By Austin Ogwuda and Emman Ovuakporie
Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, (EFCC) debunked claims in some media reports on Thursday that Justice I.N. Buba of the Federal High Court, sitting in Asaba Delta State issued an order restraining the anti-graft agency from arresting former Delta State governor, Chief James Onanefe Ibori.
The embattled ex governor has also sued the EFCC for N10b as damages for declaring him wanted, even as the Speaker of Delta state House of Assembly, Mr Martin Okonta condemns the anti graft bodyâ€™s action on Ibori..
In a statement signed by spokesman of EFCC, Femi Babafemi, the anti-graft body described the reports as mere blackmail to distract the work of the commission.
Part of the statement reads: â€œThe Commission wishes to state that following the reports in the media over the purported interim injunction, we have since made enquiries from the judge and the court to know whether such order was given. The response we got was that no such order was issued by either the judge or the court.
â€œInstead, the court only directed the applicants to put the Commission on notice while it refused to grant any interim injunction as sought.
â€œBesides, up till now, no one has served the EFCC any court order if it is true that one was granted. As such, members of the public should disregard reports on the court order as it does not exist.
â€œOn the basis of this, the EFCC insists Chief Ibori should come out of his hiding and honour the Commissionâ€™s invitationâ€ the statement added.
However, in his statement to the press, the Speaker said that although the House was not against EFCC performing their statutory function , â€œdue process was not followed in the Iboriâ€™s case, saying that it was wrong for the Commission to declare him wanted when the actual date he was invited to appear before them had not expiredâ€.
The Speaker relied on the letter of invitation contained in the advertorial by Ibori over the issue, while dismissing the EFCCâ€™s claim that they had been making frantic efforts through state government officials to reach Ibori as bunkum.
Ibori, in his suit numbered FHC/ASB/CS/40/1010 filed before the Federal High Court Asaba through his counsel, Ekemejero Ohwovoriole is praying the court for:
*a declaration that the defendants publication dated 13th April 2010 headlined â€œWhy We Are Looking For Ibori â€“ EFCCâ€ predicated on twisted falsehood is libelous and defamatory of the plaintiff.
*N10 billion as damages for the libel published by the defendant.
*An order of perpetual injunction restraining the defendant, its agents or servants from further publishing or causing to be published any libelous publication about the plaintiff.
No date has been fixed for hearing of the suit.