy Izuagbe was the Managing Director of Carlisle Properties and Investment, the company that received the funds from several individuals and over 150 companies.

He said the  funds were moved to Dr Bukola Saraki’s accounts.

Izuagbe acting on behalf of his principal,Dr Bukola Saraki directed that the inflows into the company’s  account be wired offshore to the beneficial owners.

Based on the investigation being conducted and considering the weighty allegations levelled against  Izuagbe,he was invited by the anti-graft agency with a view to obtaining his reaction to the allegations.

He made voluntary statement and was asked to report back.

However during the course of investigation he broke the news of his mother’s death and was allowed to go on compassionate grounds,thereafter he went incommunicado and all efforts to get him proved abortive as his phone was no longer through hence hampering the course of investigation, said the anti-graft agency

“When all efforts to reach him proved abortive,warrant of arrest was secured for his arrest,”

Akande averred further that EFCC is statutorily empowered to cause investigation to be conducted as to whether any person, corporate body or organisation has committed any economic or financial crimes.

“Therefore,restraining EFCC from further investigations into economic or financial crimes reported to it will send a wrong signals to criminally minded persons who may want to violate the law of the land with impunity and hide under the protection of the court” Akande said.

He urged  the court to refuse to accede to the request of the applicants.

Consequently, aftermath of the court decision to strike out the case, base on lack of diligent prosecution the coast is now clear for the EFCC to resume and continue its investigation of  Izuagbe.

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