Attorney General of the Federation (AGF) and Minister of Justice, Mr. Mohammed Adoke
By Tobi Soniyi
The Attorney General of the Federation (AGF) and Minister of Justice, Mr. Mohammed Adoke, in a sworn affidavit deposed to at a Federal High Court, Abuja, has stated that oil marketers indicted by the report of the House of Representatives Ad Hoc Committee on the Monitoring of the Fuel Subsidy Scheme will not be prosecuted.
The AGF made this known as the third defendant in a suit involving Integrated Oil and Gas Limited against the House of Representatives, the suspended chairman of the ad hoc committee, Hon. Farouk Lawan and the Federal Government.
In the said case, Integrated Oil and Gas Wednesday secured an interim injunction which stopped both the House and the Federal Government from acting on the committee’s report, pending the determination of a case filed by the company.
In the counter affidavit deposed to on his behalf by Mr. Ayotunde Ogunleye, a lawyer from the chambers of Chief Adegboyega Awomolo, the AGF stated that “the report of the committee which is a fact-finding committee will be studied and given to the relevant agencies of government but (government) will not prosecute or take legal action against the person or persons indicted by the report.”
In the ruling, Justice Gladys Olotu gave the interim order following an agreement among counsel to the parties to the suit that their clients would not do anything that would affect the case before the court.
While explaining the implication of the court order to journalists, lead counsel to the AGF, Awomolo, said, “We have reached a no arrest, no detention, no prosecution, no refund agreement, pending the determination of the suit.”
The House of Representatives and Lawan were listed as the first and second defendants, while Awomolo and Mr. Damien Dodo represented the AGF.
The committee had in its report asked Integrated Oil and Gas, which belongs to former Minister of Interior, Captain Emmanuel Iheanacho, to refund N13.2 billion paid as subsidy to the Federal Government for petroleum products it imported between 2006 and 2011 on the grounds that the amount was not sustainable.
However, the company was dissatisfied with the recommendations of the ad hoc committee and instructed its lawyer, Tayo Oyetibo, to file a suit. It asked the court to, among other demands, nullify the committee’s report because it was not given a fair hearing before the committee came to its conclusion.
It also asked the court to restrain the House of Representatives, AGF, Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) and the Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission (ICPC) from acting on the report.
In the interim, the company asked for an order of interlocutory injunction restraining the AGF, EFCC, ICPC and the Inspector General of Police from acting on the report of the ad hoc committee pending the final determination of the case filed by it.
At the hearing of the case, arguments ensued on whether the court could stop the anti-graft agencies from carrying out their statutory duties. At a point, Justice Olotu excused the counsel and gave them twenty minutes to confer and agree on the position to be adopted by the court.
All the counsel consequently agreed that no action would be taken against the company until the court has given final judgment in the case.
Justice Olotu commended the lawyers for their maturity and consequently issued an order based on the agreement stopping the defendants from acting on the report as it affected Integrated Oil and Gas, pending the time she would give a final ruling.
In an affidavit he deposed to, the managing director of the company, Mr. Anthony Ihenacho, said that his company did not collect any subsidy for petroleum products not imported.
He said, “Up till date, the applicant does not know how the 1st and 2nd (ad hoc committee and Farouk Lawan) respondents arrived at their decision that the sum of N13.2 billion out of the subsidy funds received by his company was not sustainable and therefore not good enough to attract any subsidy.”
He said that the findings of the committee violated the principle of natural justice and should be nullified.
Justice Olotu adjourned further hearing in the matter until October 18, 2012 after she granted an application for accelerated hearing of the case.