The Federal High Court (FHC), Abuja, on Wednesday quashed two separate lawsuits filed by a former Senate president, Bukola Saraki, against the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) and others.
Inyang Ekwo, the judge, in a short ruling, quashed the claims for lack of diligent prosecution.
As hearings on the matters resumed, neither Mr. Saraki’s lawyers nor those of the defendants were in court for the proceedings.
Mr. Ekwo therefore maintained that the absence of the lawyers demonstrated that the cases were not being prosecuted diligently.
Consequently, it removed them for lack of diligent prosecution.
The Nigerian News Agency (NAN) reports that Mr. Saraki, the applicant, filed the complaints marked: FHC/ABJ/CS/507/2019 and FHC/ABJ/CS/508/2019 at the FHC.
In the lawsuits, the Federal Attorney General’s Office (AGF), the General Inspectorate of Police and State Security (SSS) are accused from 1st to 3rd respectively.
Others are the EFCC, the Independent Commission for Corrupt Practices and Other Related Crimes (ICPC) and the Code of Conduct Office (CCB) as 4th to 6th respondents respectively.
The former Senate president filed the lawsuits following the EFCC’s decision in 2019 to investigate Saraki’s earnings between 2003 and 2011 when he was governor of Kwara.
The anti-corruption commission was then reported to have seized some of their houses in the Ikoyi area of Lagos.
However, Mr. Saraki, on May 10, 2019, filed the two separate lawsuits before a judge, Taiwo Taiwo (rtd), to challenge the EFCC’s action.
Mr. Taiwo, who was the presiding judge at the time, ruled on an ex parte request filed together with the substantive claims.
The judge ordered the anti-corruption agency (fourth defendant) and the other five defendants in the lawsuits to stay the investigation action pending the hearing and determination of the motion on notice filed by the petitioner.
The order was granted after Sunday Onubi, Saraki’s lawyer, filed the application on May 14, 2019.
The court had ordered the parties to maintain the status quo by suspending the investigation.
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But the EFCC then requested that the judge abstain and the matter be transferred to another court.
Mr. Taiwo returned the case file to the chief judge and the matter was reassigned to Anwuli Chikere (now retired) for adjudication.
When the matter arose on 14 July 2021 before Ms Chikere, EFCC lawyer Chile Okoronkwo complained that Mr Taiwo’s order had prevented the agency “from doing its duty for about two years”. .
The lawyer, who claimed that Mr. Saraki continued to rely on the court order every time he was invited, urged the court to set aside the order.
But the suits were reassigned to Mr. Ekwo after Ms. Chikere’s retirement.