Ebun-Olu Adegboruwa: Exposing EFCC as Bulldog for Silencing Opposition? | Independent Newspapers Limited
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Ebun-Olu Adegboruwa: Exposing EFCC as Bulldog for Silencing Opposition?

Posted: Jun 30, 2016 at 3:47 pm   /   by   /   comments (0)

Recently, human rights campaigner and lawyer, Ebun-Olu Adegboruwa was in the dragnet of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission over a curious allegation of fraud. But the intrepid lawyer says the anti-graft agency is merely being used simply because he dared poke his fingers in the face of what he perceives as rank impunity in the style of the Buhari-led Federal Government, writes STEPHEN UBIMAGO in this piece….

The natural candor of lawyer and human rights campaigner, Mr. Samuel Edun-Olu Adegboruwa, especially at a time it appears a growing number of Nigerians are losing to partisan affiliation their sense of objectivity in their assessment of goings-on in the country, has continued to endear him to his admirers, who maintain that his unswerving devotion to truth advertises him as a refreshing oasis in a desert.

At a time primordial considerations seem to have gotten the better of intellectual honesty among Nigerians, Adegboruwa has managed to remain true to the admonition of his mentor, late Chief Gani Fawehinmi, who while alive had declared, “Stand up for what is right, even if you are standing alone.”

To illustrate: although Adegboruwa was neither briefed nor remunerated, he however conscientiously supported and defended the presidential ambition of then candidate Muhammadu Buhari of the opposition All Progressives Congress (APC) when a suit to disqualify him over his educational qualification was brought before Justice Adeniyi Ademola of a Federal High Court in Abuja ahead the March 28 presidential election.

Adegboruwa had applied to be joined as party on the side of the APC flag-bearer in a strategic move to frustrate the nay-sayers to the Buhari candidacy.

The lawyer explained that he believed it was too precarious for the country’s political stability to at the eleventh hour bring the court to stop a then popular candidate, hence his involvement.

Besides, since the matter was of pre-election genus, hearing in it could still wait until after the election whereupon it could be resurrected at the instance of the claimants; hence, why the pointless rush.

“It was a matter of conscientious intervention for me at the time,” he declared to explain that he had nothing personal with the president when suddenly in June, last year, he began to wax restive and critical of the president in the light of his tardy treatment of the issue of appointing cabinet ministers and others.

According to him, the move then to stop Buhari was nearly reminiscent of the infamous activities of the Association for Better Nigeria (ABN), which upon securing an injunctive order from late Justice Bassey Ikpeme, stalled the announcement of the entire results of the June 12, 1993 presidential elections, which thereby rendered the election inconclusive.

The point to be made is, if Adegboruwa is ever a blind follower or supporter, it is strictly to his core values of truth, justice and fundamental human rights; not to any politician.

Hence, that he’d once been a conscientious Buhari supporter, especially during the build-up to the election, did not spell a foreclosure on his leaning afterwards.

It did not imprison his conscience as to goad him to continue blindly in that tenor if criticizing him best emblematize his personal ethos.

Prophets are therefore made of Adegboruwa’s ilk, for they are slaves of truth and justice, hence are gifted with vision.

When the lawyer in June, last year, took out an originating summons against the president over his curious sluggishness in constituting his cabinet, only few Nigerians saw the move as that of a fearless ‘prophet’.

Adegoruwa had hinted that the president’s lethargic approach to forming his cabinet would badly hurt the national economy on the long run, and therefore the instrument of law should be deployed to compel him to act, otherwise the man might as well resign honorably.

By constitutional provisions, Buhari cannot continue in office if he could not constitute a cabinet a month after his inauguration, Adegboruwa submitted in the affidavit deposed to by him in support of his application.

“If the 1st Respondent (the president) is not prepared to appoint qualified persons into office as ministers of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, he should not be allowed to continue to function in office as the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, in flagrant violation of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria,” he stated.

He maintained, “The failure, neglect or refusal to appoint qualified persons into the offices of Ministers of the government of the Federation almost 25 days after the 1st Respondent assumed the office of the president is capable of collapsing the economy of this nation.”

