HALLIBURTON: LAWYER TAKES WAZIRI, EFCC AND CHENEY TO COURT
An Abuja-based lawyer has gone to court asking for the nullification of the plea bargain entered into between the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) and the former US vice-president, Dick Cheney over the Halliburton bribe scandal.
The plaintiff, Mr. Osuagwu Ugochukwu also wants the Abuja High Court to declare that the purported plea bargain entered into by the EFCC on December 16, 2010, did not comply with the provision of the 1999 Constitution because Cheney and his co-accused were not convicted by a competent court before the bargain was entered into.
He said by failing to secure Cheney's conviction before entering into the plea bargain, the EFCC had usurped the judicial powers and authority of the courts in the country, hence its action should be declared illegal, unconstitutional, null and void under Section 6(1) of the 1999 Constitution.
Ugochukwu wants the court to determine whether the EFCC by virtue of Section 14(2) of the EFCC Establishment Act of 2004 is empowered to enter into and validly effect a plea bargain without Cheney and his co-accused being arraigned in a superior court in Nigeria and properly convicted for the offence charged.
He also wants the court to determine whether by imposing a fine on the former US vice-president without the sanction of a superior court, as provided under Section 6(1)(2) (5) and (6) of the 1999 Constitution the EFCC had not engaged in an action that is illegal and unconstitutional. In a 17-paragraph affidavit to support his claim, Ugochukwu said none of the accused ever appeared in court, whereas in plea bargaining, 'an accused agrees to plead guilty to a lesser crime and receives a lesser sentence upon conviction, which was never the case between the 1st, 2nd and 3rd defendants.'
Ugochukwu said he had written the chairman of the EFCC, Mrs. Farida Waziri who is the first defendant in the suit on December 22, 2010, but noted in the affidavit that Waziri never responded to his 'kind advice' contained in the latter, hence the filing of the suit.
Claiming that the fight against corruption in the country had declined since 2008 with little or no conviction of corrupt public officials, he said the concept of plea bargain was being abused by both Waziri and the EFCC since2008, with some accused persons being made to forfeit part of their loot while some are allowed to serve sentences in private hospitals.