By Alex Enumah
The Abuja Division of the Federal High Court, on Monday, made an order restraining the Edo State Government from arresting and prosecuting a former Edo State Governor and National Chairman of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Comrade Adams Oshiomhole, over indictment in a white paper submitted to the state government.
Justice Ahmed Mohammed made the order while delivering ruling in an exparte application brought by Oshiomhole to that effect.
Oshiomhole was indicted by a panel of inquiry set up by the state government to investigate corruption allegations against the former governor.
The inquiry relates to the construction and supply of equipment for the Edo Specialist Hospital, located in the state capital.
Chairman of the Judicial Panel of Inquiry and Edo State Commissioner for Justice, Justice James Oyomire, in a white paper report submitted to Governor Godwin Obaseki mid last month recommended the arrest and prosecution of Oshiomhole over alleged breach of the state’s Public Procurement Law.
However, the APC National Chairman decided to go to court to stop his arrest and prosecution by the Obaseki’s administration on corruption allegations emanating from a panel of inquiry.
Apart from the Edo state government, other respondents in the suit filed on his behalf by his lawyer, Mr West Idahosa include; the Edo State Attorney- General and Commissioner for Justice, James Oyomire, the Inspector General of Police and the Department of State Services (DSS).
Idahosa, in an exparte application prayed the court to stop the planned arrest and prosecution of Oshiomhole on account of the said white paper wherein his client was indicted of corruption.
However, lawyer to the Edo State Government, Mr Alex Ejeiseme, SAN, who was in court when the matter was called informed the court of a preliminary objection he filed against the granting of the prayers in the exparte application.
The senior lawyer objected to the hearing of the case by the court on the grounds that the court has no jurisdiction to hear the matter.
However after listening to parties in the case, the presiding judge ordered respondents in the matter to stay action in respect of the case pending the determination of the issue of jurisdiction.
”An interim order is hereby made restraining the prosecution of the applicant pursuant to the report submitted to the 1st to3rd respondents or any white paper, pending the determination of the issue of jurisdiction raised in the 1st to 4th respondents notice preliminary objection”, the judge held.
Justice Mohammed also directed Oshiomhole’s lawyer to serve all the respondents in the suit all court processes within 48 hours and adjourned till June 17, 2020.
Recall that the panel in the white paper said the award of the contract for the construction of the hospital was fraught with breaches of the state’s procurement laws.
Oyomire while submitting the report noted that the procurement law clearly states that any contractor working on a government project should not receive more than 25 per cent upfront payment upon contract award, which he said Oshiomhole’s administration allegedly contravened.
Following their indictment of Oshiomhole, the panel went ahead to recommend amongst others the institution of civil and criminal actions against those found culpable in the breach of the law.