A Lagos businessman Dr Kennedy Izuagbe said to be one of the Senate President, Dr Bukola Saraki’s cronies, has filed an application before a Federal High Court in Lagos, urging the court to re -list his fundamental right enforcement suit struck out by the court for lack of diligent prosecution.
In an affidavit sworn to by a lawyer, Mr Efut Okoi and filed before the court by an Abuja based legal practitioner, Mahmud Magaji SAN, the deponent averred that Dr Kennedy Izuagbe commence the suit against the Economic and financial crimes Commission EFCC, Director Operation, EFCC, Olaolu Adegbite and the Attorney General of the Federation, urging the court to restrain the ant-graft agency from harassing and intimidating him.
Okoi averred further that on September 10, 2015 the applicants prayed the court through an exparte application to restrain the defendants from unlawful arrest pending the hearing and determination of the substantive suit.
The order was granted by the Presiding Judge, A. Yahaya and directed that the applicants should serve the order on the defendants and return back to the court for report of service, the order was served on the defendants.
Pursuant to the retirement of the Presiding Judge, the case was re -assigned, the applicants were not aware that the matter has been re -assigned to another judge, thereafter the matter was adjourned four times before the Presiding Judge, Justice Olawale Faji struck it out for lack of diligent prosecution.
The applicants were not aware of those adjourned dates as they were not in receipt of any hearing notices of the court.
Consequently, the applicants are urging the court to set aside the order of the court striking out the suit and restore the case to the court’s cause list.
No date has been fixed for the hearing of the application.
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, Kennedy Izuagbe who is the Managing Director of Carlisle Properties, stated that he was first invited by EFCC on November 13, 2014.and after series of interrogations he did not hear from EFCC until April 29,2015 when he was again invited.
EFCC requested for some documents including the one relating to how the Senate President, Dr Bukola Saraki purchased his landed properties that Carlisle manages, but 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
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 contained in 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 in- flows into his personal account by his aides and others yet to be identified totaling N15billion and $13million million.
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 Dr 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. Kennedy 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.
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.
He thus urged the court to refuse to accede to the request of the applicant.