Controversy has trailed the appointment of the self acclaimed private investigator in the United kingdom, Victor Uwajeh by the Federal government, as a consultant to trace and recover undeclared assets and proceeds of fraud as part of the ongoing fight against corruption.
Already, a group of aggrieved lawyers has queried the appointment which was done by the Chairman of the presidential panel on Recovery of Public Property, PARP, Chief Okoi Obono Obla.
The aggrieved lawyers under the auspices of Lawyers Against Corruption (LAC) have threatened to drag to Chief Obla to court over the said appointment.
Confirming the appointment of Uwajeh to journalists , Chief Obla said the panel has the powers to co-opt anybody who can assist in the recovery of government properties.
“Why do you want to confirm his appointment. We have the powers to appoint anybody to assist us in our job.
“He is a very experienced professional investigator who has worked the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) and has a track record on money tracing and asset recovery and we need his experience in helping us to carry out our mandate.
“It will interest you to know that he is doing it for free as a patriotic Nigerian.”
However, the lawyers wondered why a man who has a four-count criminal charge pending against him in court should be appointed by the panel.
Justice John Tsoho of the Abuja division of the Federal High Court has declared Uwajeh, who has been evading court summons as a fugitive of the law.
The judge further berated the Nigeria Police for protecting a fugitive of the law, after he was told by the prosecution counsel, Aminu Alilu that he was under police protection.
Before the Federal High Court, Victor Victor Uwajeh is facing a four court charge bordering on forgery, documents falsification, fraud and procuring forged documents.
The court has since granted the request made by the Federal government to serve criminal summons on Uwajeh through substituted means, by pasting at his premises.
Justice Tsoho granted the application after counsel to the Federal government, Alilu informed the court that Uwajeh had on several times evaded service as he did previously.
FG alleged that Uwajeh tried to obtain money through fraudulent means from Senator Andy Uba who is representing Anambra South Senatorial District.
Uwajeh was said to have been indicted by an investigation of a crack team from the Nigerian Police Force conducted on a petition that was written to the Inspector General of Police, IGP, Mr. Ibrahim Idris, by Senator Uba.
The Senator had in his petition, accused Uwajeh of attempting to use forged and illegally procured documents to extort money from him.
However, when the matter came up for hearing on Wednesday, Alilu informed the court that one of the court bariff who went with the policeman at Uwajeh’s residents was almost shot by the policeman guiding his house.
“one of the bailiff went to the address of the defendant at No:9 Jesse Jackson street Asokoro and was almost shot by the policemen guarding his house.
“The defendant is aware of this matter. His counsel had pleaded that he travelled to the United States and that once he return, he will appear in court.
“I know that it is not yet ripe to make an application for a bench warrant. However, I will apply section 124 of the Administration of Criminal Justice Act for leave of the court to paste a copy of the Criminal of the Criminal summon in a conspicuous part in the premises where he resides”, he said.
Justice Tsoho after listening to the submissions wondered why someone that the state wants to bring to justice will be protected by the same people looking for him, he wondered why the police will be protecting a fugitive from the law.
He urged the people going to effect the service at his residence to be careful and mindful of what had already played out.
He held that, “giving the circumstances, section 124 has become inevitable. Accordingly, the application is granted. Service should be effected on Uwajeh through substituted means”.
The matter was subsequently adjourned to May 21 for arraignment.
The group of lawyers in a statement signed by its National President, Ahmed Lukma and the Secretary, Mr. Liman Shuaibu, there has been some unconfirmed online media that a fugitive of the law has been appointed a consultant by the PARP.
The group further added that it will challenge the action in court to proved that Victor Uwajeh is a man of questionable character citing instances on how he allegedly down loaded EFCC files during the tenure of Mrs Farida Waziri as the Executive Chairman of the EFCC when he paraded a fake certificate as a United kingdom private investigator extorting money from politically exposed persons.
According to the group, Uwajeh was docked by the EFCC, for impersonation before a FCT high court.
The group further added that the certificate Victor Uwajeh is parading was issued to him last year in the United Kingdom as a license to work as a human and vehicle access controller, elevator and office building guarding and car park operator. This license was issued to Victor Uwajeh on the 26th May, 2017 with license number 100390916576656, issued by the Security Industry Authority (sia) UK. This is information is verifiable. All other security licenses been paraded by Uwajeh are fake and forged documents and they are downloadable free of charge on google.
