The Coalition of Public Interest Lawyers and Advocates has written the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission to reopen the case of forgery against Minister of State for Mines and Steel Development, Mr Uchechukwu Sampson Ogah.
The group, in the letter to the commission, held that revisiting the case would be in the interest of equity and justice.
COPA stated that Ogah was accused by one Mrs Bridget Adeosun, Managing Director of Mut-Hass Petroleum Limited, who submitted a petition to the EFCC, claiming that Ogah forged her signature on a document to validate a non-existent Memorandum of Understanding between his company, Masters Energy Oil and Gas and Mut-Hass Petroleum Limited sometime in 2011.
The advocacy group added that Ogah was arraigned in court but the case was withdrawn following the order of the Inspector-General of Police.
“It is on public record that the allegation of fraud and forgery against Ogah was thereupon taken to the magistrate court on a criminal charge by the Nigeria Police Force ostensibly to prosecute the accusation but was later withdrawn at the instance of the then Inspector-General of Police to allow them gather more evidence. Since then, the matter has been shelved while the perpetuated fraud remains unaddressed.
“It was therefore a relief when the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, acting on Mrs Adeosun’s petition against Ogah on the same material facts of fraud and forgery, picked up the accused right after the case was withdrawn from court by the Nigeria Police Force and invited him over for a series of interrogation.”
COPA alleged that since taking over the case, the EFCC had failed to record any tangible progress or make public the results of its findings and investigation.
It also stated that the public hoped that the EFCC would be on top of their game and be adept in reaching a resolution wherein justice would have been done in the matter.
The coalition said, “The alacrity and intensity with which it commenced investigation into the allegation of fraud against Ogah fizzled out however, in a manner reminiscent of the police’s abrupt and ill-intentioned withdrawal of same from adjudication.
“The impression on the public and the direct victims of this fraud is that your agency, like the police, may be protecting the interest of a man of clear influence and wealth at the cost of justice.
“There is gain stating that the anti-corruption fight of the President Muhammadu Buhari administration relies heavily on the capacity, objectivity and efficiency of the EFCC.
“In many ways, the successes in the fight against corruption is traced back to the firm approach of this agency to corruption matters in a manner that is hoped to dispel fear of selective prosecution.
“By refusing to act on a petition that has languished unattended with your agency, the impression is made that there are indeed sacred cows in the corruption fight of this administration and this agency.”
COPA noted that there is an urgent need for expedited action on the petition against the minister as his office does not grant him immunity from investigation and subsequent prosecution.
It said, “The allegations against him are grave and negatively impacts the image projected by the President Buhari government.
“The EFCC must rise above the cronyism and partisanship that has crippled a great many other institutions of state and show itself as a shining light in the anti-corruption fight in the country.”
COPA also demanded that the anti-graft agency “revisit and revise the case file against Ogah.
“EFCC must shun the implicit duress of Ogah’s political connections and office, and should act in the interest of equity, fairness and justice in this matter forthwith.”