The winner of the January 2011 Kogi state People’s Democratic Party PDP governorship primary election,Jibrin Isah Echocho had raised an alarm that the powers that be in the state are after his life for instituting a suit in the court to reclaim his mandate.This was contained in a letter written by his counsel, Wole Olanipekun SAN and addressed to the chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission,EFCC, a copy of which was made available to journalists. It will be recalled that the chairman of the anti graft agent was written to reopen Echocho s trial over his alleged involvement in the Afribank scam.
Responding to this,Olanipekun in his letter stated that the EFCC had on November 21,2010 through his counsel, Rotimi Jacobs and the head of its legal department, M.S Hassan informed a Federal High Court sitting in Lagos that the name of the third accused person which is Echocho be struck out from the charge adding the trial judge,Justice J.T Tsoho had consequently struck out his name from the charge.
He added that Justice O.A Akinlade of the Lagos state High Court had also on June 1,2011 struck out the name of Echocho when they were re-arraigned. Olanipekun in a the four page letter stated that,” Our client is a politician and a leading member of the PDP in Kogi state. Infact, he contested and won the primary election of the party in 2011 and his name was sent to INEC as the PDP s gubernatorial candidate for Kogi state in April 2011 governorship election, but for the fact that the election did not hold in Kogi state due to the judgement of the Federal High Court,Abuja and the Court of Appeal, Abuja which declared that the term of office of the then governor of Kogi state, Alhaji Idris Ibrahim would not lapse until 2012, but the judgement was later set aside by the Supreme Court.
“Our client has since instituted an action,principally against INEC challenging the purported election of Alhaji Idris Wada as the governor of Kogi state in a purported election held during the pendency of INEC s appeal to the Supreme Court and against the background of the Supreme Court judgement to the effect that contrary to the judgement of the Federal High Court and Court of Appeal, Ibrahim Idris ought and should have vacated office on May 28,2011.
“As a result of the proceedings in court at the instance of our client, the ‘the powers that be’ in Kogi state have not only been harassing him to the effect that EFCC should willy- nilly prosecute him. Put bluntly,these ‘powerful’ people have been trying to use a respected commission headed by an equally highly esteemed officer of your status and person to harass, intimidate, molest and persecute our client.
“Fortunately, the EFCC would not bend to their illegal machination and demands. Thus, by a letter dated 23rd April, 2012 signed by Bamanga Bello for the Head of Operations of the EFCC, our client was duly informed that he would be a witness for the EFCC in the prosecution of the accused persons in the Afribank’s criminal trial.
“Despite the foregoing,the same set of ‘powerful’ people keep on continuously and continually harassing and intimidating our client that unless he withdraws his legitimate action at the Federal High Court, the EFCC has been convinced by them to now prosecute him,anytime from now”.
Olanipekun further stated that the only offense Echocho had committed now was that he had the audacity to challenge his stolen mandate in court-A legitimate and constitutional action that he (Echocho) should be praised for rather than being threatened or persecuted.
He therefore called on the commission not to hearken to the illegal and unconstitutional calls of these people especially with the recent judgement in an appeal brought by Alhaji Sani Dododo, seeking to compel the EFCC to investigate and prosecute the former governor of Kebbi State, Alhaji Adamu Aliero, for alleged corruption, where a panel consisting of Justices Jimi Olukayode Bada, Ejembi Eko and Regina Obiageli Nwodo held that , the power to investigate and prosecute any suspect was discretional.
It will be recalled that Governor Idris Wada early last month led a delegation to the national chairman of the PDP,Dr. Bamanga Tukur asking him to prevail on Echocho to withdraw his suit.