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N300m scandal: Why EFCC can’t arrest me – Iyabo Obasanjo

Posted by By GODWIN TSA, Abuja on 2008/04/22 | Views: 1456 |

N300m scandal: Why EFCC can’t arrest me – Iyabo Obasanjo


The embattled daughter of Chief Olusegun Obasanjo, immediate past president of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, Senator Iyabo Obasanjo-Bello says the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) has no power to harass and arrest her in connection with the N300 million unspent budget scandal in the Federal Ministry of Health.

The embattled daughter of Chief Olusegun Obasanjo, immediate past president of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, Senator Iyabo Obasanjo-Bello says the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) has no power to harass and arrest her in connection with the N300 million unspent budget scandal in the Federal Ministry of Health.

Accordingly, she has petitioned the Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Mr. Micheal Kaase Aondoakaa (SAN), Senate President David Mark and the acting Chairman of the EFCC, Alhaji Ibrahim Larmode challenging the two counts charge slammed against her with respect to the scandal.

This is coming on the heels of a letter from the Egba-Lisabi Collectives of Abeokuta demanding the resignation of Senator Obasanjo-Bello from the Senate following the charges against her.

Senator Obasanjo-Bello, who spoke through his counsel, Chief Afe Babalola on Monday, said that the charge against her, particularly counts 55 and 56, were wrong, adding that she was challenging the jurisdiction of the court to entertain the charge or retain her name on the charge sheet.
Contending that Senator Obasanjo-Bello’s appearance in court was not necessary, Chief Babalola said that the charge was defective and did not follow due process. He said his client acted lawfully as she never handled nor received N10million belonging to the Ministry of Health.

The money, he said, was paid to the Senate Committee on Health and was received by the secretary of the committee, stressing that it was sheer harassment to conclude that Obasanjo-Bello expended the money unlawfully.

According to the lawyer, the Senate has confirmed that organising a retreat was a normal practice and that a charge against his client was an abuse.
“It was not true that Iyabo Obasanjo-Bello stole N10million from the Ministry of Health, as alleged in the charge. It was not also true that she retained or pocketed N10million belonging to the Federal Government,” he said.

The lawyer said that the EFCC cannot arrest Obasanjo-Bello because the law does not permit any government enforcement agency to arrest, detain or charge innocent people.
He said: “Freedom is the cornerstone of democracy and an invaluable heritage from civilized nations.
“There seems to be no justifiable reason for the EFCC, which is aware that the Senate approved of the action of the Senate Committee on Health to nevertheless continue to pursue our client. This is more so in that whether or not organizing a retreat is a crime is one of the issues we have turned over to the court for determination.”

The head of chambers in Abuja, Bankole Akomolafe, who addressed journalists on Monday said that it was not in dispute that EFCC charged Senator Obasanjo-Bello to court on two counts, which were already challenged.

Bankole said that the anti-graft body should wait until the court rules on the preliminary application before taking any action against Senator Obasanjo-Bello.
“The EFCC went to the house of our client in the early hours of the day and ransacked it. In the process of searching for non-existent incriminating documents, members of her household were harassed and subjected to untold trauma of the highest order.

“The development prompted us to file another application for injunction seeking to restrain the EFCC from arresting, harassing or further harassing our client, among others pending the determination of the matter before the court. The application is still pending, while all the parties, including the EFCC, had been served with copies of the said process.

“In the instant case, EFCC has been served with a motion asking for an injunctive order pending the determination of the issue of jurisdiction and other constitutional issues.
“It is unnecessary to cite cases in support of the stand of our courts that where a party had been served a motion for an injunctive order, he should refrain from any further step on the matter pending the determination of the issue turned over to court.”

Babalola pleaded with the AGF to direct EFCC not to take any further action on the issues of jurisdiction and competence, which have been turned over to court.
He said: “This plea is not founded on the status of Obasanjo-Bello as a senator or her being the daughter of a former president. There is something more important at stake. It is no less than the imperative need to respect the court and the processes before it.

“As earlier stated, the government of President Umaru Yar’Adua believes and practices the rule of law. Therefore, the government and its agencies, particularly, the EFCC should not do anything which will contradict the philosophy of the government.”

Meanwhile, the Egba-Lisabi Collectives of Abeokuta has slammed a seven-day ultimatum on Obasanjo-Bello to resign on the strength of the allegations of fraud against her or face a recall.
In a letter by its counsel, Mr. Kayode Ajulo, the group said it viewed Senator Obasanjo-Bello’s continuous representation of their interest in the Senate as “derisory, repressive, embarrassing and a mission that will bring nothing but doom to the senatorial zone.

“In the light of the above, you are hereby given seven days ultimatum from today to tender your letter of resignation as the senator representing Ogun State Senatorial Zone.
“Please take notice that should you fail to do as we humbly demanded, our client shall be left with no option than to invoke the constitutional provision of recall process against you upon the expiration of the ultimatum given.”

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Fay(Katy, Texas, US)says...

Actually translates to bravehearted.