Benin-based human rights activist, Bishop (Dr.) Osadolor Ochei, has filed a suit at the Federal High Court, Abuja, seeking an order to compel the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) to prosecute the former Edo State governor, Mr. Adams Oshiomhole for allegedly building a N10 billion private mansion in his home town, Iyamho and another one worth over N500 million while serving as governor.
The plaintiff contended that the two properties are far beyond the defendant’s legitimate income.
Respondents in the suit are the EFCC and Oshiomhole as first and second respondents respectively.
The motion ex parte was filed by the applicant’s counsel, West Idahosa & Co, and brought pursuant to Order 34 Rules 1 and 3 of the Federal High Court Rules 2009.
Specifically, the suit was filed due to the refusal of the EFCC to act on a petition written to the agency by the applicant against the second defendant.
The petition bordered on alleged economic and financial crimes levelled against Oshiomhole – a leading contender for the national chairmanship position of the All Progressives Congress (APC).
The petition dated October 28, 2016, was published in national newspapers of November 7, 2016.
By the motion, the applicant wants “a declaration that the first respondent has the statutory duty to investigate and commence criminal prosecution of second respondent (Oshiomhole) upon the allegations made by the applicant and establishment of such allegations against the second respondent by the 1st respondent pursuant to Sections 6(b) & (h) and 13(2) of the EFCC Act, 2004.
The applicant also prayed for an order granting leave to him to apply for the issuance of an order of mandamus compelling the EFCC to investigate and commence criminal proceedings against Oshiomhole, upon the allegations made by the applicant against the second respondent, contained in the grounds in support of this application and detailed in the petitions of the applicant to the 1st respondent, dated October 28, 2016 and published in national newspapers of November 7, 2016 bordering on economic and financial crimes.
The applicant said he had complained to the EFCC about allegations of corrupt practices as well as economic and financial crimes against Oshiomhole on several occasions without eliciting any response or interest from the EFCC in this regard.
Ochei argued that EFCC owes Nigeria and Edo State a duty to unravel the truth by investigating the allegations to ascertain the extent of Oshiomhole’s complicity and culpability in respect of the allegations levelled against him.
Among other depositions in an affidavit are that: “On 4th November, 2016, the applicant sent a petition to the first respondent against the second respondent’s corrupt practices while he served as governor of Edo State.
“The applicant repeated the allegation that the 2nd respondent built a sprawling mansion worth more than N10 billion in his hometown, known as Iyamho, Edo State.
“The said building was constructed by Verissimo, a South African architectural outfit.
“The said house of the second respondent has swimming pools, water fountains, multiple theatres for cinema and live performances, huge event halls, bridges, man-made lake, lodges of different sizes, amongst others.
“The said cost of building the mansion is well outside the second respondent’s legitimate income.
“The second respondent’s lifestyle and extent of the said property were not justified by his sources of income. The applicant’s petition is attached as Exhibit “B”, while the reminder from the applicant is attached as Exhibit “B1”.
“The second respondent bought a property along Okoro-Otun Avenue, G.R.A., Benin City, owned by Edo State government while serving as governor of Edo State in an insider deal without due process and in abuse of his oath of office.
“The Okoro-Otun property acquired by the 2nd respondent was originally given to University of Benin as a gift by Edo State government.
“The second respondent, while a dispute was pending in court between University of Benin and Edo State government, forcibly acquired the property for his personal use.
“The second respondent has since erected a structure with an underground apartment, roof-top swimming pool, another giant structure worth more than N500, 000,000 which is far beyond his legitimate income.
“At the time of the sale, the open market price of that magnitude of property and in that such high-brow location was about N100 million.
“This transaction took place while the 2nd respondent was governor of Edo State and he bought the said property for just N23 million vide an Access Bank cheque.
“The second respondent authorised and awarded the highly inflated contract and payment within a relatively short time for the construction of 168 hostel rooms in Edo State University, Iyamho, for the sum of N1.88 billion.
“The average cost per room translates to N10 million. This contract was awarded to the firm of A & K Construction Limited without compliance with due process.
“Similarly, the second respondent authorised and awarded the highly inflated contract of building the teaching hospital of the said university for the sum of N12.2 billion without compliance with due process. The Memorandum of Approval by the second respondent is attached as Exhibit “C”.
“That the second respondent authorised and approved the diversion of N1.2 billion approved for the construction of a new accident and emergency ward complex and renovation of existing structures in the Central Hospital, Benin City for the payment of additional 10 per cent advance payment to A & K Construction Limited for the construction of the teaching hospital of the University of Science and Technology, Uzairue, also known as Edo State University, Iyamho, without compliance with due process and against public interest. The Memorandum of Approval of the said diversion is attached as Exhibit “D”.
“The second respondent borrowed N25 billion from the capital market through the issuance of bonds.
“He purportedly paid the first N6 billion to Hitech Construction on March 2, 2011 and listed several roads as part of phase one of the Storm Water Project to include Adolor College road, Textile Mill road, and a host of others.
“These roads are largely abandoned with little or no work done by Hitech Construction Company. The gullies created as a result of initial work have become major sources of flooding in Benin City. More than six persons have been killed by this artificial flood.
“The second respondent authorised and awarded the construction of the 7.2 kilometres Ogba/Airport Road, Benin City to Servetek Construction Company Limited for construction of drainage structures and dualisation from Ring Road to Ogba River Bridge for industry record-setting sum of N4.4 billion which translates to N611 million per kilometre without compliance with due process.”
The date for hearing of the ex parte motion was yet to be fixed.
With Independent reports