Re: Malabu: Court Refuses to Suspend Trial for EFCC to Hunt Fresh Evidence

Re: Malabu: Court Refuses to Suspend Trial for EFCC to Hunt Fresh Evidence

Dele Oyewale

Premium Times’ story of January 14,  2024 on the application of EFCC’s counsel, Sylvanus Tahir, SAN,  for an adjournment, in the Malabu case before Justice Idris Kutigi of the Federal Capital Territory, FCT,  High Court, Abuja, is shocking.  The story,  which can best be described as jaundiced and shorn of finesse of  objective reporting, was slanted  to portray the EFCC as a desperate Agency of government hunting for evidence in the trial of all the defendants implicated in the OPL 245 oil block awarded to Malabu Oil and Gas Limited in 1998.

The reporter, seeking ways and means of denigrating the Executive Chairman of the EFCC,  Ola Olukoyede, insinuated that he directed the Commission’s counsel to declare government’s interests in the case to secure an adjournment. An adjournment, in any matter,  could be sought by a counsel if there are justifiable grounds for it.  In this particular matter,  Tahir only sought the adjournment for him to sufficiently address the court having been instructed to take over the case owing to some developments  in the matter the EFCC found disconcerting.   Besides,  Premium Times had earlier reported that “EFCC Surrenders, says no evidence of wrongdoing against Adoke, others” , without digging deeper into the whys and wherefores of developments in the case.

The truth of the matter is that the prosecution counsel, Offem Uket, that submitted that the EFCC lacked sufficient evidence to successfully prosecute six of the seven defendants standing trial in the case,  was on a frolic of his own and has since been queried by the Commission.  How on earth will a counsel that had already presented 10 witnesses before the court in a matter that had lasted over four years, suddenly sought termination of the matter in what can be described as a judicial abortion?  This is the crux of the matter and a situation that should ordinarily make Premium Times dig deeper into the “ mystery” unfolding in the case.

It is needful to state that the EFCC has not “surrendered” in any way concerning the Malabu case.  The Executive Chairman  never instructed Uket to throw in the towel in the matter. He assumed office a couple of months ago and had not been briefed on what Uket came to the court with. As a Chief Executive,  it is simply preposterous to be portrayed in bad light over a matter he had not addressed.  The Commission is awaiting the ruling of His Lordship on the matter.  The public has a right to be properly informed about the position of the EFCC and its leadership on this issue. There is no compromise of any sort anywhere and there won’t be at any time. 

For now, Premium Times should sheathe its sword and allow the court’s proceedings run its full course.

*Dele Oyewale is Head,  Media & Publicity of the EFCC.

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