EFCC justifies Justice Olotu’s N2bn probe

The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission has told a Federal High Court in Abuja that it was investigating a compulsorily-retired judge of the Federal High Court, Justice Gladys Olotu, over allegation that she had over N2bn in various bank accounts.

A non-governmental organisation, Civil Society Network Against Corruption, had petitioned the EFCC alleging that Olotu and two other judges of the Federal High Court were holding “huge sums of money” in various bank accounts.

The bank accounts were said to be within and outside the country as the judges were also accused of having assets and investment interests both within and outside Nigeria, contrary to provisions of the Code of Conduct for Judicial Officers.

The EFCC confirmed that it had invited Olotu for investigation in a counter-affidavit dated April 1, 2014, which it filed in opposition to Olotu’s suit.

The retired judge had, through her counsel, Mr. Okey Obikeze (SAN), on March 24, 2014, instituted the fundamental human rights suit to restrain the EFCC and other security and anti-corruption agencies from investigating her.

The commission, in its counter-affidavit filed before Justice Adeniyi Ademola, denied being instigated by the National Judicial Council and the Attorney-General of the Federation against Olotu.

It said the CSNAC’s petition against Olotu, over which it was investigating her, was dated September 10, 2013.

Its counter-affidavit deposed to by its investigating officer, Habufari Yahaya, read in part, “That contrary to paragraph 12 of the applicant’s affidavit, the 1st respondent’s (the EFCC) investigation was in response to a petition from the Civil Society Network Against Corruption dated September 10, 2013.

“That I know for fact that in the course of investigation, certain issues arose for further clarification which had to do with documents and the applicant therefore requested for time to bring them and she was obliged.”

The anti-graft agency denied Olotu’s allegation that she was humiliated or detained on honouring its invitation.

The counter-affidavit also read, “That contrary to paragraph 14 of the applicant’s application, the applicant was interviewed on March 18, 2014 and asked to return on April 1, 2014 with some documents to clarify issues arising from the previous interview. She was never humiliated or detained.

“That the 1st respondent was only carrying out its statutory power of investigation.”

The agency said it had not breached the fundamental human rights of the retired judge, as she had only filed the suit to seek protection from being investigated.

The counter-affidavit further read, “I know for a fact that the applicant’s fundamental human rights have in no way been breached or jeopardised.

“That I know for a fact that the applicant is seeking the protection of the courts from investigation.

“That the applicant cannot use the instruments of the law to shield herself from being investigated. That it will be in the interest of justice to grant the applicant’s application as it relates to the 1st respondent.”

The said petition was said to have been signed by Olanrewaju Suraju, but the commission did not give details of the petition in its counter-affidavit.

The petition had alleged that Justice Olotu “holds various accounts in GTB, Access Bank, First Bank (United Kingdom) and investment interests in various companies and various property in Abuja, Lagos and Benin and is alleged to be worth over N2bn.”

Olotu was recommended by the National Judicial Council for a compulsory retirement in February 2014 on the grounds of gross misconduct. President Goodluck Jonathan had since ratified the NJC’s recommendation.

The retired judge subsequently filed a fundamental human rights enforcement suit seeking to restrain the EFCC, the Independent Corrupt Practices and other related offences Commission and other security agencies from further “harassing” her with arrests or investigations.

She had in her supporting affidavit accused the NJC and the Attorney-General of the Federation of instigating the EFCC along with other anti-corruption and security agencies against her.

She said both the NJC and the Attorney General of the Federation, Mr. Mohammed Adoke, were using the agencies to harass her because she dared to challenge her compulsory retirement in court.

But the NJC had through its counsel, Mr. Philips Jimoh-Lasisi (SAN), denied the allegation and filed a separate application, urging the court to compel Olotu to appear in court to face cross-examination over her claim.

The retired judge’s lawyer had indicated to oppose the application, insisting that it was not part of the procedure of such suit to compel her client to be cross-examined personally in court.

The retired judge had earlier filed a separate suit before the same judge seeking an order nullifying NJC’s recommendation for her compulsory retirement and the subsequent acceptance of the recommendation by President Goodluck Jonathan.

In her affidavit supporting the fundamental rights enforcement suit, Olotu averred that her being invited, detained and interrogated by the EFCC in Abuja on March 18, 2014, followed an earlier threat by Adoke and the NJC to deal with her for challenging her compulsory retirement in court.

The plaintiff listed the EFCC, the ICPC, the State Security Service, the police and the Code of Conduct Bureau, which are the first to the fifth respondents in the suit, as the agencies being used against her by the NJC and Adoke.

She insisted that her invitation by the EFCC on March 18, 2014, was orchestrated by Adoke and the NJC along with 10 other respondents.

She said after the EFCC had invited her, officers of the ICPC, SSS, the police, and the Code of Conduct Bureau were now on her trail making it difficult for her to move freely and to freely and safely stay in her residence.

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