Court Stops Ogun Assembly From Initiating Criminal Charges Against Ex-OPIC MD

 

Gbenga Ogunbufunmi

 

 

A Federal High Court sitting in Lagos presided over by Justice Peter Odo Lifu on Friday restrained members of Ogun State House of Assembly from deploying the report of its Anti- Corruption Committee to initiate criminal complaint against Mr. Babajide Odusola, a former Managing Director of the Ogun State Property Investment Corporation (OPIC).

Justice Lifu also declared that the proceedings of the Assembly and the report of the committee, which it purportedly adopted, constitute an infringement on Odusola’s fundamental rights to a fair hearing.

The judge also declared that the Ogun State House of Assembly lacks the competence to investigate an alleged criminal act.

Justice Lifu further held that the chairman of the Committee that allegedly investigated OPIC funds was an interested party, who served together with Odusolu in the previous administration and even inspected some OPIC projects, which he now claimed have not been executed.

Justice Lifu made the restraining orders and declarations while granting an Exparte application, filed and argued by Mr. Ebun Adegboruwa, SAN, and Mr Adetunji Adedoyin-Adeniyi, who are counsel to the applicant.

The judge said that all the reliefs granted will subsist till the hearing and determination of the fundamental rights enforcement suit brought against the Inspector-General of Police and others.

The former OPIC Managing Director, Odusola, had dragged to court the IGP, the Assistant Inspector-General of Police in charge of Zone 2, the Commissioner of Police in Ogun State, the Ogun State House of Assembly and the Attorney-General of the State as respondents, in a suit numbered FHC/L/CS/1273/2021.

The judge had on October 18, summoned all the respondents to appear before the court and give reasons why the reliefs sought should not be granted and adjourned the matter till Monday, November 1.

However, when the matter came up on Monday, none of the respondents was in court, and the judge adjourned till today, for hearing of the Exparte application.

At the resumed hearing of the application today, while there was no legal representation from the side of the police, F. E. Bolarinwa, a Chief State Counsel, from the Ministry of Justice, who represented the Ogun State’s Attorney-General and House of Assembly told the court that they ought to have filed responses to the applicant’s processes, but that the deponent to the application who left Abeokuta to Lagos to do the filing, has not been seeing for some days now.

The counsel therefore appealed to court for a short date, to enable them file counter in opposition to the suit.

Responding, Mr. Adegboruwa, SAN, call the attention of the court’s to the failure of the respondents to appear before the court or file any processes, on two occasions that the matter came up.

Adegboruwa (SAN) while citing several authorites guiding fundamental rights procedure suit, urged the court to grant the exparte appllication filed by the applicant.

Following the submissions of the counsel, Justice Lifu, acceded to the applicant’s request and granted all the reliefs sought in the exparte application.

The judge adjourned the matter till January 13, 2022, for hearing of the substantive suit.

The Assembly, during its plenary on September 21, 2012, had adopted the report of its Committee on Anti-Corruption and Public Accounts, which claimed to have investigated the finances of OPIC and alleged that huge sums of money were missing from OPIC accounts.

But the former Managing Director, Odusola had instituted the suit against all the respondents and sought declarations that the proceedings of the Assembly and the report of the committee, which it purportedly adopted, constitute an infringement on his fundamental rights to a fair hearing.
That Ogun State House of Assembly lacks the competence to investigate an alleged criminal act and that the chairman of the committee that investigated OPIC funds was an interested party, who served together with him ( Odusola ) in the previous administration and even inspected some OPIC projects, which he now claimed have not been executed.

He also sought an order of injunction to restrain the Assembly from deploying the report to initiate any criminal complaint against him before the police and to restrain the police from acting on the said report pending the hearing and final determination of the suit in court.

Odusola backed his application with a 40-paragraph affidavit deposed to by himself. He traced the series of projects executed by OPIC, that the accounts of OPIC have been audited by professionals and that no fund was missing.

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