Former Governor of Osun State, Mr. Olagunsoye Oyinlola, has secured the permission of a Federal High Court in Abuja to compel the Attorney General of the Federation (AGF) and Minster of Justice, Muhammed Bello Adoke (SAN) to prosecute MTN Nigeria Communication Limited and its Directors for criminal offences.
Oyinlola, through his counsel, Rauf Adebisi, approached the court with a motion ex parte for an order of mandamus compelling the 1st respondent (Adoke) to prosecute the 2nd respondent (MTN-Nigeria Communication Limited) and its directors by instituting and undertaking criminal proceedings against them for committing the offence of an attempt to suppress evidence.
Adebisi, in line with Order 34 rules 1(I) & 3 of the Federal High Court (Civil Procedure) Rules 2009, Section 174 (1) (2) & (3) of the 1999 Constitution (as amended) sought the leaf of the court to institute the process.
In his ruling, Justice Adeniyi Ademola granted the motion ex parte and subsequently adjourned the matter to December 10.
Oyinlola in an affidavit supporting the motion, averred that he had discovered ethical breaches in relation to the acts of some judicial officers connected with the Governorship Election Appeal which nullified his election as Osun State governor in 2010.
He also averred that the report of the Special Task Force setup by the Inspector General of Police (IG), Muhammed Abubarkar, revealed that GSM number 0803401700 belonging to Alhaji Tunji Ijaya appeared to have been used as a link between GSM numbers 0803401111 belonging to Lai Rauf Mohammed, 08062240104, 08034240000 belonging to former Lagos state Governor, Senator Bola Tinubu and GSM number 08034004887 belonging to Justice Isa Ayo Salami.
The former governor alleged in the affidavit that MTN had deliberately frustrated investigation into the ethical breaches as the telecoms company did not furnish the Area “G” Police Command Office the call data records of the numbers and call logs of principal actors in the criminal act.
“That the 2nd respondent on its own part deliberately frustrated the work of the panel by providing inadequate and incomplete call data records to the law enforcement and security agencies, which, the latter, in turn, transmitted to the Special Investigative Panel of the National Judicial Council (NJC).”
According to the affidavit, three other GSM service providers, namely, Glo mobile, Airtel and Etisalat cooperated fully with the NJC's panel and availed the latter of call data records; spanning, in some cases, six calendar months.
“That during the course of investigations carried out by an arm of government’s law enforcement and security agencies in the country, the office of the Area Commander, Nigeria Police Force, Area “G” Command Headquarters, Ogba, Lagos, did request that the 2ND Respondent (MTN Nigeria Communications Ltd ) furnish it with information on telephone subscriber numbers 08034004887 and 08034010700, belonging to Justice Isa Ayo Salami and Chief Tunji Ijaiya respectively – the principal characters fingered in the communication between the erstwhile President of the Court of Appeal and chieftains of the defunct Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN) during the pendency of the Osun State Gubernatorial Appeal.”
He explained further that the exchange of phone calls spanned between September, 2010 and April, 2011, adding that the police peport recommended that MTN Nigeria Communications Ltd be prosecuted for an attempt to suppress evidence.
Oyinlola confirmed that the entire case file together with the police report had been transferred by the Force Headquarters to the office of the Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice for necessary legal actions.
He added that Adoke’s refusal to institute criminal action against MTN-Nigeria clearly shows his disregard to public interest and interest of justice as enshrined in Section 174(3) of the 1999 Constitution (as amended).
“That I had written series of letters including those dated 7/5/2012, 14/2/2013 and 21/3/2013 urging the 1st Respondent (Adoke) to take appropriate legal action against the 2ND Respondent, (MTN Nigeria Communications Ltd) and its Directors, but to no avail. The said letters are hereby attached and marked Exhibits B, C and D respectively,” he averred.
The former governor had petitioned the NJC alleging misconduct against certain judicial officers in the handling and determination of Governorship Election Appeal which ousted him as governor of Osun State.
Subsequently, the NJC constituted a special investigative panel in 2011 to determine the culpability or otherwise the judicial officers with respect to allegations.
According to him, MTN premeditated intent to mislead the panel of eminent jurists assembled by the NJC, which did not only vitiate the interest of justice, but also amounted to gross professional, ethical and corporate misconduct.
Oyinlola in March, 2012 also petitioned the Minister of Police Affairs and the Inspector-General of Police, complaining about the corporate, ethical and professional misconduct of MTN Communications Ltd.