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Perpetual Injunction: The Tool Governors Use To Get Away With Fraud

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Corruption has come to stay in Nigeria and the law seems to be enabling it. Little wonder Governors are getting away with fraud. No thanks to the deployment of perpetual injunction. This public officials do everything possible to evade Justice after dipping their hands into the cooking jar (public treasury). 

Perpetual injunction is a legal term Governors now deploy to get away with fraud and shield themselves from facing due process. 

Muhammadu Buhari in Port Harcourt with Nyesom Wike
Muhammadu Buhari in Port Harcourt with Nyesom Wike

During the week, the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) raised the alarm that the Rivers State Government led by Governor Ezenwo Nyesom Wike is shielding three officials of the state, from being investigated over alleged illegal withdrawal of N118billion public funds.

The  said amount was allegedly withdrawn by the Director of Finance, Government House, Fubara Siminalayei, Tonye Uranta, and Harisonba Princewill over the counter in suspicious manner.One of the officials allegedly withdrew over N70billion in cash, about 129 times over a period of three years.

The anti graft agency narrated how its effort to question the suspects was frustrated by the Rivers State Government. It said, “We went to the houses of these three officials to serve them invitation letters but they refused to collect it. The security guards in their personal residences said they were under instructions not to collect any letter from EFCC. “

Perpetual injunction has become synonymous with corruption in Nigeria, as it frustrates even the best of lawyers, including the highly respected Senior Advocates of Nigeria (SANs). When they get this order from a willy nilly judge who is ready to be an accomplice to a crime, the beneficiary of such injunction dares the victim to go to court and vacate the order. More like a case of, catch me if you can.

That was exactly what Governor Nyesom Wike did during the week. While reacting to the outburst from EFCC, the governor asked the commission to go to court and vacate the order granting its perpetual injunction from any arrest, adding that his administration will not release its officials for investigation. Wow, you might want to exclaim. 

Hear the governor, “We have repeatedly said that the state government will not release its officials to the EFCC for investigations until the commission approaches the court to set aside subsisting orders of perpetual injunction granted by various courts of competent jurisdiction restraining the EFCC from investigating or inquiring into the financial transactions of the Rivers state government including its ministries, departments and agencies.”

Can you beat that? In a sane society? A governor so damning in flouting due process? What is Governor Wike hiding from all of us? These officials have not been pronounced guilty. They are being invited for interrogation and questioning. If they are clean, they will simply walk away freely from  EFCC’s den. Or are we missing anything here?  Do the three officials and Governor Wike know what we don’t? 

This perpetual injunction trend appears to be a Rivers state thing, because when his other fellow ex – Governors like Joshua Dariye, Jonah Jang both of Plateau state and Jolly Nyame of Taraba state are languishing in correctional facilities due to graft, his excellency, Peter Odlil is having a nice time enjoying from his largess following a his stinct as a former governor of Rivers state. 

Upon finishing his tenure as helmsman of the oil rich state in 2007, to stay free from the troubles of EFCC, Mr. Odili quietly obtained an order from the court restraining the anti – corruption body from arresting or investigating him. It’s being over 13 years since he left office, Odili, whose wife Mary, is a justice of the Supreme Court has become an untouchable of a sort. 

The EFCC and other anti – corruption agencies appear to be helpless when it comes to this perpetual injunction. 

There has to be a way around this thing. The law cannot be so weak that, it allows some set of persons get away with sleaze, a huge one for that matter. 

The National Judicial Commission (NJC) in late 2019, summoned Justice Ibrahim N. Buba, the judge that granted the perpetual injunction order to Odili. nothing has come off it, otherwise a fellow occupant of the Rivers State seat of power would not be brandishing the perpetual injunction order. 

Moving forward, the NJC should move away from just summons and adopt severe disciplinary measures aimed at forestalling this perpetual injunction madness that is altering every common sense of justice.

You can’t be running away from being investigated if you have nothing to hide. The law was created to dispense justice and not to be taken advantage of. If such loopholes exist that allows it to be manipulated by men of evil conscience, the onus is on relevant bodies like the Nations Assembly and members of the bar and bench to swing into action and correct this anomaly. 

As for Governor Wike and those he is protecting, it is a moral burden on them to do the needful. If the said officials are inooncrnt, the law will dispense justice in that regard. And as for the citizenry and people of Rivers in particular, there goes your leaders. They sworn to protect and defend your interest. But with a staggering sum of N118bn of tax payers money allegedly withdrawn from the state’s coffers, whose interest are they protecting? 

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