7 March 2008

Nigeria: EFCC Vows to Arrest Odili

Lagos — THE Economic and Financial Crime Commission (EFCC) said yesterday that the judgment of Federal High Court, Port Harcourt, barring it from arresting and prosecuting former Governor Peter Odili of Rivers State was temporal because "the arrest and prosecution of Odili can only be delayed, it cannot be stopped".

To ensure the former Governor is brought to book, the commission has already commenced the process to appeal against the judgment.

The EFCC which rejected the Wednesday ruling, through a statement signed by its Head, Media and Publicity, Mr. Osita Nwajah said the judgement was capable of setting ominous precedent against investigations of public office holders in the future.

His words: "The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, has expressed dissatisfaction over the March 5, 2008 judgment of the Federal High Court sitting at Federal High Court No. 2, Port Harcourt barring it from arresting and/or prosecuting Dr. Peter Odili, former Governor of Rivers State".

"It would be recalled that the Commission had concluded its investigations on how the erstwhile governor of Rivers State engaged in wanton looting of the treasury of Rivers State between 29th May 1999 and 29th May 2007 and was on the verge of filing charges against him when he proceeded to a Civil Court to restrain the E.F.C.C.

"The judgment is not only unacceptable; it is also capable of setting ominous precedence against investigations of indicted public officials in future".

"In this respect, the Commission is finalizing arrangements geared towards appealing against the judgment. The Commission assures the public that it will utilize all the avenues of seeking legal redress through the hierarchy of Courts in Nigeria with a view to overturn the said Judgment.

"Already the Commission has applied for the entire records of proceedings and the judgment of the lower court to enable it takes further steps in the prosecution of the appeal. It is the official view of the Commission that no person has a legal right against criminal investigation and prosecution.

"This view has been supported by Superior judicial pronouncements by the Supreme Court of Nigeria. While restating its commitments to respect for the rule of law and due process, the Commission wishes to state that the arrest and prosecution of Odili can only be delayed, it cannot be permanently stopped", the statement concluded.

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