“Time cannot run against the State in arresting or prosecuting the applicant if truly he is culpable of the alleged offence. The respondents have nothing to lose if status quo is maintained. Therefore, all action concerning arrest, detention and prosecution of the applicant should hold on for now, till final determination of the appeal on the matter”
– Justice Okon Abang
For four years, beginning from January 2011, I served as Special Adviser on Niger Delta under the administration of former President Goodluck Jonathan. During this period, I also doubled as chairman of the Presidential Amnesty Programme (PAP).
This period accorded me the privilege of serving Nigeria at another level different from my previous experience as a lawmaker in the Ondo State House of Assembly between 2003 and 2007.
In July 2015, I travelled to the United States of America for a pre-scheduled medical examination and eventually had to undergo an excruciating surgery on my knee. I was already in hospital when news got to me that I had been invited by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) over allegations bordering supposedly on misapplication of funds during my tenure as chairman of the Presidential Amnesty Programme.
In that my medical condition, I could not honour the EFCC invitation. My counsel had to write to the commission on my behalf formally informing it of my absence from the country and that I will honour the invitation when I complete my medical procedure and fully recuperated.
The EFCC however responded with threats and harassment, which began with the freezing of the bank account of the Keketobou Foundation, an educational and charity non-governmental organisation I set up in honour of my mother.
The commission followed this up with the arrest and detention of some former staff of the Amnesty Office after which two of them were eventually arraigned when they refused to make a statement implicating me. The matter is pending at the Federal Capital Territory High Court in Abuja.
I was then left with no other option than to approach the courts seeking the protection and enforcement of my fundamental human rights.
On April 5, 2016, while ruling on my fundamental right enforcement suit, Justice Okon Abang sitting at the Federal High Court, Lagos, restrained the EFCC, Department of State Services (DSS), Independent Corrupt Practices Commission (ICPC), Immigration, Customs, Nigerian Security and Civil Defence Corps as well as the Police and other security and investigative agencies from arresting, detaining or prosecuting me pending the determination of an appeal on an earlier ruling of the court on February 17, 2016.
While ordering all parties in the suit to maintain the status quo pending the determination of my appeal on the matter, Justice Abang ruled: “Time cannot run against the State in arresting or prosecuting the applicant if truly he is culpable of the alleged offence. The respondents have nothing to lose if status quo is maintained. Therefore, all action concerning arrest, detention and prosecution of the applicant should hold on for now, till final determination of the appeal on the matter.” (Courts restrains EFCC from prosecuting ex-Jonathan’s aide, Kingsley Kuku – Leadership (www.leadership.ng); Court grants stay on Kuku’s arrest – The Nation (thenationonlineng.net).
Earlier in February 2016, Justice Valentine Ashi of the Federal Capital Territory High Court had given a similar restraining order on all the earlier mentioned security and investigative agencies (See the following links: Alleged Fraud: Order against Kuku’s arrest subsists – Vanguard (www.vanguardngr.com); Amnesty: Court warns EFCC against Kuku’s arrest – Daily Trust (https://wwww.daily trust.com.ng).
These valid and potent order of the courts subsist as the appeal before the Appeal Court, Lagos Division has not been determined.
VICTIM OF EFCC, DSS RIVALRY
In outright violation of these valid restraining order on these agencies, I have also become a victim of the ongoing unhealthy rivalry between the EFCC and the DSS where I am being subjected to the worst form of media trial and have been serially libelled.
It is a trend all over the world for security and investigative agencies of government to engage in some form of rivalry. What is however uncommon in the instant case between the EFCC and the DSS is the unnecessary politicisation of such rivalry. And this is very regrettable. My appeal to both agencies is that I do not wish to be used as a punching bag in their supremacy battles.
A few days ago, there were reports in the media in which the DSS in a curiously unsigned statement, which was equally attributed to a confidential source in the agency, accused the EFCC of shielding me from prosecution.
I had stated earlier why I’m yet to return to the country. But it is not true that the EFCC is shielding me from prosecution.
In a true democracy where the rule of law is not observed in the breach, the EFCC cannot do otherwise it would have disobeyed and of course be in contempt of the valid and subsisting order of the courts. Any action to the contrary amounts to persecution and a recourse to self-help, which unfortunately the DSS is prodding the EFCC towards.
The DSS claimed that it was investigating me for acts bordering on economic sabotage and pipeline destruction. I also wonder where this came from because I have never been invited by the service.
I’m a patriotic Nigerian, who for over a decade has rendered selfless and committed service to Nigeria at different levels. I cannot turn around to destroy a house in which I’m a co-builder. Let posterity be the judge of my service.
The security agency equally alleged that I am “a fugitive, who is believed to be funding illegal raids like the one carried out on the residence of a former Deputy Speaker of the House of Representatives, Hon. Chibudom Nwuche.”
It staggers the imagination how the DSS arrived at this outrageous and shocking conclusion when it had never invited me and neither have I been declared wanted by any security agency of government. The invitation by the EFCC is not an arrest warrant issued by the court. It is therefore defamatory and slanderous to describe a man who has not been convicted even in absentia or declared wanted as a fugitive.
On the issue of Hon. Nwuche, it is worrisome that the DSS decided to meddle again in a matter already being handled by the EFCC. For an agency that has accused a sister agency of shielding me, why is it now providing shelter for Nwuche, who the EFCC had invited and has been asked to account for the N2.7billion he collected as mobilisation fee for a contract awarded by my former office?
It is not just a coincidence that the DSS sudden interest in Chibudom Nwuche is coming just after he went on a courtesy visit with a former Speaker of the House of Representatives to the office of the DSS Director General about a week ago.
NOT THE WHOLE TRUTH
While the EFCC is right that it is not shielding me from prosecution in its response to the DSS allegation, it was however economical with the truth when it said it declared me wanted.
But the EFCC has some questions to answer: wasn’t it duly served Form 47 by the courts, which prevented it from taking any further action on the matter? Has the matter before the Court of Appeal been determined?
The commission may also wish to disclose when a valid court order was obtained declaring me wanted.
WHY THEY ARE AFTER MEIt is clear that the EFCC and indeed the DSS are bent on persecuting me and deploying extra-legal means to deal with me instead of waiting for the legal process to run its course. It is within my constitutionally guaranteed right to seek legal protection when my safety and right to life is no longer assured by institutions of state saddled with that responsibility.
My worst fear has been confirmed by sources within the security agencies, who have informed me that the reason I am wanted has nothing to do with questions arising from my stewardship as former PAP chairman. Instead the get-me-at-all-costs order was given in order to humiliate and punish me for my perceived role in the 2015 elections. As a loyal party man, I wholeheartedly supported and worked for my party’s candidate in the presidential election, Dr. Goodluck Jonathan. I later learnt that I became a marked man after the election.
I have equally been informed about a plot that me, some former militant leaders as well as some prominent Niger Delta youth and environmental activists will be given what they call the ‘Dasuki Treatment’ whereby we will be arrested and detained for a long period. And that we will only be released or arraigned in court after we might have inhaled poisonous substances that could lead to our death.
Could this be why the DSS and EFCC have dragged me into their rivalry? Why the desperation? And why would the EFCC say I have been declared wanted when no such order exists?
Hon. Kingsley Kuku
Former Special Adviser to the President on Niger Delta/ Chairman, Presidential Amnesty Programme