The group further alleged that if allowed Uwajeh will download government files in the federal ministry of Justice and start extorting money from politically exposed persons.
The group also said that they will do everything within the ambit of the law to stop the purported appointment of Victor Uwajeh aka Olikaeze Onicha Ugbo in a court of competent jurisdiction.
Meanwhile, another legal practitioner, Anayo Adibe condemned the said appointment while questioning the credibility of Uwajeh.
In a press statement in Abuja, Adigbe said his character as at present remain in doubt to hold public office until he presents himself bona fide to clear his name, and establish that his character remains in good stead.
” It presents a great obstacle to the intellect to fathom the reasons for and ramifications of Victor Osita Uwajeh’s proposed appointment to a Federal Government office as a ‘consultant on asset recovery’.
“The gentleman – l use the label merely in respect of formal convention- in question is, until he presents himself bona fide to clear his name, and establish that his character remains in good stead. This is public business, and we as honest members of the Nigerian public retain the right to scrutinise those who are mandated to act of our collective behalf.
Meanwhile, as it were, let us attend to the facts of the matter. Uwajeh, allegedly a private investigator based in the United Kingdom, who apparently also operates under the alia of ‘Olikaeze Onichaugbo’ is under prosecution by the Attorney General of the Federation for charges including conspiracy, criminal impersonation, fraud and forgery in CHARGE No.FHC/ABJ/CR/148/2017 FRN. Vs. VICTOR OSITA UWAJEH. The case is held before Hon. Justice John Tsoho of the Federal High Court, Abuja. Uwajeh stands accused of defrauding British authorities by way of forged documents. Following a report on the issue:
“A preliminary investigation conducted to verify these bogus certificates Victor Uwajeh is using to deceive and defraud unsuspecting people shows that the certificate Victor Uwajeh is parading was issued to him last year 2017 in the United Kingdom as a permit to work as a human and vehicle access controller, elevator and office building guarding and car park operator. This license was issued to Victor Uwajeh on the 26th May, 2017 with license number 100390916576656, issued by the Security Industry Authority (SIA), UK. This is information is verifiable. All other security licenses being paraded by Uwajeh are fake and forged documents which are downloadable free of charge of the internet. This is a brief character of a person that will be appointed as a consultant to an anti corruption agency.”
It is a season of anomy truly when a country offers no moral or logical support in times of great absurdity, but rather compounds and contributes to the pandemonium that runs rampant within her boundaries. The question that is left begging; who is next for appointment? Shall we venture to Kirikiri and make Honorables and Chairmen of the constituent inmates? Or perhaps we should round up the bank robbers and make them bank account officers; or let us make pharmacists of drug pushers; mechanics of auto-vandals; day-care teachers of kidnappers. I believe I am quite right to stretch the matter ad absurdum, because it is frankly rather absurd.
What is the logic behind it? Perhaps the masterminds behind this decision have reasoned that since Uwajeh is on trial for fraud, among other counts, he would be in a position better to understand the impropriety he would be investigation. The proposal is a laughable one, but it is bitter laughter indeed. It is a gaffe, plain and simple.
Now, I am not condemning Uwajeh outright; as the rule of law holds the accused is innocent until proven guilty. Such matters are to be left to the judge in a court of law. But what is to be said of a man who has so egregiously refused to stand trial and provide himself the opportunity to clear himself of his charges? He remains, as described by the presiding judge, ‘a fugitive of the law’, and certainly a man of dubious character. What it is certain, is that this is not someone who appears worthy of such an appointment.
If we are to persist with this rewarding of a disregard of our nation’s laws, we are only complicit in the soiling of our reputation on a grand stage. Have we no remnant sense of propriety? If we do not take ourselves seriously and hold ourselves to some standard, we are only quickening a downhill slope into a dovetail of ludicrousity and disrepute. To drop metaphor, if we do not respect ourselves – and with such decisions as the one to appoint Uwajeh, we seem so hellbent on disrespecting ourselves- no one else will respect us. Let us put our house in order and call ourselves back to sanity.