Oshiomhole asks court to strike off corruption case against him

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The national chairman of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Mr. Adams Oshiomhole, on Tuesday moved to stop a suit seeking to compel the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) to probe him for alleged corruption.

Oshiomhole, in a notice of preliminary objection to the suit Tuesday asked the Federal High Court sitting in Abuja to strike off the suit for lacking in merit besides being status barred.

The applicant, Bishop Osadolor Ochei, had, on October 28, 2016, petitioned the EFCC asking the commission to investigate some corruption allegations against Oshiomhole as governor of Edo State.

But the APC national chairman, through his counsel, Mr. Damien Dodo (SAN), filed a preliminary objection challenging the applicant on the grounds that he lacked the locus standi to institute the legal action.

In the notice of preliminary objection hinged on 10 grounds, the former governor contended that the applicant, having failed to file the suit for judicial review within three months of occurrence of the subject of the suit, the suit had become academic.

He added that the action or inaction of the EFCC being subjected to review by the proceedings occurred on December 13, 2016, while the plaintiff only instituted the action for judicial review on June 13, 2018.

He noted that this came about 18 months after the occurrence of the alleged failure being complained about.

Arguing that the applicant’s right of action had become unenforceable, Oshiomhole said the plaintiff had not disclosed that he had legal right to file and maintain the action for judicial review, “having not shown how the actions of the second respondent/applicant affected him over and above other residents and indigenes of Edo State.”

He further argued that the court lacked the jurisdiction to entertain the suit for failure of the plaintiff to commence the action within the time provided by extant rules of the court and for failure to disclose locus standi to file the action.

The court later adjourned the matter till November 19 for hearing of the preliminary objection.

The applicant had earlier maintained that EFCC’s refusal to act on petitions containing “weighty allegations” against Oshiomhole ran contrary to Section 15(5) of the 1999 Constitution (as amended) which enjoined the state to abolish corrupt practices.

EFCC was cited as the 1st defendant in the matter.

Specifically, the applicant alleged that Oshiomhole, who was sued as the 2nd Respondent, while in office as Edo State governor, acquired properties in the United States of America, South Africa and Dubai worth billions of U.S. dollars and far in excess of his legitimate income.

He alleged before the court that the ex-governor built a sprawling mansion worth more than N10 billion in his hometown of Iyamho, while in office.

“The said building was constructed by Verissimo, a South African architectural outfit. The said house of the 2nd Respondent has swimming pools, water fountains, multiple theatres for cinema and live performances, huge event halls, bridges, manmade lake, lodges of different sizes, amongst others.

“The said cost of building the mansion is well outside the 2nd Respondent’s legitimate income. The 2nd Respondent’s lifestyle and extent of the said property were not justified by his source of income,” said the applicant.

The applicant told the court that he had, on November 4, 2016, sent a petition to the EFCC, detailing some alleged corrupt practices he said the ex-governor was involved in.

But when the anti-graft agency refused to act on the petition, he approached the court via a suit marked FHC/ABJ/CS/628/2018 seeking an order of mandamus to compel the EFCC to arrest and commence criminal proceedings against Oshiomhole over alleged financial fraud while he was governor of Edo State.

Counsel to the applicant, Mr. West Idahosa, had told the court that there were documents and electronic pictures of palatial houses credited to the former governor, whose earnings throughout his lifetime, according to the plaintiff, could not have been able to afford.

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