The foremost anti-corruption agency in Nigeria has explained how a former governor of Bayelsa recovered his numerous seized houses from the government.
The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission has explained why a former governor of Bayelsa State, Timipre Sylva, was able to recover the 48 houses it seized from him.
The EFCC in a series of tweets on its official Twitter handle alleged that Justice Adeniyi Ademola was the one who thwarted the case in a controversial ruling.
The anti-graft agency had come under fire recently for returning the seized houses to the former governor who is a chieftain of the All Progressives Congress.
Although the return of the assets was exclusively reported by The PUNCH in October 2016, it resurfaced recently and went viral on the Internet.
However, the EFCC said Sylva got away because of the judiciary which it described as an obstacle to the war on corruption.
The anti-graft agency said the case was controversial because Sylva was discharged barely a few days to the APC governorship primary in 2015.
The EFCC said, “He (Sylva) was facing 42 charges before Justice Mohammed of the FHC Abuja. The said properties were forfeited as part of the trial. The EFCC applied to consolidate charges against him before Justice Mohammed after the DPP, on June 1, 2015, withdrew its own charges.
“On June 10, 2015, rather than hear the case, Justice Mohammed dismissed the charges without him and co-defendants taking their pleas. The EFCC expressed its discontent at the ruling, and Chief Justice of the Federal High Court, Abuja reassigned the case to Justice Ademola of the FHC Abuja.
“On June 12, 2015 the EFCC filed fresh charges and on July 9, 2015 and brought 50 counts against him before Justice Ademola. The EFCC had expected a speedy/fair trial. But no! Few days to the Bayelsa State governorship election, Justice Ademola freed him without pleas taken.”
The explanation of the EFCC, however, did not go down well with a large number of its followers on Twitter as they asked the EFCC to immediately appeal the judgement.
They argued that the commission had in the past flouted court orders when handling cases involving politicians in the opposition parties but was treating politicians in the APC with kid gloves.
A cross section of Twitter users, however, blamed the judiciary for striking out the case.
A user, Khunum-Khufu, wrote, “Sylva had a corruption case against him in court when President Muhammadu Buhari made him chairman of his inauguration committee.”
Another user, Onwa, wrote, “So obviously there are some powerful people protecting Sylva from the law. If it’s not from EFCC, then it’s from a higher power.”
Jacob Ehwarieme wrote, “Nigerian judiciary is inept and corrupt politicians are enjoying and feasting on our comatose law books. God punish the wicked ones, turn them to hell fire.”
The EFCC had on January 3, 2013 taken possession of 48 properties of Sylva while he was on trial.