Justice Anwuli Chikere of a Federal High Court in Abuja, on Monday, held that the suit filed by an Edo State-based cleric and activist, Bishop Osadolor Ochei seeking to compel the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) to commence criminalinvestigation against former Edo state governor, Comrade Adams Oshiomhole was statute -barred.
Ruling on the preliminary objection filed by the former governor, the Judge said the plaintiff ought to file the suit, three months from the cause of action.
She said there was no need for the court to go into other issues in the suit, since the suit itself was statute-barred.
Justice Chikere however agreed with the plaintiff that, by the Act establishing the EFCC, the commission is under the obligation to investigate and prosecute allegations of financial and economic crime.
Oshiomhole had, in his preliminary objection, asked the court to dismiss the suit as the plaintiff lacked the locus standi (legal right) to institute the action.
In the preliminary objection argued on behalf of the former governor by Terhemba Gbashima of Damian Dodo’s chambers, Oshiomhole told the court that the suit filed by the plaintiff was status-barred, as it was filed 18 months after the cause of action.
According to him, the plaintiff, whom he described as a meddle-some interloper ought, to have filed the suit three months after the cause of action.
Gbashima, who prayed the court to dismiss the suit or in alternative, strike it out, also submitted that Bishop Osadolor had not shown how the alleged cause of action has affected him more than other indigenes of Edo state and asked the court to dismiss the suit for being incompetent.
In her response, counsel to the plaintiff, Uju Chukwurah, asked the court to discountenance the preliminary objection of Oshiomhole, who is the second respondent in the suit.
She asked the court to ignore the preliminary objections of the EFCC and Oshiomhole, who is now the National Chairman of the All Progressive Congress (APC).
Chukwurah said there is a continuous damage, since the subject matter of the plaintiff’s petition has not been addressed, adding that, until the petition was dealt with, the plaintiff’s matter cannot be said to be statute-barred.
She said the plaintiff, being a indigene of Edo state, had the legal right to file the suit.
The plaintiff had dragged EFCC and Oshiomhole to court, praying the court to order the EFCC to investigate different petitions that contained allegations of financial recklessness against Oshiomhole.
The anti-graft agency had, in its preliminary objections challenged the jurisdiction of the Federal High Court in Abuja to compel it to arrest and prosecute Oshiomhole, over allegation that he diverted public funds to his personal use while in office as governor.
EFCC admitted that it had received petitions accusing Oshiomhole of complicity in acts of corruption, but added that it was not under any obligation to report or give account of its investigations to any individual or under a timeline within which to carry out its functions.
The anti-graft agency, therefore, urged the court to dismiss the suit that is seeking to invoke an order of mandamus to compel it to initiate criminal proceedings against the APC Chairman.
The plaintiff told the court that Oshiomhole, while in office as Edo state governor, procured properties far in excess of his legitimate income.
The Bishop told the court that he sent a petition to the EFCC on November 4, 2016, where he detailed the alleged corrupt practices he said the ex-governor was allegedly involved in.
He 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).
Felix Omohomhion, Abuja