A No-Nonsense Judge of Federal Capital Territory (FCT) High Court Abuja, Justice Peter Affen has dismissed the six-count charge bordering on alleged abuse of office preferred against Dr Fortune Feberesima, a Chief Physician to former President, Goodluck Jonathan.
The EFCC had accused Fiberesima of awarding contracts valued at N258.9 million and N36.9 million, respectively to a company where he had interests.
The contracts were for reclamation of land at the State House Medical Centre Abuja for N358.9 million and for a supply of medical consumables at a total sum of N36. 9 million.
EFCC said the offence contravened sections 12 and 19 of Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Act 2000. Justice Peter Affen, in his ruling on the defendant’s no case submission, held that the prosecution failed to establish a prima facie case against the defendant.
Affen said that the charges against the defendant was that he abused his office as a public servant and awarded contracts to companies he had interest in. He held that the prosecution did not establish the essential ingredients of the element of the offences he was charged.
He said: “Mere suspicion alone without concrete evidence is not enough to prefer a charge against a defendant.
“There was no evidence before the court showing the defendant’s appointment letter from the Civil Service Commission or anyone to demonstrate that he was a public servant.
“A political appointment is not the same as a civil servant.”
He held that the testimony of the prosecution’s first and second witnesses affirmed that the defendant did not play any role in the award of the said contracts.
Affen said: “I, hereby, discharge the defendant of all offences in the six count charges.” Fiberesima’s counsel, Granville Alibo (SAN), had filed a no case submission after the prosecution called five witnesses and closed their case.
Alibo had told the court that there was no degree of proof that the defendant was a public or civil servant where the provision of extant laws and rules applies. But, the prosecuting counsel, Mukhatar Ahmed, urged the court to set aside the no case submission and order the defendant to open his defence.
Justice Peter Affen who has always remained firm and focused on most of his ruling against arbitrariness and impunity against some prosecutors had berated some security and anti-graft agencies in the past for allegedly intimidating his court and for attempting to stall some cases in his court.
In one of celebrated cases, a security contractor engaged in fighting Boko Haram, Wolfgang Reinl had sued EFCC for N2b for allegedly detaining him for more than 6months without trial after confisticating his travel documents, phones and other documents.
The plaintiff’s lawyer, Mr. Afam Osigwe had approached the Court for the enforcement of his client’s fundamental human right, but the EFCC through its counsel, Mr. Ibrahim Audu told the court that the EFCC never detained Mr. Wolfgang let alone seizing his belongings. However, rather than allow the plaintiff to prove his case, the EFCC urged the court to dismiss the case for gross incompetence and for the court’s lack of jurisdiction.
The proceedings, however, took a twist when EFCC lawyer filed a preliminary objection to Wolfgang’s application.
Justice Affen who reserved ruling on the preliminary objection said the plaintiff has a right to sue but EFCC insisted that the plaintiff has no right or any fundamental right to claim before the court.
Apparently uncomfortable with the use of words by the EFCC lawyer, the Judge became enraged and told the EFCC not to wear the court out by dwelling on inanities. Justice Affen lambasted the EFCC for attempting to intimidate the court, warning the commission to drop its toga of arrogance before approaching his court.
“You are in court and I am the Dominis Litis here. This is not EFCC office. You must comport yourself. The problem is that you people (EFCC) have too much physical power and you carry it to everywhere you go. “This is not a motor park and you must not be throwing your hands anyhow and be shouting. When you come before me, you will never remain the same. You owe the court a duty of deference.
“Leave your policeman or EFCC powers at the door. Didn’t they teach you that in Law School?”, the Judge queried, saying it is wrong for people to raise all manners of objections to scuttle cases.
“Justice Affen averred that rather than relying on the affidavit deposed to by the Litigation Secretary, the two arresting officers should be the ones trying to convince the court as to whether they picked and detained Mr. Wolfgang or otherwise”.