The former governor of Delta State, James Ibori has filed a law suit against the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission at the Federal High Court, Asaba, Delta State, asking for N10 billion in damages, for alleged “libel, unlawful harassment and twisted falsehood” by the anti-graft agency.
Ibori, in his suit, is also seeking an order restraining the EFCC from further publishing or causing to be published, any libellous publication against him.
This is just as the EFCC yesterday debunked reports that Justice I.N. Buba of the Asaba High Court had issued an order restraining the anti-graft agency from arresting Ibori.
Also yesterday, the Speaker of the Delta State House of Assembly, Hon. Martin Okonta, along with his principal officials condemned EFCC for declaring Ibori wanted.
The EFCC had on Tuesday declared Ibori wanted for failing to honour its invitation over allegations of fraud being investigated by the agency.
In response, Ibori said he was not on the run and that the Asaba High Court had restrained the commission and its officers from arresting him pending the determination of the substantive motion on notice.
However, the EFCC in its statement yesterday said the alleged court injunction restraining it from arresting Ibori was a fraud.
The EFCC said it had made enquiries from the judge and the court to know whether such order was given and that the response it got was that “no such order was issued by either the judge or the court.”
The statement signed by Femi Babafemi, the commission’s spokesman stated further: “The court only directed the applicants to put the commission on notice while it refused to grant any interim injunction as sought.
“Besides, up till now, no one has served the EFCC any court order; if it is true that one was granted.”
The anti-graft agency urged members of the public to disregard reports on the said restraining order, “as it does not exist.”
Based on this, the EFCC asked Ibori to “come out of hiding and honour the commission’s invitation.”
But the Delta State House of Assembly speaker said EFCC’s action against Ibori “is unacceptable, against the principles of fair hearing and a gross violation of the doctrine of the rule of law.”
Okonta, at a press briefing in Asaba said: “I must confess that an institution like EFCC must comply with the rule of law. This is an obvious violation of the rule of law.
“You are all aware that Ibori was invited to appear on April 17. Today is April 16 and he has already been declared wanted. Is that fair?
“We are condemning the action of EFCC for not following due process and the rule of law.
“We are not saying EFCC should not do its job. What we are saying is for them to comply with due process.
“If you invite an individual to appear before you for an interview, you must allow the time to expire before declaring him wanted.
This obvious violation of laid dawn rules is unacceptable to us.”
Okonta also lambasted Chief Edwin Clark, an Ijaw leader, for allegedly “creating acrimony within the state.”
He added: “The action of E.K. Clark is not only unbearable but unfortunate. That at his age, he is still busy destroying a house (state) he should be helping to build.”