The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) has explained its ongoing investigation of the retired Justice Gladys Olotu, formerly of the Federal High Court in Abuja and two other judges of the court.
The commission stated this in a counter-affidavit dated April 1, 2014 and filed to counter the claims by Justice Olotu in her suit for the enforcement of her fundamental human rights now pending before a Federal High Court in Abuja.
The EFCC said it was investigating the three judges over allegation that they were involved in unethical conduct, including maintaining various bank accounts and investment interests in business, while in public service.
One of the other two judges currently serves in Abuja, while the other is in the Lagos division.
The commission said its investigation was based on a petition written to it by a group, Civil Society Network Against Corruption (CSNAC), in which Justice Olotu was also accused of maintaining an offshore account with First Bank (United Kingdom) and was alleged have over N2billion in cash and investment.
Justice Olotu, who was compulsorily retired earlier this year by President Goodluck Jonathan on ground of “gross misconduct and upon the recommendation by the National Judicial Council (NJC),” went to court after she was invited by the EFCC.
The commission denied allegation by the retired judge that it was being instigated by the NJC and other defendants in the case.
It also denied abusing Justice Olotu’s fundamental human rights as alleged, and stated that it was within its statutory powers to investigate and prosecute anyone for economic and financial crimes.
An EFCC official, Habufari Yahaya, who deposed to the affidavit, said: “In the course of investigation, certain issues arose for further clarifications, which had to do with documents and the applicant (Justice Olotu) therefore requested for time to bring them and she was obliged.”
The EFCC noted that Justice Olotu, was by her suit, seeking “the protection of the courts from investigation.”
The commission, however, said the retired judge could not “use the instruments of the law to shield herself from being investigated.”
It prayed the court to dismiss the suit as it relates to it (EFCC) with cost, on the ground that it was “unmeritorious and speculative.”
Justice Olotu is asking the court to, among others, restrain the EFCC, the Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission (ICPC), the State Security Service (SSS), the Police and Code of Conduct Bureau (CCB) from further inviting or quizzing her.
She averred in a supporting affidavit that the NJC and the Attorney General of the Federation (AGF), Mohammed Adoke (SAN), were instigating the various security agencies against her for daring to challenge her compulsory retirement in a separate suit.
She stated that upon the service of processes (in relation to her earlier suit, challenging her compulsory retirement) on them, the AGF and NJC “very unfortunately felt and indeed expressed anger against me.”
Justice Olotu also stated that “in fulfillment of these threats, the 7th and 8th respondents (AGF and NJC) ganged up with the 9th to the 18th respondents against me, and I was subsequently invited by the 1st respondent (EFCC) to its office on March 18, 2014.
The 9th to 18th respondents in the suit include former Chief Justice of Nigeria (CJN), Justice Salifu Alfa Belgore and Chief Gabriel Igbinedion – the Esama of Benin and father of former Edo State governor, Lucky Igbinedion.
Others are companies. They include Ponticell Nigeria Limited, Stolt Offshore Services S. A., the Vessel M. V. Theo, the owners of the Vessel M. V. Theo, Elf Nigeria Petroleum Nigeria Limited, A.B.C. Maritime AG, the Vessel M.V.Lara and the Vessel M.V.Krysia.
Justice Olotu further stated that in honouring the invitation by the EFCC, she arrived its office at about 10a.m. on March 18, 2014 and was subsequently “arrested, interrogated and detained until about 4p.m. before I was released to go with instructions to come back on April 1, 2014 for another round of humiliation and detention.”
She insisted that her invitation by the EFCC “was orchestrated by the AGF and the NJC along with 10 others.
“I felt highly humiliated, tortured, heartbroken by the way and manner the officers of the 1st respondent ridiculed me in the name of interrogation,” she stated.
Justice Olotu averred that after her experience with the EFCC, officers of the ICPC, SSS, the police and the Code of Conduct Bureau were now on her trail making it difficult for her to move freely and to freely and safely stay in her residence.
“My residence has now turned a rendezvous for all manner of security agents in Nigeria for the single reason that I filed Exhibit A (the suit against her retirement) and have refused to discontinue it,” she added.
She also sought an order directing all the respondents to tender a written apology to her; an order awarding N5billion as exemplary damages against the respondents and in her favour and a perpetual injunction restraining the respondent from further arresting, detaining and humiliating her.
NJC, in its counter affidavit, denied being behind the retired judge’s experience in the hands of men of the EFCC. It described Justice Olotu’s allegations as falsehood.
“The 8th respondent (NJC) did not at any time instigate the 1st – 5th respondents (EFCC, ICPC, SSS, police and CCB) or any security agency to investigate the applicant (Olotu) in respect of any wrongdoing.
“The 8th respondent did not feel or express any anger against the applicant for filing Exhibit A and has not threatened to set the machineries of the 1st to 5th respondents in motion against the applicant,” an official of the NJC, Khadijat Hassan stated in the affidavit.
NJC also urged the court for an order directing Justice Olotu to attend court for cross-examination to substantiate the allegation contained in the affidavit she personally deposed to in support of the motion for enforcement of fundamental right dated March 24, 2014.
NJC’s lawyer, Philips Jimoh-Lasisi (SAN) noted in the application dated May 2, 2014, the in view of the nature of Justice Olotu’s allegation against his client, “it is necessary for an order to be made directing the deponent (Olotu) to attend court for cross-examination”.
He relied on Order 27 Rule 1 of the Federal High Court (Civil Procedure) Rules 2009 and contended that since Olotu deposed to the affidavit supporting the main suit, the court could make an order directing her to attend court for cross-examination.