Any wonder that nearly 14 months since Buhari assumed office as president, the tale of economic woes has been precipitous as it has percolated down, drawing its ominous arch over persons as well as private and public institutions. In short, the entire gamut of national life has not been spared.

The question is thus compelled: Was Adegboruwa being prophetic when he made the foreboding submission in the said application?

Criticism for its very own sake can at best be self-serving, as it is not a function of clear vision nor the vibrations from an honest mind.

According to Adegboruwa, the above mindset is what guides his censorious attitude to power.

While many elements in the human rights community have practically abandoned their creed in their seeming politically-correct silence amid the varied human rights infractions being perpetrated under the Buhari-led government, the lawyer has been vocal in taking the administration to the cleaners over the development, and in putting it to task over its constitutional responsibilities.

From the massacre of the Shiite sect in Zaria, Kaduna State, to the serial extrajudicial killings of pro-Biafra agitators; from government’s seeming aloofness to Fulani herdsmen attacks in parts of the country to the president’s apparent selective anti-corruption campaign, Adegboruwa’s criticism of the government has been audacious.

From the president’s lopsided appointment of officers into his government to favour a certain part of the country to his ostensible decimation of the opposition, the lawyer’s condemnation of the government has been trenchant.

And suddenly from the blues came the news that the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) had filed criminal charges bordering on obtaining money under false pretence against the intrepid lawyer.

While arraigning Adegboruwa before Justice Oluremi Oguntoyinbo of a Federal High Court, sitting in Lagos, the EFCC on Thursday May 12, accused him of fraud in the sum of N61 million.

In the charge sheet, the EFCC said Adegboruwa and one Jonathan Udeagbala in August 2013 allegedly conspired to lease a property situated at House 105, Nicon Town Estate, Lekki, Lagos to a company named Shelf Drilling Nigeria Limited for that amount; that the property is under an interim forfeiture order by Justice Christopher Balogun of the Lagos State High Court; that the money was credited to Adegboruwa’s Zenith Bank account.

According to the EFCC, this was an offense punishable under Section 32(1) of the EFCC Act 2004.

But in his defense, Adegboruwa stressed that in truth there is no genuine case of fraud against him.

He maintained that EFCC’s action is nothing but its customary shenanigan to silence him in the light of his vocal criticism of the president.

According to a statement from his chambers, “Ebun-olu Adegboruwa, esq. has been receiving unofficial complaints from the EFCC about his opposition to the Buhari administration and has ever been threatened with the above dead case.

“But the threats became more rampant upon his brief in the case of Chief Government Ekpemupolo (alias Tompolo) and especially Mr. Azibaola Robert, cousin of former President Goodluck Jonathan.

“On May 4, 2016, our firm appeared in Tompolo’s case at the Federal High Court, Lagos and May 4, 2016, our firm filed a suit in court for the release of Jonathan’s cousin.

“On May 5, 2016, EFCC filed a case against Mr. Adegboruwa.

“He is being persecuted for speaking against the Buhari regime. There is no way a criminal case can be maintained against Mr. Adegboruwa as the criminal case upon which the case is based has been dismissed.

“Mr. Adegboruwa did not collect money for any property but acted as a mediator for settlement and he acted upon the lawful instructions of his client.”

This street (public interest) lawyer is known to have fought and won for the masses such celebrated cases that include: Adegboruwa v. AGF & Ors., which bordered on the Ikoyi-Lekki link bridge; and Adegboruwa v. Lekki Concession Company & Ors., which bordered on the illegal toll-gate fee collection by the Lagos State Government.

Others are: Adegboruwa v. NCC & Ors., which bordered on inefficient services and the exploitative pricing of telecoms service by operators in Nigeria; and Adegboruwa v. LASG & Ors., which bordered on Lagos State House of Assembly’s moves to excise, remove and privatize the probate registry of the High Court of Lagos State.

Born on March 21, 1965 in Ondo State, Adegboruwa attended the Obafemi Awolowo University (OAU), Ile Ife, Osun State, where he bagged a Bachelor of Laws (LLB) with honors; and was admitted to the Nigerian Law School in Lagos wherefrom he was called to bar.