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Owolabi, ex-Customs boss dragged before EFCC, CCB

By Ise-Oluwa Ige

ABUJA — An anti-corruption crusader, Mr. Emmanuel Nwachukwu, has requested a Federal High Court sitting in Abuja to issue an order of mandamus compelling four anti-graft agencies including the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, to investigate and prosecute a former Comptroller of Customs, Mr. Taiwo Owolabi for alleged fraudulent acquisition of wealth, abuse of office and non-declaration of assets after retirement.

The other agencies of government sought to be compelled to begin immediate investigation and prosecution of the ex-Customs boss include the Code of Conduct Bureau and the Nigeria Police Force.

The Nigeria Customs Service Board, which is also named as a respondent in the mandamus application, is being asked to withhold the entitlements of the ex-Customs boss pending hearing and determination of the case.

The application was filed  16 April 2010  by Mr. Amobi Nzelu, counsel to Nwachukwu.

Nwachukwu said that he approached the court for the mandamus order following the refusal by all the anti-graft agencies to perform their statutory function in spite various petitions written by him gathering dusts on their tables.

Amobi Nzelu has begun the lawsuit by seeking the mandatory permission of the court to go ahead to secure the mandamus order.

Nwachukwu is seeking for leave of the court to apply for the issuance of an order of mandamus compelling EFCC to investigate and prosecute Taiwo Owolabi for his activities as Comptroller-in-Charge of Tin Can Island, Apapa, Idi Iroko and Federal Operations.

Nwachukwu said that he had written to all the agencies listed above to investigate Owolabi for various offences listed in the application, but so far none of them had respondend to his letter.

Other reliefs being sought by Nwachukwu include:

a) Leave to apply for the issuance of an order of mandamus compelling the Nigeria Customs Services Board to investigate the certificate of Comptroller Taiwo Owolabi (rtd) presented to her during his employment and his National Youth Secrice Corps discharge certificate.

b) Leave to apply for the issuance of an order of mandamus compelling the Inspector-General of Police and the Attorney-General of the Federation to arrest, investigate and commence criminal proceedings against Comptroller Taiwo Owolabi for his certificate which he purportedly acquired from the University of Paris and his NYSC discharge certificate.”

c) He also asked the Nigeria Customs Service Board to withold all Owolabi entitlements until the determination of the case.
Nwachukwu stated as grounds upon which he was seeking the reliefs that EFCC has the right under the Act establishing it to investigate the assets Owolabi acquired while working as a Customs officer.

According to him, Owolabi acquired stupendous wealth while he was serving in the Customs.

He listed some of the properties allegedly owned by him in the application.

He stated that Owolabi joined the customs service in 1980 and retired in 2009 during which he served at various formations of the service.

The case is yet to be assigned to a judge.


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