The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) has expressed disappointment following an interim ex parte order by the Federal High Court in Awka, Anambra State granting the immediate past governor of the state Willie Obiano permission to travel to the United States for medicals.
Obiano, who has been on the commission’s watch since 2021 over alleged money laundering, was arrested on March 17, 2022, at the Murtala Muhammed International Airport in Lagos as he attempted to leave the country hours after handing over to Prof Charles Soludo.
EFCC spokesman Wilson Uwujaren in a statement on Saturday said Justice Hyeladzira Nganjiwa denied it fair hearing in giving the order.
The statement stated, “Available court documents indicate that Obiano had on March 11, 2022, ahead of his handover on March 17, filed a motion ex parte dated March 10, 2022 before Justice Nganjiwa praying, among others, for an interim injunction stopping the EFCC from arresting or preventing him from travelling out of the country for his medical treatment.
“While the court in one breath ordered the applicant to put the commission on notice on why interim preservatory order should not be granted, it went ahead to make an order that the commission should not obstruct, impede or prevent the applicant from travelling abroad to keep his medical appointment and adjourned till March 23.
“On March 31, the commission was served an originating motion on notice for the enforcement of the applicant’s fundamental rights. Curiously, the motion was filed on March 11, 2022, the same date as the motion for ex parte order.
“This was followed by another motion on notice on April 4, putting the commission on notice to release Obiano’s passport to enable him to travel abroad for his medicals with hearing fixed for April 6, and instructions that proceedings shall be conducted virtually via Zoom.”
Ahead of the hearing, the EFCC said it petitioned the Chief Judge of the Federal High Court asking Nganjiwa to recuse himself from the fundamental rights action on the grounds that he was a party to the commission’s appeal at the Supreme Court in the corruption case of H. A. Nganjiwa vs FRN.
“But when the case was called, Justice Nnamdi Dimgba held the brief of his brother judge, who was bereaved. The case was subsequently adjourned, with instruction that counsel would be notified of the adjourned date,” the commission explained.