•As court shifts hearing till March 4
By Ikecahukwu Nnochiri
The suit seeking an order to compel anti-graft agencies in the country to arrest and prosecute the presidential candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, Atiku Abubakar, suffered a setback on Friday, as the Federal High Court sitting in Abuja, deferred further proceedings in the matter till March 4.
However, trial Justice J. K. Omotosho made an order for the suit which was brought before the court by Minister of State for Labour and Employment, Mr. Festus Keyamo, SAN, to be served on Atiku through substituted means.
Specifically, it gave the plaintiff, Keyamo, SAN, the permission to serve the relevant court processes on the PDP presidential flag-bearer, by pasting them on the wall or dropping them on the floor of his campaign office in Abuja.
The order for substituted service followed alleged inability of the plaintiff to effect personal service of the court papers on Atiku to enable him to prepare his defence to the suit.
With the court ruling, the case will not be heard until after the presidential election billed for February 25.
Keyamo had in the Writ of Summons he filed before the court, insisted that the former Vice President, Atiku, has a case to answer in view of a recent disclosure that he had in the past, colluded to fleece the country of public funds, using what was termed as “Special Purpose Vehicles”, SPVs.
The plaintiff instituted the court action on January 20, after a 72-hour ultimatum he handed to relevant anti-graft agencies to investigate the allegation, expired.
He maintained that the PDP candidate ought to have been invited and quizzed by relevant security agencies, based on indicting revelations and evidence that were released by a whistleblower, Mr. Michael Achimugu.
Cited as 2nd to 4th Defendants in his suit marked: FHC/ABJ/CS/84/2022, are the Code of Conduct Bureau, CCB, the Independent Corrupt Practices and other related offences Commission, ICPC, and the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC.
Keyamo, who is the Director of Public Affairs of the Presidential Campaign Council, PCC, of the ruling All Progressives Congress, APC, is basically seeking a declaration of the court that Atiku, “is under a legal obligation to make available to the 2nd, 3rd and 4th Defendants, for the purpose of aiding their investigation, information available to him in respect of a certain bank account belonging to a company named Marine Float and other accounts of two undisclosed companies, which information he disclosed to a certain close aide of his called Michael Achimugu, as to how the said accounts were used as a :Special Purpose Vehicles’ to secretly divert and misappropriate public funds between 1999 and 2007 when the 1st Defendant served as Vice President of Nigeria.
He further wants; “A declaration of this Honourable Court that the 1st Defendant is under a legal obligation to submit himself to the 2nd, 3rd and 4th Defendants for thorough investigation in connection with information available to him in respect of a certain bank account belonging to a company named Marine Float and other accounts of two undisclosed companies, which information he disclosed to a certain close aide of his called Michael Achimugu, as to how the said accounts were used as a ‘Special Purpose Vehicles’ to secretly divert and misappropriate public funds between 1999 and 2007 when the 1st Defendant served as Vice President of Nigeria.
It will be recalled that Keyamo had in a letter dated January 16, demanded Atiku’s arrest, interrogation and prosecution for alleged corruption an money laundering.
He had threatened to go to court should the security agencies fail to respond to the 72-hour ultimatum.
In a statement of claim he attached to the suit, Keyamo, described himself as a member of the Inner Bar (a Senior Advocate of Nigeria), who has spent over 30 years of his legal practice “fighting for the rights of the downtrodden and the development of constitutional democracy in Nigeria”.
He told the court that he was equally EFCC’s private prosecutor that handled cases involving several Politically Exposed Persons.
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