Mr. Achigbu’s claims were made on oath and withdrawal from court does not vitiate them, lawyers say.By Idris Akinbajo
Senior Lawyers, Friday, called for the investigation of Andy Uba, a serving Senator, over his role in the $15 million bribery saga involving the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), and James Ibori, former delta State Governor.
The demand by the lawyers follows claims made by a Lagos businessman, Chibuike Achigbu, that he was the true owner of the money and only asked Mr. Uba to help cleanse the money through the EFCC.
Mr. Achigbu claimed in a sworn affidavit that Mr. Uba called him on Tuesday, to say that it was the money he gave to the Senator in 2007 that is now a subject of litigation between the Federal and Delta state Governments.
Both The Federal Government (FG) and Delta State are asking the Court to return the money to them, after Nuhu Ribadu, the former EFCC boss, and target recipient of the bribe, deposited it with the Central Bank of Nigeria in 2007.
Mr. Ribadu had alleged that Mr. Ibori offered him the money, at the residence of Mr. Uba, so that the EFCC could drop its investigation of the former governor.
In a controversial twist, Mr. Achigbu on Friday withdrew his application from the court.
Lawyers however insist that since Mr. Achigbu claimed on oath that he owned the money, the EFCC had a responsibility to investigate both him and Mr. Uba
Investigate Achigbu now
“It is on oath. It is an affidavit . Under the oath act, it is an offence to swear to a false oath,” Charles Musa, Lagos based lawyer said. “The source of that fund must be investigated. EFCC has a duty to investigate that fund.”
Mr. Musa said all of Mr. Achigbu’s claims on oath, including his relationship with Mr. Uba, need to be investigated by the EFCC. He said Mr. Achigbu’s withdrawal of the application did not cancel the oath his lawyer made on his behalf.
“Since he said he raised the money from friends, the friends also should be asked about their source of funds. What business did they do to earn that kind of income?” he said.
Human rights lawyer, Jiti Ogunye, says the EFCC must investigate not only Mr. Achigbu’s claim but the man himself. Mr. Ogunye argued that the mode by which Mr. Achigbu brought his application meant he believed in his statements.
“Three Senior Advocates of Nigeria who are presumably supremely learned in the law brought this application. What this man wanted the court to believe is that his application was not only a serious one, but contains the truth,” he said.
Mr. Ogunye said the Attorney General of the Federation, Mohammed Adoke, has a duty to ensure that Mr. Uba, and Mr. Achigbu are investigated for their roles in the bribery saga.
“It is the duty of the Attorney General of the Federation to cause an investigation into the matter with a view to see that justice is done,” he said.
Another lawyer, Festus Keyamo, had called for a thorough investigation of the roles played by Mr. Uba and others involved in the bribery scandal.
“Arrest immediately the duo of Andy Uba and Chibuike Achigbu, interrogate them, trace the origin of the $15million, and if it has no origin, charge them with money laundering and/or conspiracy and bribery,” Mr. Keyamo said.
EFCC is mute
Despite being at the centre of the storm, the EFCC is yet to make clear its next actions on the bribery scandal.
Mr. Achigbu had claimed in his affidavit that Ibrahim Lamorde, the EFCC chairman, who was then the Director of
Operations, was the one who received the bribe, from Mr. Uba, on behalf of Mr. Ribadu.
The commission however refused to comment on whether it would investigate Mr. Achigbu and Mr. Uba.
“I cannot comment on it, because the matter is in court,” Wilson Uwujaren, the commission’s spokesman said.
The only matter in court is the appeal filed by the EFCC against a Delta Court’s decision freeing Mr. Ibori of a 170 count charge of corruption filed by the EFCC. One of the counts is that he offered Mr. Ribadu the $15 million bribe.
*Download Mr. Achigbu’s court application here