In a significant turn of events, Justice Yusuf Halilu, a distinguished member of the esteemed High Court of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), has rendered a verdict that reverberates throughout the political landscape. Senator Rochas Okorocha, a prominent figure in the realm of governance, finds himself liberated from the shackles of corruption charges meticulously brought forth by the formidable Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).
The recent exoneration of Okorocha by the courts, marking the third instance, in relation to purported fraudulent and corrupt activities during his tenure as the esteemed governor of Imo State from 2011 to 2019, has garnered significant attention.
In a momentous decision that reverberated through the halls of justice, Justice Halilu, with a resolute and unwavering hand, delivered a verdict that sent shockwaves across the political landscape. The former governor, once ensnared in the clutches of the anti-graft agency, emerged unshackled from the weight of the charges that had been meticulously crafted against him. With a keen discernment for the intricacies of the law, Justice Halilu deemed the charges to be an egregious abuse of court processes, thereby setting the stage for a dramatic turn of events.
As per the court’s pronouncement, the actions undertaken by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) in persistently lodging analogous charges against a defendant across multiple judicial forums, particularly in instances where a court of appropriate jurisdiction had already rendered a verdict on the subject matter, were deemed to be in error.
In a momentous turn of events, it is worth noting that Justice Stephen Pam, a distinguished member of the esteemed Federal High Court in Port Harcourt, rendered a judgment in the year 2021 that reverberated throughout the legal landscape. In this landmark ruling, Justice Pam, with utmost sagacity, invalidated the charge brought forth by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) against the honorable Okorocha. The learned justice, in his wisdom, deemed the investigation upon which the charge was predicated as not only illegal, but also unlawful, null, and void. This decision, undoubtedly, carries significant implications for the ongoing discourse surrounding this matter.
In a momentous turn of events, the honorable judge has issued a resolute decree, effectively restraining the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) from pursuing any additional legal action against the erstwhile governor in connection to the aforementioned investigation.
In a stunning turn of events, it was on the fateful day of May 24, 2022, that the commission, with unwavering determination, apprehended none other than Okorocha himself. This arrest, following an intense and protracted siege lasting over six hours at his esteemed Abuja residence, marked a pivotal moment in the unfolding narrative. Without delay, the authorities proceeded to arraign Okorocha and six of his associates before the esteemed Federal High Court in Abuja, a venue of great significance and gravity.
The individuals in question have been accused of engaging in the misappropriation of a substantial amount of N2.9 billion, which rightfully belongs to the esteemed Government of Imo State.
In a momentous ruling rendered on the 6th of February, Justice Inyang Ekwo astutely struck down the charges leveled against the accused, citing a contravention of Section 105 (3) of the esteemed Administration of Criminal Justice Act (ACJA), 2015. This particular section, which bestows upon the Attorney-General of the Federation the formidable authority to summon back a case, was deemed to have been violated.
In a momentous ruling, Justice Ekwo has unequivocally affirmed the binding nature of the Attorney General of the Federation’s (AGF) directive. This directive, conveyed through a letter dated September 12, 2022, commanded the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) to dutifully transmit the case file, along with its insightful comments on the pertinent matters, for meticulous consideration and review. The learned Justice has resolutely upheld the authority vested in the AGF, thereby reinforcing the imperative for the commission to adhere to this directive.
In a momentous decision, the court has concurred with Okorocha’s stance, acknowledging the validity of a previous judgment rendered by a court of equal jurisdiction in Port Harcourt, under the suit number FHC/PH/FHR/165. This judgment effectively restrains the esteemed agency, EFCC, from pursuing any further actions pertaining to the alleged offense in question.
In a display of palpable discontent, the commission, driven by an unwavering commitment to justice, resolutely approached the esteemed High Court of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) and proceeded to lodge an additional array of charges against the erstwhile governor.
However, Okorocha, in a bold move orchestrated by his esteemed legal representative, Chief Ola Olanipekun, Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN), has vehemently contested the adequacy of the accusation in a formal plea, asserting that it constitutes a flagrant misuse of the judicial system.
In a momentous pronouncement rendered on Friday, Justice Halilu unequivocally declared the impropriety of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) in instituting a legal action that had already been adjudicated upon by a court of equal standing. This egregious transgression was further exacerbated by the existence of a court order that explicitly restrained the anti-corruption body from prosecuting Okorocha in relation to the ramifications of an investigation that had been invalidated by the court.
The presiding judge astutely observed that the actions of the commission, in persisting to file the identical lawsuit in three distinct courts, can only be characterized as a flagrant display of judicial misconduct.
In a statement delivered by Justice Halilu, a profound observation was made regarding the expansive investigatory and prosecutorial powers bestowed upon the agency by legislation. It was emphasized that the commission must develop a profound understanding of operating within the confines of the law. Furthermore, Justice Halilu underscored the imperative for the EFCC, as an entity established by legal means, to exhibit a deep reverence for the very laws that brought it into existence.
The esteemed court, in its discerning analysis, duly acknowledged the compelling evidence presented, which unequivocally demonstrated that the exalted Federal High Court, in the auspicious year of 2021, had magnanimously absolved the esteemed Okorocha from the onerous shackles of fraud and corruption charges, meticulously levied against him by the esteemed Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).
The individual astutely observed that although the commission acted in accordance with proper procedure by appealing the judgment, it would have been more prudent for them to refrain from pursuing a parallel legal action against Okorocha in another court of equal jurisdiction.
In a resounding declaration, the court issued a stern caution, emphasizing that no individual or entity can claim exemption from the law’s reach. Furthermore, the esteemed judicial body advised the anti-graft agency to acknowledge the inevitability of concluding legal proceedings.
In a resolute declaration, the court, upon the establishment of a case pertaining to the abuse of court processes, has deemed it most prudent to dismiss the charge at hand. Consequently, the esteemed first defendant shall be granted an honorable discharge.