A Federal High Court in Abuja on Wednesday dismissed an application by a former Minister of Aviation, Stella Oduah, asking for an order to stop the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission and the police from arresting her with respect to the ongoing investigation into corruption allegation against her.
Oduah had filed the fundamental rights enforcement suit, asking the court to prohibit the Attorney-General of the Federation’s office, the EFCC, and the police from “inviting, arresting, investigating or prosecuting” her over the purchase of two armoured BMW vehicles at the cost of N255m by the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority under her watch as the aviation minister in 2013.
Justice Abdu Kafarati in his judgment on Wednesday upheld the objection raised by the respondents, to the effect that the court lacked the requisite jurisdiction to hear the case.
He held that that no court had the power to stop security agencies from carrying out their duty of investigation.
He said, “It is not grantable by this court because the court cannot stop security agencies from carrying out their duties. There is no way a person can be investigated without being invited by the body charged with the responsibility of investigation.
“In most cases, the invitation is even in the interest of the invitee because he or she will have the opportunity of giving his or her side of the story.
“I therefore hold that the application seeking to stop security agencies from inviting, investigating, arresting and/or prosecuting any person suspected to have committed an offence does not constitute a fundamental right action.”
Oduah had in the suit urged the court to declare illegal the alleged plot by the respondents to arrest, investigate and prosecute her in relation to her activities while in office, particularly the controversial two armoured vehicles purchased.
The purchase of the armoured vehicles by the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority while Oduah was in office attracted public criticism over allegation that the prices were inflated.
Oduah had argued that the criminal allegations leveled against her as minister had been investigated by the EFCC and the House of Representatives’ Committee on Aviation, which both absolved her of any wrong doing.
She had maintained that the investigation was going to be used as tool for political persecution against her.
She had urged the court to declare that, having earlier been exonerated, any further investigation, arrest, harassment and prosecution of her person in relation to the same issue, amounted to the invasion of her fundamental right to personal liberty, freedom of movement and to be presumed innocent until proved guilty. -PUNCH