COURT RULES ON IBORI’S CASE….Ibori’s Lawyers say they are studying the Judgement to determine next line of action.
The Federal High Court Asaba declined Monday to declare that the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission was infringing on Chief James Ibori’s Fundamental Human Rights. Ibori applied to the court in April seeking a declaration that EFCC’s attempt to arrest and re-arraign him over matters that
already investigated and found to be baseless but also over which a court of competent jurisdiction had discharged him, was in breach of his Fundamental Human Rights.
In a judgement that lasted from 9am to 10 am on Monday June 28 2010, Justice I.N Buba ruled that “it was premature” for Ibori to have brought up the case accusing EFCC of re-investigating him and attempting to re-arrest him and re-try him on questions pertaining to his stewardship while he was Governor of Delta State, as charges on such matters had been brought against him in court before and the case was thrown out and he was discharged for lack of prima facie case on any of the 170 count-charges.
According to the Judge, it is only after the EFCC has stated the reason why it had declared Ibori wanted that Ibori could be in a position to claim that he was being invited on old charges or not, but that as EFCC has not stated why he was needed, Ibori could not make such claims. The Judge granted Ibori victory on a second count though; the jurisdiction of the court to hear the case. EFCC had argued that the Federal High Court lacks the jurisdiction to even entertain the suit, but Justice Buba disagreed with EFCC on that.
In a press statement dated Monday 28 June 2010, Ibori’s Media Assistant, Mr. Tony Eluemunor, said that EFCC would be wrong to think that it has won a great victory, because this is not only obviously a pyrrhic victory but has come at a great price to EFCC.
He said that, first, it is now clear to the entire world that Ibori was, in flagrant disobedience to all the known norms of investigation, declared wanted even though EFCC failed to specify why it took that step.
Second, the judgement has given the lie to the newspaper speculations that Ibori was wanted to account for Delta State shares in Oceanic Bank. Some creative journalists even attached the price to the shares: N44 billion Naira.
Third, the judgment also make it clear that EFCC never said that Ibori was wanted in connection with the petition from Chief E.K Clark and other political opponents of Ibori because their petition was about those Oceanic Bank shares, which according to Delta State Government, are still intact, while the proceeds from the 40 percent sold were paid into government coffers in a cheque made out in the name of Delta State Government. So it stands to reason that whenever EFCC re-visits the shares issue, Ibori would return to the court for protection.
Fourth, the above proves that Ibori was not just crying wolf when he accused EFCC of persecution and not prosecution because EFCC failed to state in court why he was declared wanted. This is especially so as Ibori was declared wanted on April 13th at 10 am but EFCC’s letter on invitation was delivered in Ibori’s Lagos House by 4.22 pm same day, as indicated on the letter by the EFCC official that delivered it. Moreover, some officials went about sponsoring media reports that Ibori was being wanted over N44 billion Delta State shares in Oceanic Bank when they knew such to be patently false, Eluemunor added.
Fifth, Ibori won an important victory though when Justice Buba ruled that the court has jurisdiction to hear the enforcement of Fundamental Human Rights case. But this victory is not for Ibori alone but for all Nigerians, just as every Nigerian has been enjoying the great victory Ibori won when the Court of Appeal Kaduna ruled that EFCC should arraign suspects where or near the place a crime was allegedly committed.