By Ameh Ejekwonyilo
A Federal High Court sitting in Abuja, has cautioned the Chairman of Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission (ICPC) against not obeying directives of the court.
The presiding judge, Justice Nnamdi Dimgba warned the ICPC Chairman against misrepresenting proceedings of the court saying he took strong exceptions to a statement by the spokesperson of the Commission in respect of the suit filed by Pinnacle Communications Ltd against ICPC.
The judge was responding to complaints by Mr N. Ekanem (SAN), counsel to Pinnacle concerning a press release issued by ICPC spokesperson Rasheedat Okoduwa, which contained inaccurate references to proceedings of court.
” I don’t like it when parties misinterpret my position during proceeding, Justice Dimgba told counsel to ICPC, Mr E. A Shogunle, during yesterday’s sitting.
“Tell your chairman that I take strong exceptions to that.
“If it happens again, I will not take it lightly, Justice Dimgba warned.
Ekanem had reported to the court that ICPC issued a statement and published same on its website, which was in contempt of the court.
Ekanem said his client would take further action on the libellous aspects of the statement.
According to Ekanem, ICPC said that the chairman of Pinnacle Communications dragged the commission to court to stop being investigated on money laundering offence.
“That position is not correct. The chairman or Pinnacle cannot stop an agency of government from carrying out its statutory functions.
“They equally published on their website that an order was made by the court for chairman of Pinnacle to come and make statement at ICPC.
“We apply for record of the court proceeding, there was no such court order” Pinnacle’s counsel stated.
Ekanem expressed concern over the statement, describing it as a “sad development” because it was issued while the matter is still pending in court.
Secondly, Ekanem reminded the court that counsel to the ICPC, Shogunle had made an undertaking that the commission be given 21 days to conclude investiagation after which funds belonging to the company, domiciled in Zenith bank would be unfrozen.
However, he was dismayed that for almost 2 months now, ICPC has refused to unfreeze the account of Pinnacle.
The judge asked the ICPC counsel, who denied knowledge of the publication of the press release to convey his dissatisfaction to the Chairman of the ICPC.
The ICPC counsel had stated that he had been away and was just being aware of the position in court.
Pinnacle Communications had dragged the commission to court following the freezing of its account over an investigation into payment of N2.5 Billion by the National Broadcasting Commission (NBC).
Meanwhile, the court will on December 14 rule on an interlocutory application filed by Pinnacle seeking an order unfreezing it’s account with Zenith bank over allegation of N2.5billion fraud.