LAGOS, SEPTEMBER 5, 2017 – The coast is now clear for Economic and Financial Crimes Commission to resume their investigation as a Federal high court sitting in Lagos south west Nigeria has struck out a fundamental right enforcement suit filed before the court by a Lagos businessman Dr Kennedy Izuagbe perceived to be one of the senate President Dr Bukola Saraki’s cronies,for lack of diligent prosecution.
On four different occasions, particularly on the 2nd and 20th of June,2017, when the case was mentioned,the two parties were not in court neither were they represented by any legal practitioner.
Consequently,the presiding judge, Justice Olawale Faji struck out the suit.
Dr Kennedy Izuagbe, in a bid to forestall his arrest and detention, alongside two other applicants,Carlisle and Investment Limited,and its directors/shareholders, had dragged the Economic and financial crime commission (EFCC) before the court.
Joined as co-defendants in the suit are,Director of Operations of EFCC,Olaolu Adegbite and the Attorney General of the Federation.
In a statement in support of the application to enforce the fundamental right of Dr Izuagbe filed before the court by Mahmud Magaji SAN, Dr Kennedy Izuagbe who is the Managing Director of Carlisle Properties, stated that he was first invited by EFCC on 13 November 2014.and after series of interrogations he did not hear from EFCC until 29 April 2015 when he was again invited.
EFCC requested for some documents including the one relating to how the Senate President,Dr Olusola Saraki purchased his landed properties that Carlisle manages,but he told them that the landed properties documents of Dr Bukola Saraki and information relating thereto can only be properly addressed by Dr Saraki himself.
However, Dr Izuagbe stated that he was surprised to read on pages of Newspapers how EFCC has been manipulating media perception to the effect that the portfolio of his company could have been derived from the public service proceeds of its beneficial owners
On 26th of August 2015 while he was in United States on holiday he was informed that EFCC came to the headquarters of his company with lorry load of policemen and ransacked their offices and carted away several documents.
Consequently,based on the foregoing,he approached the court for an order directing the EFCC from further intimidating and harassing him and the firm’s law abiding staff.
However,in a counter affidavit by EFCC legal officer Israel Akande and filed before the court by Barrister Mutairu Olusesi,EFCC denied almost all the claims of the applicants contained in Dr Izuagbe’s suit.
Akande said the commission is investigating a case of money laundering involving Dr Bukola Saraki where it discovered several lodgements of cash and monetary instruments by companies linked to Dr Bukola Saraki and regular cash in flows into his personal account by his aides and others yet to be identified totaling N15billion and $13million million.
Mr Akande averred further that the situation peaked on 26th October,2009 when 88 different persons paid sums into Dr Bukola Saraki’s account on the same day totaling N80million. An investigation commenced to unravel the sources of the fund.
In the course of investigation, it was discovered that Dr Kennedy Izuagbe was the managing Director of Carlisle Properties and Investment, the company that received the funds from several individuals and over 150 companies. He said the funds were moved to Dr Bukola Saraki’s accounts. Dr Kennedy Izuagbe acting on behalf of his principal,Dr Bukola Saraki directed that the inflows into the company’s account be wired offshore to the beneficial owners.
Based on the investigation being conducted and considering the weighty allegations levelled against Dr Izuagbe,he was invited by the anti-graft agency with a view to obtaining his reaction to the allegations. He made voluntary statement and was asked to report back.
However during the course of investigation he broke the news of his mother’s death and was allowed to go on compassionate grounds,thereafter he went incommunicado and all efforts to get him proved abortive as his phone was no longer through hence hampering the course of investigation.
When all efforts to reach him proved abortive,warrant of arrest was secured for his arrest,
Mr Akande averred further that EFCC is statutorily empowered to cause investigation to be conducted as to whether any person, corporate body or organisation has committed any economic or financial crimes. Therefore,restraining EFCC from further investigations into economic or financial crimes reported to it will send a wrong signals to criminally minded persons who may want to violate the law of the land with impunity and hide under the protection of the court.
He thus urged the court to refuse to accede to the request of the applicants.
Consequently, aftermath of the court decision to strike out the case, base on lack of diligent prosecution the coast is now clear for the EFCC to resume and continue its investigation of Dr Kennedy Izuagbe.