18th August, 2011
A Lagos landlady, Mrs. Ifueko Karibi-Whyte, in her bid to enforce her fundamental right, has dragged Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) before a Federal High Court in Lagos, Southwest Nigeria.
Also joined as co-respondents in the ensuing legal battle are Alstom Nigeria Company and a Lagos lawyer, Dr. Adefulu Odujinrin.
In an affidavit sworn to by Mrs. Karibi-Whyte, it was averred that herself and one Ms Izin Isoken Eke are landladies of 40, Cameron Road, Ikoyi, Lagos.
Sometimes in February 2011, they decided to lease the property through an agent, Kanu Ireogbu and Associates, while about the same time, Alstom Nigeria Limited expressed interest in the same property by its offer through its agent, Bilcor Nigeria Limited.
The property was leased to Alstom Nigeria Limited for N10 million per annum for three years, totalling N30 million which was paid and the keys were handed over to it and consequently took over possession.
However, when the applicant’s solicitor drew up the agreement and forwarded same to the company, it raised an objection to a clause of residential in accordance with the applicant’s instruction and Lagos State City Plan for Ikoyi-Victoria Island, saying it had wanted the property for commercial use.
Subsequently, the company demanded for the severance of the lease and remittance of all monies paid for the property, even when the keys were in its possession.
However, one 21 June, 2011, the applicant averred further, that she received a letter from the EFCC at the instance of Alstom Company, alleging conspiracy and fraud on a purely commercial transaction which came to a stalemate.
In view of this, she urged the court to declare that the transaction is commercial within the ambit of civil law. She is also praying the court to restrain the EFCC and its agents from arresting her.
However, Alstom Company and its counsel, Dr. Adefulu Odujinrin, in their counter affidavit sworn to by the Business Development Manager of the company, Mr. Tola Sapara, it was averred that the anti-graft agency invited all the parties to its office for questioning and investigation of the matter and at the said meeting, Mrs. Karibi-Whyte and her husband made a promise to refund of the money.
Therefore, the instant application is an attempt by the applicant to stop the anti-graft agency from carrying out its statutory function of investigation and the prosecution of financial crime in line with the act that set it up.
The respondents averred further that the purpose for which the property was to be used for was made known to the applicant but she made a U-turn after collecting money from them despite the fact that she had instructed her agent to negotiate the letting of the property with he company.
The respondents also averred that the property, being a twin duplex and the adjourning twin duplex owned by her sister is presently used as an office.
They then contended that grating the applicant’s prayer will work great injustice against the company whose N36 million is with her and which she has refused to refund despite numerous demands to do so and consequently urged the court to dismiss the application on the ground that it is premature, frivolous and escapist in nature.