by Stanley Azuakola
David Edevbie, the former Principal Secretary to the late President Umaru Yar’Adua, on Wednesday filed an action at the Federal High Court in Lagos against the EFCC. He wants the court to either compel the Commission to prosecute him for his alleged involvement in money laundering activities or in the absence of any concrete evidence against him, give him a clean bill of health.
Since 2009, Edevbie been the subject of investigation by the EFCC in connection with the sale of Delta State’s shareholding in Vee Networks Limited (VNL) while he was Delta State Commissioner for Finance.
Through his counsel, Olasupo Shasore (SAN) of Ajumogobia and Okeke, the plaintiff is seeking the enforcement of his fundamental rights to fair hearing within a reasonable time and the right to receive information without interference.
Basically, Edevbie wants three things:
1. An order of the court compelling the respondents to prosecute him where investigation discloses evidence of wrongdoing or in the alternative, an order compelling the EFCC to make an official written communication exonerating him from any alleged financial crime arising from the VNL transaction.
2. An order of the court compelling the EFCC to disclose the results of its investigation into his involvement in the VNL transaction while he was the Delta State Commissioner for Finance pursuant to Section 1(3) of the Freedom of Information Act, 2011.
3. The sum of N500 million as damages for the agency’s “breach of his constitutional right to receive information without interference, as enshrined in Section 39 (1) of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999, Article 9 of the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights (Ratification and Enforcement) Act (Cap 10) Laws of the Federation of Nigeria (LFN), 1990, (‘the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Right’) and sections 1, 4 and 7 of the Freedom of Information Act, 2011 which denial has brought about loss of business and goodwill to the applicant over the period of the time of the denial.
He said that he could not have been involved in any money laundering activity arising from the transaction because he had ceased to be a member of the Board of VNL as a Director and the Delta State Executive Council as Commissioner for Finance before the sale of the shares was concluded, and funds received by Delta State Government in June 2006.
“After my resignation from the VNL board in August 2004, after which I was duly replaced by another appointee of Delta State Government – Mr. Onosode – and my departure from the Delta State government as Commissioner for Finance in December 2005, I was no longer entitled to receive information regarding the final negotiations that eventually led to the sale of Delta State’s shares in VNL in June 2006”, he averred.
In 2009, Edevbie was named along with five others as a co-conspirator in the alleged money laundering charges preferred against former Delta State Governor, James Ibori, by the Crown Prosecution in the United Kingdom (UK). This was shortly after he was appointed Principal Secretary to the late President Yar’Adua replacing the previous Chief of Staff.