TVC N. The Federal Government has gone back to the drawing board to re-strategize on its prosecution of corruption-related cases. This followed its recent losses, one after the other, of four high profile corruption-related cases in court.
First was the unfreezing, on the order of a Federal High Court, Lagos, of the account of Lagos lawyer Mike Ozekhome (SAN), which is said to hold a sum of N75million professional fee paid to him by Governor Ayo Fayose of Ekiti State.
The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) had alleged that the money was proceeds of corruption. Next was the discharge and acquittal of Justice Adeniyi Ademola and his wife of charges of corruption and possession of firearms filed against them.
The initial forfeiture of a sum of $5m found in an account of former First Lady, Dame Patience Jonathan was similarly reversed on the order of another court, while the Minister of Niger Delta in the Jonathan administration, Elder Godsday Orubebe was also discharged and acquitted after Abubakar Malami, the Attorney General of the federation, told the Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission (ICPC) that the case filed against the former minister did not exist.
The ICPC had accused him of diverting N1.97 billion meant for the compensation of owners of property on the Eket Urban section of the East-West road in Eket, Akwa Ibom State.
It was gathered that government was shocked by the development which it perceived as a terrible blow to its anti-corruption crusade.
Vice President Yemi Osinbajo at the weekend met with the Attorney-General of the Federation, Mallam Abubakar Malami and heads of other prosecuting agencies on the situation.
These are the Director-General of the Department of State Security Service (DSS), Mr. Lawan Daura, Acting Chairman of EFCC, Mr. Ibrahim Magu, Chairman, Code of Conduct Bureau (CCB), Mr. Sam Saba.
Although the Chairman of the Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission (ICPC), Mr. Ekpo Nta was away on official assignment, the agency was represented. Osinbajo directed the agencies to henceforth ensure a water-tight prosecution of corruption suspects.
He also asked the heads of the agencies to cooperate with the bench in handling all such matters.
Government, sources said, was disturbed that vital cases were lost on technical grounds to some suspects.
A highly-placed source said: “Losing four or five high profile cases in quick succession was seen as a setback for the anti-graft war.
“As a Professor of Law of Evidence, Osinbajo had a review session with all the heads of prosecuting agencies on what technically went wrong on some of these cases.
“Although the government has filed appeal on the rulings of the affected courts, the VP stepped in to arrest the slide.
“The heads of the agencies have been directed to ensure diligent investigation, water-tight prosecution and place sufficient evidence before the court.
“All constraints affecting the legal team will be addressed accordingly.”
Responding to a question, the source added: “The VP asked the agencies to collaborate among themselves instead of petty rivalry.
“He also told them to cooperate with the bench on all matters before the court.”
A top source said: “The presidency will now take more than a passing interest in all anti-graft cases. There will be effective monitoring and constant review.
“Save the case of former Minister of Niger Delta Affairs, Mr. Godsday Orubebe, the government will file appeal against most of the rulings of the court on the lost cases.”