By Ise-Oluwa Ige & Luka Binniyat
ABUJA â€” An Abuja-based human rights activist and legal practitioner, Chief Udofia Akpan, yesterday requested a Federal High Court sitting in Abuja to issue an order of mandamus compelling EFCC to, forthwith, begin the prosecution of the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Mr Dimeji Bankole and his deputy, over alleged fraudulent execution of a N2.3 billion car purchase contract.
He is urging the court to compel EFCC to begin the prosecution of the House leadership based on the report of its wholesale investigation earlier conducted into the transaction.
The said contract, it would be recalled, was for the purchase of 316 units of 407 Peugeot saloon car for members of the House of Representatives. It was executed in 2008.
Specifically, Udofia is accusing the House leadership of inflating the car contract by N421.486 million and that the Peugeot Automobile of Nigeria Limited, PAN, is covering up both Bankole and his deputy in the deal.
In his originating motion now filed at the registry of the Abuja Federal High Court, he is also asking the high court to issue a separate order compelling Bankole, his deputy, Nafada and PAN to return to the Federal Government treasury a total N421.486 million, and the sum being an alleged proceed of fraud
Recall that Lagos lawyer, Mr Festus Keyamo, was the first to raise eyebrow over the alleged scam.
He did a petition against Speaker Bankole detailing how much each of the cars was worth and how much was paid as Value Added Tax and how much was illegally built into each of the cars purchased for the House members.
But soon as the seller of the car, PAN, denied the figure quoted by Keyamo and released a different price list for the cars, the case wobbled and heat shifted from the leadership of the House to the accuser, Keyamo.
Heads also rolled over the allegation.
But several months after the rumble caused by the alleged car scam had abated, a fresh push to probe and prosecute Speaker Bankole and his Deputy erupted again few weeks ago by those suspected to be hi â€˜enemiesâ€ in the House.
The matter got to the climax yesterday with the filing of a lawsuit by Udofia seeking the prosecution of S;peaker Bankole and his Deputy.
It is not clear whether Udofiaâ€™s suit has the financial backings of the anti_Bankoleâ€™s lawmakers
But the evidence against the leadership of the House which Udofia was mouthing was not totally different from what Keyamo was bandying around during the time the crisis first started.
Udofia is therefore the first lawyer in the country to take a definitive legal step to challenge the leadership of the House of Representatives over the execution of the car contract.
In the suit filed by the human rights activist with registration number: FHC/ABJ/CS/409/2010, he named the House of Representatives, Peugeot Automobile of Nigerian Limited (PAN), the Inspector General of Police (IGP), the Attorney General ofÂ the Federation (AGF), and the Independent Corrupt Practices Commission (ICPC) as defendants.
Besides the mandamus order, he is seeking an order of court declaring the purchaseÂ of Peugeot 407 by Bankole, Nafada and House of Representatives to tune of N2.359 billion as being â€œriddled with corruption and unbridled gratification and that same was done without lawful authority, illegal, void and fraudulentâ€.
He also wanted a declaration that the purchase of the cars, â€œwas not only irresponsible, fraudulent and abuse of power by Bankole and Nafada, but that a whopping N421. 48 millionÂ of tax payersâ€™ money is missing and unaccounted for under the watch of Bankole and his deputy.
Apkan is seeking that the Court declares that the total sum of N1117.974 millionÂ was paid as Value Added Tax on (VAT) on the contract and that a subsequentÂ direct payment of another N117.974 to FIRS by the House of Representatives was fraudulent.
The plaintiff also wanted an Order of mandamus directing Bankole andÂ PAN to refund the sum of N421.486 million being the difference in value in the transaction to the coffers of government within seven days.
He also wanted the court to pronounce as unlawful and unconstitutional the alleged reluctance of the EFCCÂ and the AGF to prosecute Bankole andÂ Nafada.
It would be recalled that Waziri had sometimes explained to the media that he submitted the commissionâ€™s investigation report on the N2.3billion car contract to the Presidency for approval.
Udofia agued that nothing in the EFCC Act, 2004 requires the EFCC to submit investigation report on the N2.3 billion car scam to the Presidency for â€œapprovalâ€Â as the Chairman of the Commission before she could prosecute.
He also wanted the Order of Mandamus directing the EFCC to commence legal proceedings based on the EFCC investigation report on the N2.3 billion car saga without delay.
He also wanted an order of mandamus directing ICPC,AGF and the EFCC to jointly investigate and possibly prosecute the Speaker of the Reps and the rest for what he said, are â€œmassive and gross abuse of powerâ€, urgently.
The lawyer also sought for an order of mandamus directing the EFCC to file charges against Bankole â€œwithout further delay or consultation with any member of the political class.
Finally, he wanted the leadership of the House of Representatives to publish a public apology to Nigerians in 10 national newspapers over their conduct in the said transaction.