By Taiye Agbaje
The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), on Thursday, indicated its intention to respond in a suit filed by Festus Keyamo against Alhaji Atiku Abubakar, presidential candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in the Feb. 25 poll.
This was also as Oluwakemi Odogun, lawyer to the Independent Corrupt Practices and other related offences Commission (ICPC), told Justice James Omotosho of a Federal High Court, Abuja of commission’s plan to file its response in the case.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that Keyamo, a spokesperson of the All Progressives Congress (APC) Presidential Campaign Council (PCC), had instituted the suit marked: FHC/ABJ/CS/84/2023 against Abubakar over allegations bordering on money laundering.
Also joined as defendants in the suit include the Code of Conduct Bureau (CCB), ICPC and the EFCC as 2nd to 4th defendants respectively.
Keyamo had earlier asked law enforcement agencies to arrest Abubakar based on an audio recording released by Michael Achimugu, his former aide.
In the audio, the former vice-president was alleged to have explained how shell organisations were set up to divert public funds.
NAN reports that Justice Omotosho had, on March 7, threatened to strike out the suit over Keyamo’s inability to diligently prosecute the case.
Upon resumed hearing, Keyamo’s counsel, Okechukwu Uju-azorji, informed that the matter was slated for hearing.
Uju-azorji said that the former vice president, the 1st defendant, served on him a preliminary objection and that they had responded.
The lawyer said Abubakar, however, was not represented in court today to take his application.
He prayed the court for an adjournment to enable the 1st defendant take his objection.
Counsel to the EFCC, Senami Adeosun,, who also prayed the court for a short time to enable them file their process in the suit, said they were still within time to respond.
Odogun, who represented ICPC, spoke in the same vein.
“We were served on March 15 with the originating processes. We sought an adjournment since we are within time to file,” she said.
The judge adjourned the matter until April 18 for hearing of the pending preliminary objection.
Omotosho, who ordered that hearing notices be issued to Abubakar and CCB, that were not represented in court, directed that parties interested in filing any application should do so before the next adjourned date.
NAN reports that in a preliminary objection filed by Abubakar’s lawyer, Chief Mike Ozekhome, SAN, the ex-vice president sought an order striking out or dismissing the suit for being incompetent and want of locus standi.
The lawyer, who argued that the suit be dismissed for want of jurisdiction, said the case failed to disclose reasonable cause of action against his client.
But Keyamo, in a counter affidavit deposed to by Henry Offiah, a litigation clerk in his chamber, averred that the CCB, ICPC and EFCC failed to respond to the allegations he raised against Abubakar and indeed failed to take any steps to invite or arrest him for the purpose of investigating the allegations against him.
He said on Jan. 16, he wrote a petition to the three agencies requesting them to invite former vice president for the purpose of conducting investigations into the said allegations.
He said but they refused to commence any form of investigation with respect to the allegations leveled against him
Keyamo said he was aggrieved and instituted the present action on Jan. 20.
“The allegations made against the 1st defendant (Abubakar) are the subject matter of the investigation sought by the plaintiff and the plaintiff seeks reliefs against the 1st defendant,” the document read.
He said it was in the interest of justice for the court to dismiss Abubakar’s preliminary objection.(NAN)