Edo Politics: Obaseki’s Government Moves To Prosecute, Jail Oshiomhole If Found Guilty Amid Kicks
Indications show that more hurdles lie ahead for the immediate past National Chairman of the All Progressives Congress, APC, Adams Oshiomhole.
This is because the Edo State government has not given up on its resolve to prosecute him and make him face the full wrath of the law if convicted by the court. Oshiomhole risks going to jail among other penalties if found guilty of the indictments made against him and some other people that worked under him as Governor of Edo State.
Recall that Governor Godwin Obaseki had set up a Judicial Commission of Inquiry (JCI) to probe Oshiomhole’s administration. The commission was headed by Justice James Oyomire (retd.) which investigated the construction of the Edo Specialist Hospital and supply of equipment for the hospital during Oshiomhole’s tenure. After its investigation, the commission made its findings known and made some recommendations for the state government.
Most importantly, the commission indicted Oshiomhole’s administration for violating the state’s Public Procurement Law. The JCI made eight recommendations contained in the white paper made public by the Edo State government based on the report of the commission. The commission also recommended that the Edo State Ministry of Justice should take civil and criminal actions against those indicted for breaching the procurement law.
Earlier in May this year, the commission led by Oyomire had during the presentation of its report explained how the breach was done by Oshiomhole’s administration. Oyomire had stated that the procurement law clearly states that any contractor working on a government project should not receive more than 25 percent upfront payment upon contract award, which Oshiomhole’s administration allegedly contravened. Oyomire then revealed that the immediate past administration of Oshiomhole paid 75 percent of the contract sum upfront for the project to Vamed Engineering which obviously violated the state’s procurement law.
After receiving the report then, Obaseki had promised that his government would prosecute those found culpable and make them to account for their actions no matter how highly placed they are. He added that his government has been putting in the right measures and that there are government resources that needed to be recovered from some people. Obaseki assured that his government would not hesitate to ask those culpable to return those resources to the state government. He then added that his government would prosecute those indicted in line with the recommendations of the commission.
Consequently, the Edo State government seemed to have taken steps to do as it promised. But, there was a hurdle somehow in its way. What really happened? When it became obvious that Oshiomhole could be arrested by the Edo State government, he approached the Federal High Court Abuja and got a court order to stop his arrest. Justice Ahmed Mohammed on June 17, 2020, reaffirmed a restraining order which he earlier issued on June 1, 2020 stopping parties in the suit from acting on the report. Although, the Edo State government is challenging the jurisdiction of the court to hear the case.
Meanwhile, the Federal High Court in Abuja on Monday adjourned till July 8 to hear the suit filed by Oshiomhole to stop his possible arrest over an indictment in the white paper issued by the Edo State Government. The adjournment was to allow all parties to be duly served with the processes before the proceedings would commence. The respondent in the case include the Edo State Government, Governor Godwin Obaseki, the Inspector-General of Police and the Department of State Services. It was reported that all the respondents had filed separate notices of preliminary objection challenging the jurisdiction of the Federal High Court Abuja to hear the suit. The matter would come up on July 8 where the preliminary objections challenging its jurisdiction to hear the suit would be decided.
The issue of whether the Federal High Court Abuja has the jurisdiction to hear the case is at stake because the incidents took place in Edo State. That would be decided by the court when it resumes. But, the main business is the main case which will bother on the indictment itself. Oshiomhole and his affected officials during his tenure will have to disprove the indictment made against them by the commission. Since Oshiomhole was the Governor then, he is the main man in this case. Every other persons acted in line with directives given to them. They were simply working under instruction. So, Oshiomhole will first have to prove his innocence or risk jail terms and maybe other penalties if he is found guilty of the indictments.
Obaseki had lamented that the people who have the opportunity of rebuilding the system took further steps in destroying the already weakened system. He vowed to ensure that such people are brought to book. Despite all odds and political twists it may be given, this case will determine Obaseki’s resolve to recover the states funds and ensure that those found culpable are made to face the full wrath of the law. It is left for those indicted to prove their innocence and then go freely. But, if they are found guilty at the end of the day, then they will face the full wrath of the law.