Court Bars Gov. Umahi, 7 Others from Probing Ebonyi Ex- SSG over N2 billion Agric Loan

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Aliuna Uchenna

A Federal High court had on Friday barred the governor of Ebonyi state, chief David Umahi and seven other panel members from probing the Former Secretary to the State Government, Prof Bernard Odoh over an alleged misappropriation of N2 billion naria agric loan borrowed from central Bank of Nigeria, CBN.

Recall that the governor, David Umahi had in 2016 during his first tenure in office borrowed N2 billion naria from CBN with the purpose of disbursing it to farmers in the state.

But Odah had dragged the governor and cohorts to court, asking the court to mandate the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) to investigate the said N2 billion naria Agric loans that was allegedly misappropriated in 2016.

The court, however, had followed an ex parte motion filed by Prof. Odoh against the Governor and the seven members of the panel of enquiry, restrained him (Umahi) from probing him (Odah).

Prof. Odoh is asking the court to mandate the anti graft agency to probe governor Umahi and others named in a petition he wrote alleging financial crimes relating to the 2016 Agric loan borrowed from the Central Bank of Nigeria by the State government.

But Umahi resorted in engaging Odoh who was his former SSG in his first tenure in a media war.

Umahi had setup a seven man panel to probe the former SSG, Prof Odah to account for the said amount of money, which he (Odoh) chaired in 2016 and provided guidance for the loan disbursements.

Recall that Prof Odoh resigned his appointment in 2018 citing certain irreconcilable differences with the governor.

Odoh, had last month wrote an open later to the Governor where he criticised certain policies of the Government under, Chief David Umahi as a Governor.

He also accussed the governor and some of the cabinet members of being responsible for the misappropriation of the funds.

Odoh also rejected the panel of enquiry, setup by the governor, claiming that the panel members are made up of appointees and cronies of the governor. He accused the panel of bias alleging that it was set up primarily to cook up indictment against him.

It was a result of this development, that Odoh filled a suit at the Federal High Court, Owerri Division urging the court to compel the EFCC to probe the said loan disbursement.

Odoh filed a motion of ex parte seeking to restrain Umahi and the panel members from probing him.

The motion in Suit no: FHC/OW/CS/54/2020 was filed on June 1, 2020 and it has the EFCC and Ebonyi State Governor as first and second respondents respectively.

Also, joined in the suit include Hon Justice Chris Eze, Chairman of the panel, Mr Emeka Nwode, Secretary of the probe panel and Bishop Onyeuwaoma Umoke, member.

Others are: HRH Raymond Iyioku, Egenti Okwuegbu, Monday Ikpor and Austin Iowo, all members of the panel of enquiry.

Prof. Odoh had prayed the court to grant him leave to bring application for Judicial Review (Order of Mandamus) compelling the EFCC to carry out its statutory duty as stipulated in the EFCC establishment act by investigating the governor and any other persons involved in his petition on the financial crimes relating to the N2bn CBN Agric loan.

He also sought for a restraining order against the Governor and members of the panel of enquiry from probing him pending the hearing and determination of the application.

But the presiding justice, Justice Tijjani Garba Ringim after listening to the Plaintiff’s (Odoh) Counsels, granted the reliefs sought.

According to him: “That leave of this Honourable Court is granted to the Applicant to bring application for Judicial Review (Order of Mandamus) compelling the 1st Respondent (EFCC) to carry out her Statutory duties as provide for under sections 1(2) and 6 (b) (h) of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission(Establishment) 2004, by investigating the Applicant, 2nd Respondent (Ebonyi Governor) and any other persons involved in the petition Of the Applicant on the financial crimes relating to the 2016 N2bn Central Bank of Nigeria loan for Ebonyi State”

“That the leave granted to the Applicant to bring application for Judicial Review (Order of Mandamus) shall operate as a stay of all proceedings and restraining the 2nd, 3rd, 4th, 5th, 6th, 7th and 8th defendants from either by themselves or through their agents or staff or workmen Or cohorts from inviting or summoning the Plaintiff for purpose of investigating and/or sitting in determination of the misappropriation of the 2016 N2bn Central Bank of Nigeria Agricultural loan fund for Ebonyi State or anyother relating to same or inviting or summoning the Plaintiff for any other purpose whatsoever pending the determination of the application or originating summons”, Justice Ringim ordered.

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