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Senate To Upturn Perpetual Injunction Secured By Ex-rivers Governor, Odili

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BEVERLY HILLS, November 28, (THEWILL) – The Senate Committee on Anti-Corruption and Financial Crimes has revealed that the Upper Chamber will soon pass an amendment bill of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC Act, which will upturn the perpetual injunction secured by a former governor of Rivers State, Dr. Peter Odili, barring the anti-graft agency from prosecuting or arresting him.

Justice Ibrahim Buba of the then Federal High Court in Port Harcourt, had in 2007, given an order of perpetual injunction, preventing the EFCC and any other government anti-corruption agency from prosecuting or arresting Odili, who was accused of allegedly embezzling about N100bn of Rivers State money during his eight-year tenure.

But there are plans by the EFCC to reopen the investigation of alleged misappropriation of N100bn by Odili when he was in charge of Rivers state between 1999 and 2007.

The committee members had, at the weekend, carried out a surprise oversight visit to the South-South regional office of the anti-graft agency in Port Harcourt, where they said the amendment would give the EFCC the leeway to bypass the injunction secured by the former governor.

The Senator Chukwuka Utazi-led committee spoke in reaction to a request by the South-South regional coordinator of EFCC, Mr. Ishaq Salihu, that the Senate should assist in reopening the investigation and possibly prosecute Odili.

Utazi, who is the chairman of the committee, stated that it was wrong for one arm of the government to stop another from performing its constitutional roles.

According to him, “The House of Representatives has done its bit on the amendment of EFCC Act. It has come to us. The amendments effected in the House of Representatives were not exhaustive. We are going to look into this (issuance of perpetual injunction) issue with a view to correcting it.

“Nobody should stop an organ of government from performing its duties. We want to empower them (EFCC) to work. They cannot work with one hand tied to the back. We are going to ensure that everything is done in accordance with the rule of law. Nobody should be shortchanged.”

Speaking earlier, Ishaq said that the injunction was affecting the morale of operatives in the area, as well as prosecuting other suspects fingered in the alleged fraud.

“The perpetual injunction of Odili is a problem for us. Because of that injunction, it means we cannot invite anybody related to the case to give any testimony. The famous injunction of Justice Buba has killed a lot of cases. The injunction has crippled the EFCC.

“It has killed the morale around here. I do not know if the Senate can look into that. The Act of EFCC makes it hard for us to do anything. The people who should enjoy immunity are presidents and vice, governors and their deputies. We can only investigate them. But in the case of Odili, our hands are tied,” he had pleaded.

Utazi, who was accompanied on the trip by Senators Dino Melaye, Hamman Misau and Mustapha Sani, spoke on the ongoing debate about the coordination of anti-corruption fight in the country, explaining that the EFCC should, going by the law, coordinate the fight.

“It is the responsibility of EFCC to coordinate every anti-corruption war in Nigeria. Whenever other agencies fighting corruption have cases, they need to transfer them to the EFCC for prosecution. Other agencies should not handle that,” he asserted.