The Federal High Court in Abuja has granted permission to two civil society groups to commence a suit seeking to compel the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission to prosecute a former governor of Imo State, Rochas Okorocha, on corruption charges.
Justice Ahmed Mohammed, on March 3, 2020, granted the leave to the groups, but a copy of the enrolled order of the court was only seen by our correspondent on Monday.
The plaintiffs are Kingdom Human Rights Foundation International and the Rights for All International.
They sued EFCC, Rochas, Zigreat International Company Limited, Eze Enwereku, and Duru Onyeobi, as the first to the fifth respondents, respectively.
The plaintiffs had in their ex parte application filed on February 10, 2020, accused EFCC of refusing to investigate or prosecute Okorocha along with the third to the fifth defendants for various corruption allegations contained in a petition submitted to the agency as far back as August 22, 2019.
Okorocha stepped down as Imo State governor on May 29, 2019 and was later sworn in as the senator representing Imo West Senatorial District.
The groups accused him and the other defendants of “money laundering, inflated contract, unlawful award and execution of contract without due process and breach of the Procurement Act, criminal over-inflation of contract sum and non-execution and completion of contracts fully paid for with public fund.”
Ruling on the ex parte application moved by the plaintiffs’ lawyer, Mr Kingdom Okere, Justice Mohammed granted it and ordered that the respondents should be served with the substantive suit to enable them to respond to it.
The judge in his ruling said, “Leave is hereby granted the applicants to apply for judicial review of the administrative/inaction of the first defendant (EFCC) in terms of the reliefs set out in the statement in support of the application.
“The order of leave shall be served on all the respondents along with the substantive application to be filed after the grant of this leave.
“Hearing notices to be issued on all the defendants.
“This suit is adjourned till March 17, 2020.”