The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), on Thursday, declared its readiness to respond in a suit filed by the spokesman of the All Progressives Congress (APC) Presidential Campaign Council, Festus Keyamo, against the presidential candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Atiku Abubakar, over alleged money laundering.
This is just as the lawyer to the Independent Corrupt Practices and other related offences Commission (ICPC), Oluwakemi Odogun, told Justice James Omotosho of a Federal High Court sitting in Abuja of the commission’s plan to file its response in the case.
Keyamo, who is the Minister of State for Labour and Employment, had instituted the suit marked: FHC/ABJ/CS/84/2023 against Atiku over allegations bordering on money laundering.
Also joined as defendants in the suit were the Code of Conduct Bureau (CCB), ICPC, and the EFCC as 2nd to 4th defendants, respectively.
Keyamo had earlier asked law enforcement agencies to arrest Atiku based on an audio recording released by Michael Achimugu, his former aide.
In the audio, the former Vice-President was alleged to have explained how shell organisations were set up to divert public funds.
Justice Omotosho had, on March 7, threatened to strike out the suit over Keyamo’s inability to diligently prosecute the case.
Upon resumed hearing, Keyamo’s counsel, Okechukwu Uju-azorji, told the court that the matter was slated for hearing.
Uju-azorji said Atiku, the 1st defendant, served on him a preliminary objection, noting that they had responded.
The lawyer said the PDP presidential candidate, however, was not represented in court on Thursday to take his application.
He prayed the court for an adjournment to enable the 1st defendant take his objection.
Counsel to the EFCC, Senami Adeosun, who also prayed the court for a short time to enable them file their process in the suit, said they were still within time to respond.
Odogun, who represented ICPC, spoke in the same vein.
“We were served on March 15 with the originating processes. We sought an adjournment since we are within time to file,” she said.
The judge, therefore, adjourned the matter until April 18, 2023, for hearing of the pending preliminary objection.
Justice Omotosho, who ordered that hearing notices be issued to Atiku and CCB that were not represented in court, directed that parties interested in filing any application should do so before the next adjourned date.
In a preliminary objection filed by Atiku’s lawyer, Mike Ozekhome, SAN, the former Vice President sought an order striking out or dismissing the suit for being incompetent and want of locus standi.
The lawyer, who argued that the suit be dismissed for want of jurisdiction, said the case failed to disclose a reasonable cause of action against his client.
But Keyamo, in a counter affidavit deposed to by Henry Offiah, a litigation clerk in his chamber, averred that the CCB, ICPC, and EFCC failed to respond to the allegations he raised against Atiku and failed to take any steps to invite or arrest him for the purpose of investigating the allegations against him.
He said on January 16, he wrote a petition to the three agencies requesting them to invite the former Vice President for the purpose of conducting investigations into the said allegations.
The APC campaign spokesperson said they also refused to commence any form of investigation with respect to the allegations leveled against him
Keyamo said he was aggrieved and instituted the present action on January 20, 2023.
“The allegations made against the 1st defendant (Atiku) are the subject matter of the investigation sought by the plaintiff and the plaintiff seeks reliefs against the 1st defendant,” the document read.
He said it was in the interest of justice for the court to dismiss Abubakar’s preliminary objection.