A Federal High Court in Abuja has freed the Director of Finance and Accounts in the Federal Ministry of Works, Power and Housing, Ibrahim Tumsah, and his brother, Tijani Tumsah, arraigned for allegedly failing to declare their assets.
Ibrahim and Tijani (Vice Chairman of the Presidential Initiative on North East) were arraigned on a two-count charge marked FHC/ABJ/CR/4/2018, filed last year by the Special Presidential Investigation Panel on the Recovery of Public Property (SPIP), headed by Okoi Obono-Obla.
The panel had, upon an order of court, seized 86 luxurious vehicles, four houses and a quarry plant in Abuja which the panel claimed belonged to the two defendants.
In a ruling on Monday, Justice Inyang Edem Ekwo, held that the SPIP lacked the powers to file charges against anyone and could also not prosecute anyone for any infraction as it relates to the law that created it.
The judge said there is nowhere in the SPIP establishment Act, where the panel is given power to engage in prosecution or filing of charges on behalf of the Federal Government, the Federal Republic of Nigeria or the Attorney General of the Federation (AGF) as it has done.
Justice Ekwo said, by the law establishing the SPIP, its powers ends after concluding its investigation on any case and submitting its findings to the President of the country.
The judge said by virtue of an earlier judgment of the Court of Appeal in Abuja, to the effect that the SPIP cannot prosecute, his court’s jurisdiction is ousted on the charge against the Tumsah brothers until the judgement is set aside by a superior court.
The judge proceeded to dismiss the charge and discharged the two defendants.