Attorney General Of The Federation Takes Over Criminal Case Instituted Against Lawyer Who Dragged Akpabio To EFCC
The Attorney General of the Federation on Thursday 14th January, 2016 took over the case instituted by the Nigeria Police Force against Mr Leo Ekpenyong, a human rights lawyer who has written series of petitions against the former Governor of Akwa Ibom State and Senate Minority Leader, Sen Godswill Akpabio.
The case which was filed in 2015 at the Upper Area Court in Abuja followed a petition by the sacked Chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), Mr Ibrahim Lamorde, to the Police against Mr Ekpenyong.
Following the refusal by the then EFCC Chairman to act on the petitions against Akpabio, Mr Ekpenyong had in a petition to President Muhammadu Buhari passed a Vote of No Confidence on Lamorde and demanded his removal as the Chairman of the EFCC. Ekpenyong further granted an interview on the African Independent Television (AIT) where he accused Lamorde of having a compromised relationship with Akpabio.
Angered by the lawyer’s actions against him, Lamorde wrote a petition against Ekpenyong upon which the Police arraigned him before an Abuja Upper Area Court on a two count charge of; “giving false information” and “injurious falsehood”.
When the case came up in Court on Thursday, a Law Officer from the Office of the Attorney General of the Federation, Mr Habila Jonathan, announced his appearance in the matter and informed the Court that the Attorney General has taken over the matter. The Police prosecutor in an attempt to resist the taking over of the case insisted that the Mr Jonathan should identify himself as he does not believe that he was from the Attorney General’s Office.
However, the objection of the Police prosecutor was rejected by the Upper Area Court Judge, Justice Yusuf Gagarku. The judge stated that “the Attorney General is a law unto himself” based on the provisions of the Constitution and that even the court cannot question his powers. The Judge further stated that there was no reason to doubt the identity of the Law Officer, Mr Habila Jonathan.
Surprisingly, a media Aide to the former Governor, Mr Anietie Ekong, attended the Court session on Thursday and was seen discussing with the Investigation Police Officer (IPO), one DSP Ibe. The IPO according to sources, has links with Sen Akpabio. This seems to confirm the allegation by Mr Ekpenyong that the former Governor of Akwa Ibom State has a relationship with the sacked EFCC Chairman who is the complainant in the case.
Reacting to the development, a human rights lawyer and Convener of the Coalition of Human Rights Defenders (COHRD), Mr Inibehe Effiong, expressed delight with the decision of the Attorney General to intervene in the case in the interest of justice.
“This is a great feat for the anti-corruption strides of the administration of President Buhari. The message today is that elements like Akpabio who believe they can use their illicit lucre and their moles in the EFCC and the Police to evade justice and silence whistle blowers will not prevail in this new regime of change”.
“The new EFCC leadership should review the avalanche of corruption allegations hanging on the neck of Sen Akpabio and bring him to justice. What Dasuki did with the defence funds is a child’s play compared to what Akpabio did with Akwa Ibom State resources. The Attorney General should enter a nolle prosequi in the matter in the interest of justice”.
The case has been adjourned to the 2nd March, 2016 to enable the Police transfer the case file to the Attorney General.