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Published On: Sat, Feb 23rd, 2013

Court Orders EFCC to Produce Property Recovered from Cecilia Ibru

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Erstwhile Chief Executive Officer of Oceanic Bank Plc, Mrs. Cecilia Ibru

A Federal High Court sitting in Lagos has issued a three-day ultimatum to the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) to provide details of properties recovered from erstwhile Chief Executive Officer of Oceanic Bank Plc, Mrs. Cecilia Ibru, as demanded by Mr. Boniface Okezie, president of the Progressive Shareholders Association of Nigeria.
Okezie had applied to the court to force the EFCC to furnish him with all the necessary information concerning assets seized from Ibru, whose former bank has now been bought over by Eco Bank.
Delivering the ruling on Friday, Justice Mohammed Idris who presided over the case asked the country’s Attorney-General to obey the court ruling since he was joined in the case.

Justice Idris, in his ruling, said the Freedom of Information Law under which Mr. Okezie applied required all public institutions to disclose information about their structure and process.
“By the provision of the FOI Act, where an information is sought, public institutions are required to deliver same within seven days. Where, however, it declines, it must elicit valid grounds for its refusal in writing to the applicant within seven days,” he said
“In the extant suit, it appears that the AG (Attorney General) had not declined to provide the required information but had sought for adequate time within which to collate the required information and serve same on the applicant, whereas, the EFCC had bluntly refused to comply.”
The judge said he was of the view that on receipt of the plaintiff’s request, EFCC had a duty to respond, but in this case they simply kept mute.
“Let me say that none of the defendants has such powers under the law,” the judge said. “The EFCC failed to file any counter affidavit stating the reasons for its failure to avail the plaintiff with the required information.”
He explained that in the case, none of the information required by the plaintiff threatened national security.
“The FOI Act is meant to promote democracy, transparency, justice and development. It is designed to change how government works because we all, like Nigerians, have resolved that it should no longer be business as usual,” he said, urging public institutions in the country to brace up for full implementation of the FOI Act, as the judiciary has no choice but to comply with the enforcement of the act.
The plaintiff had instituted the suit in December 2012, seeking to know the whereabouts of the recovered asset and the quantity so far returned to Oceanic Bank Plc shareholders.
Apart from this, Okezie wants to know the source of the money paid by EFCC to prosecute Mrs. Ibru as well as a list of criminal prosecutions carried out by the EFCC through private lawyers instead of common ones. He added the Attorney-General as respondent.
Source: The Publisher

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