…Obla restates commitment to anti-graft battle
By Ameh Ejekwonyilo
Following the acquittal of a former prosecutor of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), Mr. Godwin Obla (SAN) by the anti-corruption agency on Wednesday, Mr. Obla has reiterated his commitment to supporting the Federal Government in its anti-graft efforts.
The Senior Advocate of Nigeria who was a lead prosecutor and won several financial graft cases for the EFCC, was reacting to his acquittal in a statement he issued on Wednesday in Abuja.
Obla said, “My history of service to the country in this regard is public knowledge and no temporary setback or personal misunderstanding is enough to obviate it. My time and resources will always be available to the Nigerian state within the strict parameters of the Rule of Law.
“Finally, for many years and before the advent of the present administration, I have carried the mantra of anti-corruption practitioner and Prosecutor for EFCC.
I have carried out my vocation with every sense of decency and responsibility, only employing the highest standards of professionalism required of me in the anti-corruption fight. I continue to remain steadfast to the nobility of my profession as a lawyer and Senior Advocate of Nigeria, and will always refrain from any act, which is capable of bringing the legal profession into disrepute.”
The EFCC terminated the prosecution of Mr. Obla by an amended charge and removal of his name on the charge sheet in Charge No: FHC/L/139C/ 2019 dated 17 April, 2019 between FRN v.1. Hon Justice Rita Ofili AJUMUOGOBIA AND GODWIN OBLA before HON. JUSTICE R. M. AIKAWA of the Federal High Court, Lagos.
Recall that the now suspended acting Chairman of the EFCC, Mr. Ibrahim Magu had charged Mr. Obla alongside Justice Rita Ajumuogobia on allegations of offering a judge bribe for judicial favours in a criminal trial – Charge No: FHC/L/C/482C/10 between FRN V. TEMISAN OMATSEYE, which he (Obla) conducted diligently for six (6) years, secured a conviction after 46 appearances from 2010 – 2016, on behalf of EFCC.
“Today marks the end of a long tortuous and arduous journey for Chief Godwin Obla SAN, formerly foremost EFCC special prosecutor and affirms the particularly malicious and brutish obsessions of Suspended/Former Acting Chairman of EFCC, Ibrahim Magu with the naked and reckless abuse of state power for private ends.
“The events of today is of eminent importance as it confirms that Ibrahim Magu completely derailed from the ethos of the EFCC and instead resorted to the unmitigated abuse of power as “Acting Chairman of the EFCC” manifested in the wrongful arrest, detention and prosecution of several persons for unsubstantiated offences, purely out of malevolence,” Mr. Obla said.
Prior to Ibrahim Magu’s advent as Acting Chairman of the EFCC, Mr. Obla was one of the lead prosecutors for the commission, where performed the EFCC’s instruction so creditably that in 2010, the Acting President, Goodluck Jonathan, constituted a legal team led by the erstwhile President of the Nigerian Bar Association, J.B. Daudu SAN and comprising of other eminent lawyers to investigate and prosecute various entities known as the “Halliburton Parties” (Technip, Snamprogetti, Kellog Brown, and Root, MARUBENI and the Japan Gas Corporation).
The legal team in the Halliburton prosecution successfully extracted fines in excess of $200 million in favour of the Federal Government of Nigeria, even though the legal architecture was not designed to extract that much. Chief Godwin Obla SAN had undertaken a lot of high profile prosecutions during the tenure of AIG Mrs. Farida Waziri (Rtd) including but not limited to the Central Bank of Nigeria/EFCC prosecution of bank Chiefs and was involved in the prosecution of Cecilia Ibru, formerly MD, Oceanic Bank Plc. He also led the prosecution of Chief Alao Akala, former Governor of Oyo State, Musbau Ikuforiji the former Speaker of Lagos State House of Assembly and a host of other matters. By virtue of various instructions by EFCC, Chief Godwin Obla SAN led the prosecution of over 40 high profile cases.