By Ikechukwu Nnochiri
ABUJA—Justice Abdul Kafarati of a Federal High Court in Abuja, Thursday, issued an order of perpetual injunction restraining the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, from prosecuting the Managing Director of Capital Oil and Gas Limited, Patrick Ifeanyi Ubah and his company over their alleged complicity in petroleum subsidy fraud.
The court further barred the Inspector General of Police, IGP, and the Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Mohammed Bello Adoke, SAN, from taking any step towards prosecuting the applicants.
Besides, Justice Kafarati, while delivering judgment in a fundamental rights enforcement suit marked: FHC/ABJ/CS/284/2013 filed by Ubah and his company, faulted a recent invitation sent to the applicants by the EFCC.
Consequently, he granted four out of five prayers the applicants raised in their suit which challenged the decision of the anti-graft agency to re-investigate the complaint that Ubah and his company were involved in the petroleum subsidy fraud.
Ubah and his company had argued that it was wrong for the EFCC, IGP, AGF and any other agency of the government to want to prosecute them over the same issue on which a Federal High Court in Lagos had exonerated them by virtue of its February 18, 2013 judgment in suit number: FHC/CS/07/2013 and a report by the House of Representatives committee which investigated the fuel subsidy fraud.
They also relied on a letter dated February 12, 2013 written by the Police Special Fraud Unit, D Department to the Minister of Finance, clearing them of any criminal complicity in the allegation of subsidy fraud made against them.
Justice Kafarati declared that the February 18 judgment, the House of Representatives’ committee report and the police letter of February 12 “collectively tantamount to a complete and final exoneration of any criminal offence with regard to application for receipt of subsidy payment under the Federal Government of Nigeria Petroleum Support Fund , PSF, scheme.”
The judge maintained that in view of the applicants’ complete exoneration from any reasonable suspicion of commission of any criminal offence under the subsidy scheme, the threat of detention, arrest and prosecution by the respondents or any other agency of the government, amounted to an infraction of the applicants’ fundamental rights enshrined in Sections 35 (1)(c) and 36(5) of the Constitution.
He therefore made an order of perpetual injunction restraining the respondents from “further action with respect to the allegation of subsidy fraud which have already been investigated by relevant agencies of the government, House of Representatives Committee and from which the applicants have been cleared of any reasonable suspicion of commission of criminal offence and in respect of which the judgment of the FHC.”
Nevertheless, the judge refused the 1st applicants’ prayer for a declaration that the current move by the respondents to prosecute him, intended to frustrate his political ambition which include his plan to run for gubernatorial election in Anambra state, is illegal and amounted to an infringement of his fundamental rights.