Ex-NDDC MDs’ Aide Demands Apology From EFCC Over Publication 

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Bayelsa .

Former Special Assistant on Youths Matters to two ex-Managing Directors of the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC), Barr. Alabh George Turnah, has described a recent syndicated publication against him by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) as defaming and malicious.

Turnah, now an Executive Assistant to the Bayelsa State Governor on Public Affairs and Social Orientation, has as a result demanded for an unreserved public apology from the nation’s anti-graft agency, noting that the EFCC’s publications were mischievous and malicious falsehood against his person.

Abuja365 gathered that the EFCC had recently syndicated a statement alleging that Turnah, alongside two others, were sentenced to six years imprisonment by a Federal High Court sitting in Port Harcourt, the Rivers State capital over financial improprieties.

Following the alleged falsehood being peddled by the anti-graft agency, accordingly Turnah in a statement made available to newsmen in Yenagoa at the weekend, he described the said publication as maligning, noting also that the EFCC has defamed his character through various media. 

He alleged that the act was orchestrated by the Head, Media & Publicity of the anti-graft agency, Mr Wilson Uwajaren, with the intention to disparage and put to public ridicule, his “hard earned public image”.

In further reaction to the said publication by the EFCC, Turnah has through his lawyers, Amuda-Kannike (SAN) and Co, Barristers, Solicitors and Corporate Consultants written to the anti-graft agency.

A letter to the EFCC by Turnah’s lawyers titled: “Protest Letter and Demand For Apology”, addressed to the  Acting Chairman of the EFCC, Mr Abdulkarim Chukkol, made available to newsmen reads in parts:  

“This unprofessional conduct of the EFCC spokesman is a sad event that should not happen under the watch, and even more importantly, under the administration of President (Bola) Tinubu, who is adjudged to be a complete democrat, and a product of the rule of law.

“Our clients are deeply concerned and saddened that the press release dated 11th September, 2023 with the caption, ‘N2.9 Billion Fraud: George Turnah, Two Others, Bag Six Years Jail Terms’, issued by the Head, Media and Publicity of the EFCC, is littered with deliberate falsehood and outright misrepresentation of facts in a manner that criminal defamation can be rightly inferred.

“Truly, judgement was delivered in the case by the Hon. Justice A.T Mohammed of the Federal High Court, Port Harcourt on Thursday, 7th September, 2023.

“Contrary to the false claim contained in the EFCC’s press release that our clients were convicted and sentenced to six years imprisonment for obtaining money under false pretence, money laundering, conversion of funds and forgery, the true fact is that our clients were discharged and acquitted of all the 23 count charge of Obtaining by false pretence, Money laundering and forgery/uttering contained in the charge. 

“It is important to note that the 23 count charge as preferred by the EFCC against our clients do not contain any offence/charge of conversion of funds as falsely contained in the EFCC’s press release.

“Contrary to the false claim contained in the EFCC’s press release that our clients were jailed on Thursday, September 7th, 2023, having been found guilty of charges preferred against them by the Port Harcourt Zonal Command of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), the true fact and position is that indeed, the Court held that the EFCC failed to prove any of the 23 count charge preferred against the 1st, 2nd, and 3rd defendants, our clients”.

According to his legal team, the EFCC maligning statement has further exposed the fact that they were seeking to deliberately suppress parts of the judgement which ordered them to immediately release George Turnah’s assets and finances, as well as account for all monies recovered during the course of their investigation which the EFCC is yet to obey.

 “The Court in the said Judgement ordered the immediate release of assets, properties and finances of our client (George Turnah) by reason of the failure of the EFCC to prove any of the 23 count charge preffered against him (George Turnah) in the said charge.

“This order, the EFCC is yet to obey, rather, the EFCC has already appealed the judgement as delivered, together with an application for stay of execution of the judgement.

“The Court in the judgement also ordered the EFCC to immediately account for all monies recovered from persons and individuals during the investigation activities of the case leading to the filing of the charge, and return all such monies to the Court. This order, the EFCC is also yet to comply and we are surprised why the EFCC’s press release did not capture these details.

“In the totality of the above, our clients are concerned that the EFCC, which is supposed to be a crime fighting organization could be so desperate to win cases at all cost, including intimidating and pressuring judges to help it secure unmerited convictions, and in the failure of which, turns around to dish out outright falsehood to the unsuspecting and vulnerable public all in a bid to destroy hard-earned public image of innocent Nigerians. 

“This is too bad, and it is our clients expectation that the EFCC should now operate within the ambit of the rule of law and decently so, under your able leadership, Mr. Chairman, Sir”.

Demanding an investigation into the purported falsehood as contained in the EFCC’s press release, the legal team has earlier urged the EFCC Acting Chairman to in good conscience direct the Head of Media & Publicity to offer public apology to Turnah, and others and state the correct facts as well as true position of things within the first 72 hours from the day and date the letter was received at their office.

The letter further reads: “We like to put on record that the EFCC by the judgement delivered by the Hon. Justice A.T. Mohammed of the Federal High Court, Port Harcourt on Thursday, 7th of September, 2023, failed woefully to prove even one of the entire 23 count charge preferred against our clients (George Turnah, Ebis Orubebe and Silas Uzogor Chidiebere). 

“This is the true fact as contained in the judgement. Any other brief you receive contrary to this, is FAKE and FALSE. 

“No wonder the EFCC’s press release could not specifically point out or highlight the specific counts our clients were allegedly convicted and sentenced out of the 23 counts brought by the EFCC. This in our view, should worry the Commission more, than spreading falsehood after failing to prove a single charge out of 23 alleged offences.

“it should be noted that our clients were never convicted nor sentenced by any court for offences of Obtaining money under false pretence, money laundering, forgery or uttering of forged documents preferred against them by the EFCC and as falsely contained in the said EFCC’s press release. 

“These offences as created under the relevant statutes, carry a minimum of seven (7) years imprisonment and a maximum of fourteen (14) years imprisonment as punishment without any option of fine. 

“In fact, for forgery and uttering, the punishment is 21 years imprisonment. These obvious provisions of the law certainly rubbishes the entire false narrative dished out in the public space by the EFCC’s Head of Media & Publicity, whom we expect, should know better”.

Turnah’s lawyers also expressed hope that the EFCC Chairman will use his good office and track record to correct the injustice done ti Turnah by the EFCC, by setting the records straight.

It would be recalled that penultimate week, the Federal High Court sitting in Port Harcourt, the Rivers State capital, had ordered the immediate release of George Turnah’s assets, and finances, ruling that the EFCC failed to prove any of the 23 count charge against him.

Similarly, many associates of the erstwhile aide to the two former MDs’ of the interventionist agency have condemned the press release by the EFCC, filing an appeal of the judgement which went in favour of the Turnah.

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