N500 million Suit: Determining EFCC Culpability

by Bob Etemiku

A Benin City High Court, on Tuesday 17th October 2019 gave leave to lawyers representing a Mr. Kehinde Samuel to serve Prof Osayuki Oshodin, former UNIBEN VC, and Faith Osadolor by substituted means, in a matter of the N500million suit slapped on the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, by Kehinde Samuel of the same institution. While the EFCC was served on 10th October, 2019, lawyers for Mr. Kehinde in an affidavit in support of the exparte motion said they found it very difficult to serve court papers related to the N500million suit taken against the EFCC. Both Prof Oshodin and Faith Osadolor are joined in the N500million suit as 2nd and 3rd respondents.

This order was granted by presiding Judge of Court 7 the Benin High Court in a motion exparte No. B/12/2019 brought pursuant to order 7 Rule 11 of the Edo State High Court (Civil Procedure) Rules 2018 and under the inherent Jurisdiction of the High Court.  Recall that Mr Kehinde Samuel of the ICT department of the University of Benin had carried out a forensic audit on the staff strength of the university, at the instruction of former VC. Prior to that forensic audit, the bursary department of the institution would send a list of staff to the registrar for approval. That approved list should ordinary pass through a performance appraisal, a process to verify actual number of staff of the institution. From the registrar’s office, the list then proceeds to a Federal government office for vetting and payment.

After he conducted a biometric staff audit and verification exercise, Mr. Kehinde said he discovered that the university had fraudulently earned N80million monthly from 2012 to 2015, a situation which currently subsists. Names of the dead, those on Sabbatical leave and those no longer on the employment of the University featured prominently on the forensic investigation.  Mr. Kehinde Samuel said he informed the VC, Prof Oshodin but the matter leaked leading the VC to sack Mr Kehinde on allegations of improper handling of university information.

But Mr. Kehinde took the facts related to his biometric investigations to the EFCC which invited the former UNIBEN VC Prof Oshodin for questioning. Prof Oshodin was said to have given the EFCC his own version of the list of staff of the university, leading the EFCC to turn on Mr. Kehinde, prosecuting him for allegedly proffering false accusations against the university and Prof Oshodin. Mr Kehinde Samuel got judgment in his favour, and an industrial court ordered his reinstatement as deputy director in the ICT department of UNIBEN. This led Mr. Kehinde Samuel to sue the EFCC for wrongful prosecution, demanding N500million and has joined the first & second respondents – Prof Osayuki Oshodin and Faith Osadolor.

The motion on exparte filed on behalf of Mr. Kehinde Samuel recommended pasting the statement of claim, witness deposition on oath to be pasted on the doors of the 2nd and 3rd defendants (at the Department of Health Environment and Human Kinetics, Faculty of Education, and Department of Public Law, Faculty of Law of the University respectively).

Keen watchers of this case do not understand why the EFCC did an about turn to prosecute the whistleblower and haul him before the Federal High Court in Benin City. After an online newspaper Alltimepost published an expose on corruption in UNIBEN, our sources revealed that management of the institution summoned an emergency meeting to address some of the issues raised in our story. Details of resolutions of that meeting are sketchy and no one knows if they include issues ranging from infrastructure decay, sex for marks and poor staff welfare. Recently, there was a demonstration by the students at the Ekewan campus of the university over power outages especially.

The case was adjourned to December 4, 2019 for hearing.

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