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Perm Sec vs ICPC: Court gives judgment Sept 24

By Ise-Oluwa Ige

ABUJA —A Federal high court sitting in Abuja yesterday fixed September 24, this year for judgment in a lawsuit instituted by Permanent Secretary,  Transport Ministry, Dr Edugie Abigail Abebe against the ICPC over alleged rough treatment meted to her by operatives of the anti-graft agency, few weeks ago.

In the suit, Abebe is begging the court to award N5 billion damages against ICPC.

She also wanted an order compelling the anti-graft agency to tender apology to her and publish same in national newspapers, including Vanguard.

The requested N5billion damages, according to her relief, is to compensate for the bodily and mental harm allegedly suffered by her in the hands of men of the ICPC who allegedly arrested, handcuffed, dragged, disgraced and detained her for an offence which she allegedly knew nothing about.

The high court judge, Justice David Okorowo fixed a date to enter judgment in the case yesterday after parties in the case adopted their written briefs.

Judge to consider all parties involved before verdict

The judge is to consider all the positions of parties in the case before entering his verdict, including Dr Abebe, the ICPC, the Attorney-General of the Federation and one Wellington Nkemadu, an officer of the Special Department of ICPC who was accused of rough-handling the embattled permanent secretary.

Abebe, according to her, was invited by ICPC through a letter dated June 2, 2010 to appear before the ICPC with certain documents on June 6, 2010 for an interview with one Wellington Nkemadu over a fraud allegation being investigated by the commission in an agency where Abebe was identified as one of the custodians of records and in a position to throw light on the allegations.

Upon collecting the letter,  Abebe minuted on it and sent it to the NRC to get the necessary documents requested by ICPC over the matter for presentation on June 7, this year.

But on the same day the ICPC officials brought the letter upon which a serious meeting was already convened by Abebe. She said they insisted on arresting her without waiting till June 7 as stated in their letter.

She said even though she was polite in asking them to go and await the documents they requested for on June 7, she said she was not left alone.

She told the court that after efforts by the operatives who came to arrest her Personal Assistant resulted in a commotion in her office, she said she came out only to be arrested and handcuffed. She said she suffered both bodily and mental injury.

She not only narrated how she visited hospitals to take treatment, she also said she had not been in her right senses since the incident and she was asking for a N5 billion compensation.

But the ICPC, the principal respondent maintained that  Abebe was a liar.

In its counter affidavit, ICPC  denied breaching the fundamental rights of Abebe or causing her any grievous bodily or mental harm to warrant the award of any claim for damages or apology.

ICPC which said Abebe lied, maintained a parallel set of facts which conflict on material facts with her affidavit.

ICPC said both Wellington and Odunze were sent to the office of Abebe to interview her and if necessary give her a letter of invitation to come to their office with relevant documents at a later date over a fraud case.

Specifically, ICPC said it was investigating the petition alleging corrupt practices in the award of N12.3billion contract for the rail track between Jebba and Lagos by the Nigerian Railway Corporation, NRC. NRC was one of the parastatals under the Federal Ministry of Transport. ICPC said it mandated both Wellington and Jennifer Odunze to investigate the case.

It said its two operatives were denied access to Abebe on the excuse that they had no previous appointment while the letter they brought was collected and kept by her Personal Assistant, one Mr Osinachi Ofoedu.

ICPC said when the operatives insisted on seeing  Abebe and warned Osinachi of the consequences of his refusing to allow them access, they were told to do their worst.

According to the anti-graft agency, Abebe emerged from her office and tongue-lashed them, describing them as mere civil servants.
ICPC said it was at this point that the two operatives reported back to the office that both  Abebe and her aide verbally assaulted them and obstructed them in the performance of their duties which led to an issuance of a directive that both should be brought to its office.


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