The nominal complainant in the alleged N170.3 million Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS) contract fraud case has petitioned the police against the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) prosecutor for alleged “threat to life, assault and battery.”
Benjamin Joseph, who is also the Managing Director of an Ibadan-based IT firm, Citadel Oracle Concept Limited, accused the anti-graft agency’s lawyer, Jude Obozuwa, of slapping him in his office in Abuja.
In the petition dated January 27 and addressed to the Commissioner of Police, FCT Police Command, counsel to Mr Joseph, Messr. Jude Mmuoka of Mmuoka & Associates (Legal Practitioners & Arbitrators), accused Mr Obozuwa of attacking his client on January 17, 2020.
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A copy of the petition was obtained by PREMIUM TIMES on Monday in Abuja. In the petition, Mr Mmuoka said Mr Obozuwa, who is prosecuting some suspects named in the fraud case, “assaulted and battered” his client in his office.
Mr Mmuoka said another counsel to his client, Femi Falana, a Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN), had contacted the Head of the Legal Department of the EFCC to complain about the unprofessional and reckless manner Mr Obozuwa was handling the prosecution of the fraud case.
The case is currently ongoing before Justice D. Senchi of the Federal Capital Territory High Court in Jabi, Abuja.
To enable the Head of the Legal Department of the EFCC to hear from both parties, Mr Mmuoka said Mr Obozuwa and Mr Joseph were invited for a meeting at the anti-graft agencies’ office in Zone 7 area of Abuja.
At the EFCC office, Mr Mmuoka said when his client saw Mr Obozuwa and stretched out his hand to greet him, he ignored the gesture, and instead “shouted at him to remove his filthy hands from him.”
He said after some minutes, Mr Joseph, still shocked over the prosecutor’s strange reaction, went to meet him in his office to enquire the reason for his mode of conduct.
Again, Mr Mmuoka said Mr Obozuwa shouted at Mr Joseph and demanded to know why he wanted to greet him, when his lawyers wrote petitions to criticise his handling of the prosecution of the fraud case.
“He threatened to deal mercilessly with our client, and even claimed that he was ready to leave the EFCC job because of our client’s case,” Mr Mmuoka said.
When Mr Joseph told him he had no reason to threaten to leave his job if his handling of the case and other actions were justifiable, Mr Mmuoka said Mr Obozuwa became angry.
“He did not only assault and batter our client, Mr Obozuwa also threatened to deal with our client,” Mr Mmuoka said.
“We have found this action of a supposed law enforcement official not only reprehensible but a flagrant abuse of power and a naked display of impunity, which must be curtailed,” he said.
Consequently, Mr Mmuoka demanded the immediate prosecution of Mr Obozuwa for illegally and unlawfully assaulting and battering Mr Joseph so as to serve as a deterrent to others in the society.
At the opening of the defence of two of the seven suspects in the fraud case last Thursday, Mr Obozuwa repeated in open court his threat to deal with Mr Joseph.
The prosecutor denied slapping Mr Joseph but said he merely “pushed” him after he accused him of taking a bribe to compromise the investigation.
“Everyone knows I will not take money. Find out at EFCC. I don’t take a bribe. I prosecuted governors in 13 states. I did not take money. Who is he? We know what we do around people like him who tell us that?” Mr Obozuwa threatened in the courtroom of the Federal Capital Territory High Court in Jabi, Abuja.
Mr Obozuwa was reacting to Mr Joseph’s statement in the same court that the prosecutor slapped him across the face in his office in front of a CTV camera.
“My Lord, I am being shut out of this case by the prosecutor. I have not been given the chance to say anything to defend myself of all the allegations against me. The prosecutor even slapped me in his office when I went to see him. He said I wrote a petition against his poor handling of this case.
“My Lord, he has been very mean and very wicked to me. I don’t think I will have justice in this case with this man (pointing at Jude Obozuwa, the EFCC lawyer) as my prosecutor. My Lord, he slapped me in front of (CTV) camera in his office,” Mr Joseph told the court.