Alex Enumah in Abuja
Justice Inyang Ekwo of a Federal High Court (FHC), Abuja, yesterday, struck out two separate suits filed by a former Senate President, Dr. Bukola Saraki, against the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) and others.
Ekwo struck out the suits for lack of diligent prosecution.
Saraki had dragged the anti-graft agencies to court over their decision to probe his tenure as Governor of Kwara State between 2003 and 2011.
The anti-graft commission was reported to have seized some of his houses in the Ikoyi area of Lagos at the time.
Defendants in the two separate suits marked: FHC/ABJ/CS/507/2019 and FHC/ABJ/CS/508/2019, included the Attorney-General of the Federation (AGF), Inspector-General of Police and State Security Service (SSS), EFCC, Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission (ICPC) and Code of Conduct Bureau (CCB).
Upon resumed hearing in the matters, neither Saraki’s lawyer nor defendants’ counsel were in court for the proceeding.
Ekwo, while stating that the cases were not diligently prosecuted, however, struck out the suits for lack of diligent prosecution.
Saraki had on May 10, 2019, filed the two separate suits before Justice Taiwo Taiwo (rtd ) to challenge the action of the EFCC.
Justice Taiwo, who was the presiding judge at the time, ruled on an ex-parte application filed along with the substantive suits.
The judge ordered the anti-corruption agency (4th respondent) and the other five respondents to the suits to stay action on the probe pending the hearing and determination of the motion on notice filed by the applicant.
The order was granted after Sunday Onubi, Saraki’s lawyer, moved the application, on May 14, 2019.
The court then directed the parties to maintain the status quo by suspending the probe.
But the EFCC later applied that the judge should recuse himself and the matter be transferred to another court.
In turn, Justice Taiwo sent back the case file to the chief judge and the matter was reassigned to Justice Anwuli Chikere for adjudication.
When the matter came up on July 14, 2021 before Justice Chikere, EFCC Counsel, Chile Okoronkwo, complained that Taiwo’s order had hindered the agency “from performing its duty for about two years now.”
The lawyer, who stated that Saraki continued to stand on the order of the court any time he was invited, urged the court to vacate the order.
But the suits were reassigned to Justice Ekwo following the retirement of Chikere.