Two sons of a former Enugu State Governor, Sullivan Chime, have asked an Enugu Federal High Court to dismiss a suit filed by a former National Auditor of the Peoples Democratic Party, Ray Nnaji, seeking to compel the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission to investigate the former governor.
Nnaji filed the suit, which was brought pursuant to Order 34 and 56 (1) of the FHC (Civil Procedure) Rules 2009, the EFCC Act, and the Freedom of Information Act, after what he described as the anti-graft agency’s failure to act on a petition in which he sought the investigation of several allegations of official corruption against Chime.
The former governor’s sons, Nnamdi and Tochukwu, were listed as 4th and 5th respondents in the suit, which came up for mention on Monday.
After the proceedings, the presiding judge, Justice D. V. Agishi, fixed January 26, 2016, for hearing in the suit.
Nnamdi and Tochukwu were accused of being the beneficiaries of alleged corrupt practices purportedly perpetrated by their father during his eight-year tenure, according to the suit.
They were alleged to have been enriched by their father with several choice buildings in the state.
However, in a joint counter affidavit, which was deposed to by one Uchenna Agunwa, a legal practitioner in the law firm of their counsel, Anthony Ani (SAN), Chime’s children claimed that their father did not indulge in corrupt practices during his stay in office.
They further claimed that they did not benefit from any alleged corrupt practice, noting that they “have recognisable means of livelihood being businessmen engaged in diverse areas of enterprise.”
According to them, they were not dependent on their father, the former governor, for their livelihood.
Urging the court to dismiss Nnaji’s application, Chime’s sons argued that he lacked the authority to file the suit.
They also argued that the EFCC’s powers to investigate any allegation of financial crime were discretionary and not mandatory, and as such, the anti-graft agency cannot be compelled to act on Nnaji’s petition.
They added that some respondents in the suit, including Chime’s former Chief of Staff, Mrs. Ifeoma Nwobodo; Chime’s brother, Dr. Jide Chime; and the former Managing Director of Enugu State Housing Development Corporation, Chief Ikeje Asogwa, who is also the current chairman of the PDP in Enugu State, are already being investigated by the EFCC in respect of the petition.
They, therefore, sought the dismissal of the application on the grounds of incompetence and lack of jurisdiction.
Justice Agishi had earlier on July 2, granted Nnaji leave to file the application before the court.
The allegations which Nnaji asked the court to compel the EFCC to investigate included misappropriation, embezzlement, stealing, forgery, and criminal conversion of public property, which Chime was said to have committed while in office between 2007 and 2015.
Nnaji also told the court to compel the EFCC to prosecute Chime after the investigation.
He is equally asking the court to order the Code of Conduct Bureau to release to him, the Certified True Copies of the declaration of assets form filed by Chime before he assumed office as Enugu State governor.
The Accountant General of Enugu State, the Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, the National Assembly and the President, Federal Republic of Nigeria, were other parties listed as respondents in the suit.