On Thursday, August 13, 2015, Ibrahim Lamorde, the Chairman of EFCC publicly declared as follows: “We cannot just bring in people to EFCC without any reason. That will not be fair”.
He added that ‘contrary to the allegation that the commission was not doing enough, the truth was that it would NOT go after any suspect without sufficient evidence of wrongdoing’.
In the first part of this article published few days before Lamorde’s public declarations, I had addressed the same issue canvassed by Lamorde, which is: how petitions that lack evidence should be treated. As an example, I analyzed the recent petition against former governor Liyel Imoke by Obono Obla, a ‘legal practitioner’. The earlier article dealt with the introductory parts of the petition as well as its paragraphs one and two. In this second part, I will address the rest of the petition, as contained in paragraphs three to sixteen. Below is the rest of my takes (in seriatim):
First, regarding the Dash aircraft, nobody – not even Imoke – is in denial that Cross River purchased such aircraft from Rivers State government. In point of fact, public information demonstrates that the said purchase was done so many years ago without any untoward incident, and was done transparently too. Why Obono Obla waited several years to dredge up this transaction as a corrupt act raises a lot of questions about his motives and credibility, especially as he is said to be on a desperate political witch-hunt of Liyel Imoke. Further, the petition contains no scintilla of evidence or allegation of any sharp or corrupt act in the purchase, such as inflation of the purchase price or the like.
So, wherein lies the financial crime that calls for EFCC investigation? In Obla’s imaginations? Same goes for the whereabouts of the said Dash aircraft. Obla never alleged that Liyel appropriated the aircraft to his personal use or otherwise sold it and kept the money for himself. So, what is really there to investigate? EFCC does not investigate insinuations; it investigates facts backed by material evidence.
Second, paragraph five called for investigation of “the selling of some part of the State Cultural Centre, Calabar to Shoprite”. Now, what is Obla really saying here? Does Liyel Imoke own Shoprite? No, he does not. Shoprite is a multinational chain store that has been in existence for many decades before Liyel Imoke became governor. Further, did any state or federal law prohibit the sale of government property or business to private enterprises? No, there is no such law. So, again, wherein lies the financial or economic crime Obla is alleging? Strange.
Third, in paragraphs six to fourteen, the petition called for investigation of ‘expenditures’ of certain monies, including most particularly the federal allocations to Cross River local government councils. This very allegation is as confusing as it is totally lacking in any substance. Is Obla calling for Naira by Naira accounting of how LGAs in Cross River spend their monthly allocations? Is that the business of the governor of a state? No, it is not.
Instead, it is the House of Assembly that approves such expenditures to be charged on the State joint local government account. If there is need for a blow-by-blow accounting, it is the business of the Accountant-General of Cross River, not the governor. And concerning the additional mention of a contract, if Obla believes that any contractor did not deliver on any project, he needs to direct his petition against such contractor, not the person of the governor.
Fourth, in paragraph fifteen, Obla calls for investigation of “use of State Funds by Governor Imoke to bribe the hierarchy of the National Executive Committee of the Peoples Democratic Party”. Now, how does EFCC investigate such wild allegation without any evidence? Obla did not state that he possesses any personal knowledge of such bribery, neither did he state that it was based on any information or belief. So, there is really nothing here to investigate. Instead, Obla has exposed himself to a flurry of lawsuits by members of NEC of PDP, and any of such by Imoke himself will be an open-and-shut case.
Finally, at paragraph 16 (the last paragraph), Obla alleges that “Governor Imoke collected and pocketed the sum $7.8 Million meant for the construction of electricity transmission line from Jos-Yola”. Now, this one is really as incredulous as it is potentially libelous, as the National Assembly had, years ago, publicly cleared Liyel Imoke of any wrongdoing when he was the Minister of Power.
In conclusion, let me then again stress that Obla’s petition must fail because he has neither the standing nor the evidence to back his allegations. To be sure, this abject failure to proffer a single evidence is fatal to the petition. In other words, it is not enough to dredge up bare-bones allegations. The EFCC act requires material and relevant facts upon which the allegations are grounded, otherwise your petition must fail as a matter of law.
Sijuade writes from firstname.lastname@example.org