Ibori: EFCC petitions NJC against Justice Buba

2010-04-17
THE PUNCH Newspaper- Sola Adebayo


The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission has petitioned the National Judicial Council, demanding the probe of Justice I.N. Buba of the Federal High Court, Asaba, for alleged judicial recklessness.



Saturday Punch gathered that in the petition to the NJC, which was authorised by the Chairman of the Commission, Mrs. Farida Waziri, the anti-graft commission alleged that Buba was truncating its onslaught against corrupt practices.



A reliable source told our correspondent that ”the Chairman of the EFCC, Mrs. Farida Waziri, on Thursday directed one of the lawyers of the commission to file a petition against Justice I.N. Buba of the Federal High Court, Asaba. The NJC is expected to receive the petition latest by Friday (yesterday).



”The EFCC wrote the petition to the NJC to protest Justice Buba’s penchant for granting obnoxious injunctions and for frustrating the EFCC in the prosecution of the cases before him in Rivers, Nassarawa and Delta states, where he has served as a judicial officer,” the source said.



The EFCC, in the petition, pointedly accused Buba of frustrating its war against corruption, especially in Rivers, Nassarawa and Delta States.



Justice Buba, who was in charge of the Federal High Court, Port Harcourt, was later transferred to the FHC, Lafia, Nassarawa State.



He was thereafter moved to the newly created FHC, Asaba on April 1 this year, to replace Justice Marcel Awokulehin, who discharged and acquitted former Delta State Governor, Chief James Ibori, of an earlier 170-count charge preferred against him by the EFCC.



It was learnt that the EFCC in its protest to the NJC accused Buba of always granting interim orders and delivering questionable judgements in favour of suspects arrainged in his court by the anti-graft agency.



Specifically, the EFCC, in the petition, written by one of its counsel, whose name was not disclosed to our correspondent, accused Buba of stalling the trial of the former Governor of Rivers State, Dr. Peter Odili, when he was presiding over the FHC, Port Harcourt.



The commission stated in the petition that Buba granted the interim order which eventually shielded Odili from prosecution for alleged corrupt practices.



Besides, the EFCC said Buba was later moved to the FHC, Lafia, where he allegedly quashed all the charges of corruption brought against former Governor Adamu Abdullahi and his aides.



Saturday Punch investigation revealed that the EFCC was angry that Buba had hardly settled down at the FHC, Asaba, when he barred the commission from arresting Ibori, who was declared wanted on Tuesday for prosecution.



The judge reportedly gave the order following a motion for interim injunction brought by Ibori‘s counsel, Mr. Augustine Alegeh, SAN, on Tuesday. He reportedly gave the order barely 24 hours after the EFCC declared Ibori wanted.



When contacted on the telephone, EFCC‘s spokesman, Mr. Femi Babafemi, said he would cross-check the report from his superiors and get back to Saturday Punch.



Babafemi, however, did not call back as promised before press time.



Meanwhile, the EFCC said in a statement on Friday, that Justice Buba had denied issuing any order restraining it from arresting Ibori.



”The 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. Instead, the court only directed the applicants to put the Commission on notice while it refused to grant any interim injunction as sought,” the statement said.



The EFCC, therefore, asked Ibori to come out of hiding and honour its invitation.



 

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