A Port Harcourt based lawyer, Barrister Enekwechi Raymond Onyimba, has decried the negative influence some politicians bring to bear on operatives of Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, (EFCC) to settle scores stressing that such tendencies deny the anti-graft body of the much needed public goodwill and confidence.
EFCC recently arraigned Onyimba at the Federal High Court, Enugu; on a two-count charge bothering on fraud and obtaining property under false pretense alleging that the accused had sometime in 2006 in Enugu, fraudulently converted to his personal use, a Statutory Certificate of Occupancy dated August 17, 1990, registered as No 85 page 85 volume 1315 of the Enugu State Land Registry in respect of Plot 622 Trans Ekulu, New GRA, Enugu.
He was accused of inducing the owners of the property, Enyinnaya Igwe and Ezechukwu Chidozie Maxwell, to place under his care and custody, the property worth N30million under the false pretense that the said Statutory Certificate of Occupancy would be released when he fully sells the land.
But Onyimba, who spoke to newsmen in Enugu yesterday, disclosed that after suffering undue incarceration for eight days in EFCC cell, he was forced to pay three million disputed debts with Diamond Bank PLC.
While blaming his political rivals for the EFCC action despite a pending matter in the Federal High Court, Enugu Division in suit No: FHC/EN/CS/5/12, OJAZ Nigeria Limited Vs Diamond Bank Plc, Onyimba said his suit FHC/EN/CS/186/2013 Barrister Enekwechi Raymond Onyimba Vs Mathanus Nnanna Nzeh and 2 ors; challenging the outcome of the recent local council poll in Enugu instigated his detractors to breach due process.
He pointed out that as a result of the devious plot of his political rivals, EFCC not only charged him to court for the controversial bank debt but that those who caused his travails in the hands of the EFCC started disparaging his name through syndicated false reports in some newspapers.
Giving a background to the case, the legal practitioner explained how some time in 2006 he obtained a loan facility of N3.4 million from Diamond Bank Plc using his landed property as collateral adding that though he defrayed the loan, on his attempt to retrieve the Certificate of Occupancy from the Bank, he was asked to pay N15 million charges which he contested.
“Around 2008/9 I sold part of the plot but because I subdivided the plot and sold part I did not bother to give the C of O to the property. Later I sold the remaining portion and decided to retrieve the C of O from Daimond Bank Plc only for them to claim that I still have an outstanding N15 million to pay as charges on the N3.4 million loan.
“I challenged the accrued charges asking the Bank to explain how a loan of N3.4 million that have been offset should attract sundry charges of N15 million. While the case was pending in Court my political adversaries brought pressures on EFCC to ensure that I was compelled to pay the charges which by then had been reduced by Diamond Bank to N3 million, which I still debated,” he narrated.
He expressed surprise that even after being bullied into paying the dubious N3 million charges to the Bank, he was charged to court ostensibly to provide basis for his political detractors to start vilifying him on the pages of newspapers saying that he was docked for N30 million in a land deal which he said was strange to the facts of the matter.
The lawyer enjoined journalists to be wary of politicians whose stock in trade is to use the media to pursue narrow political interests stressing that it was unethical for the press to publish such an allegation without cross checking the facts.
“Such trial in the media not only offends ethics but it taints the credibility that ordinarily attends to media content. No attempt was made to interrogate why EFCC should meddle into a business transaction between a commercial bank and its customer or the authenticity of land purchase and conveyance,” the lawyer declared