Alleged N15m bribe: Court dismisses kingmakers’ plea to restrain EFCC from probe

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A Federal High Court in Ibadan on Friday dismissed an application filed by five Oyo kingmakers to restrain the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, from probing them.

In five separate judgements, Justice Ekerete Akpan held that it was impossible to restrain the EFCC from carrying out its constitutional duty, which was to investigate suspected financial crime.

Akpan added that mere interpretation of EFCC’s intention, especially as it bordered on N15 million bribery allegation when the anti-graft body invited the applicants for interrogation, did not amount to harassment.

He, therefore, dismissed the application on grounds of incompetence.

Counsel to the applicants, I.B. Olayinka, had in five separate applications prayed the court to declare as unfair and unjust EFCC’s ceaseless attempt to arrest and investigate his clients over the alleged collection of cash gifts by the kingmakers.

He added that the action of the Oyo State government, which is the second respondent in the case, who requested the EFCC to investigate the kingmakers, was a clear case of witch-hunting of his clients.

“Just imagine, My Lord, the kingmakers completed their assignment of choosing the next successor to the throne on September 22, 2022, and a year after, the state government became dissatisfied, faulting the process,” Olayinka said.

Counsel to EFCC, Mr S.M. Galadanchi, had told the court to discountenance Olayinka’s submissions because two of the kingmakers, Asimiyu Atanda and Lamidi Oyewale, graciously honoured the EFCC invitation and provided very useful information.

Galadanchi argued that the two chiefs stated that the kingmakers arrived at a consensus on who the next Alaafin would be after one of the candidates to the throne, known as Lukman Gbadegesin, offered each of them N15 million.

He further said that others declined to honour the invitation, adding that those who went to the EFCC office returned home without any problem.

Also, counsel to the Oyo State government, Mr N.A. Abiola, told the court to reject the kingmakers’ application on the ground that they were merely based on assumptions.

The News Agency of Nigeria, NAN, reported that Yusuf Ayoola (Basorun), Lamidi Oyewale (Sanu), Asimiyu Atanda (Agbaakin), Hamzat Yusuf (Akinniku) and Wakeel Oyedapo have for about two years been engulfed in a feud with the Oyo State government over corruption allegations levelled against them in respect of the selection of the Alaafin of Oyo.

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