A Port Harcourt Pastor, Apostle Eugene Ogu, who is on bail for allegedly duping a Czech based company, Globiz International of over US$15.000.000, has obviously colluded with EFCC officials and Rivers State Police to arrest and detain for eight and 21 days respectively the complainant in a fraud case against him.
The victim, Larry Obasi, a Nigerian born businessman resident in the Czech Republic, who is pursuing justice against the controversial pastor had gone to the EFCC FCDA office on 17 May 2011 under the ruse that it was in furtherance of the petition he wrote against the pastor, who is the founder and leader of Abundant Life Ministries Port Harcourt. But unknown to him an EFCC believed by many to have rotted under Chairman, Farida Waziri had perfected plans to arrest, detain and fly him to Lagos and Port-Harcourt, obeying the behest of a high bidder.
From investigations carried out, sometime in 2007, Obasi filed a petition with the EFCC against Apostle Ogu for defrauding their company, Globiz International of about US$15.000.000 as a result of failing to pay for goods shipped to him. It was further alleged that the said pastor also attempted to defraud Obasi and his European partners of millions of dollars under the false pretence that he had oil he wanted to sell to them, but when Globiz investigated the authenticity of the offer, it turned out to be sham.
Pastor Ogu wrote in 2006 to Globiz a letter of offer to sell to them crude oil which turned out to be false. But before then Globiz Partners have lost over 50,000 USD due to the misrepresentations of the pastor. Copies of agreements and correspondences between the parties were made available to the EFCC, and some of the letters were written via the Church’s email account and signed by Ogu himself.
It is also on the petition that Ogu failed to remit contract money it collected on behalf of Globiz International to the Czech company. It was money Ogu was authorized, as agent, to collect on behalf of the company for contracts executed by Formtrade –Skodaexport Czech Republic for The National Board For Technical Education (NBTE) across Nigeria. The Dossier Globiz submitted to EFCC should have overwhelmingly indicted the Pastor.
But instead of prosecuting Ogu, EFCC Port Harcourt scandalously said that he had no case to answer. But with immense pressure mounted by the Czech Embassy, whose officials and Globiz directors at one point met with EFCC Chairman, Farida Waziri, the file was called to Abuja and reinvestigated. The result was that Abuja said that Ogu has a case to answer and the file was sent back to EFCC Port Harcourt for further action but they put the case again back in the cooler.
Several calls by lawyer to Globiz as to the status of the matter got the answer that the matter was in their legal department. However, when The Sun and other newspapers and magazines carried the story early this year, EFCC felt the heat and reopened the case. New IPO, Mr Salihu Khan of EFCC FCDA office was asked to take over the case. Thrice Larry Obasi and Pastor Ogu were invited to EFCC Abuja, as according to the EFCC, they wanted to “harmonize the case against Ogu.” Thrice Ogu, who is on bail, failed to honour the invitation and thrice EFCC did nothing.
It is noteworthy that when Globiz filed the petition against Ogu in 2007, instead of dealing judiciously with such a case with international dimension, Ogu was merely invited to EFCC and within minutes he was given bail on self recognizance and his international passport was never taken away from him. It is on record that he has since travelled abroad on several occasions. According to Obasi, Ogu had once boasted of his connection to Ex-Governor Peter Odili, Rotimi Amechi and other powerful men and had openly told Obasi that he was wasting his time. If Obasi thought he was bragging, his recent experience with the EFCC must be making him to think twice now.
“It is obvious that Mr Ogu is sponsoring and using state agencies to intimidate me with a view to breaking my resolve to see that he is brought to book for his fraudulent actions. If not, how else can the EFCC fly in two operatives from Lagos to come and pick me up from their FCDA office, lodge them in hotel for two days and paid the flight of three people back to Lagos on a mere frivolity that a person, obviously sponsored by Ogu wrote petition against me for something they claimed happened in 2002? If it were public fund they used, then someone should be prosecuted for wasting tax payers’ money. And again they flew me and another operative from Lagos to Port Harcourt on a bogus petition by Ogu, in obvious attempt to distract the EFCC, backed by a forged invoice, which the EFCC did not even investigate to know if it is authentic. The last time I figured, the EFCC must have spent well over three hundred thousand Naira flying me around the country in a schemed attempt to intimidate and frustrate me. Either Ogu is funding it or there is a colossal waste of public money,” a very angry Obasi said.
He painfully recalls how the EFCC at FCDA dishonestly invited him to their office on the pretext that the invitation was in connection of his case against Ogu. But according to him, when he got there, he met in Salihu’s office two operatives he was told were from Lagos, and was asked to cooperate with them. The funny thing is that when we contacted Salihu who asked Obasi to cooperate with the officers from Lagos, he feigned ignorance of the allegation against Obasi that warranted his arrest at his office and being flown to Lagos.
In any case, from Salihu’s office the two operatives took Obasi to their Idiagbon House office in Wuse, Abuja and detained him there for two days before flying him to Lagos on Thursday to meet his accuser, one Mrs. Alinnor, who Obasi believes was paid by Pastor Ogu to accuse him falsely using a forged invoice for a transaction of shipment of tomato ketchup that took place in 2002. According to Obasi, she is a woman with a very bad credit record with their company and that he had on three occasions gave sureties in her favour but defaulted in every case until Obasi refused to support her on the fourth deal and she became disgruntled.
After spending two days in EFCC custody in Lagos, where he was given “impossible bail conditions” and at the same time denying him access to his lawyer and family members and while efforts were being made to meet the bail conditions for his release, the EFCC again on Friday, 20th March, 2011 handed him over to yet another operative named Babale Gwalo to take him to Port Harcourt to answer to another “frivolous” petition by Apostle Eugene Ogu whose “fraud” against Obasi’s Globiz was the subject of Obasi’s visit to Salihu’s office when he was arrested. Obasi was flown to Port Harcourt, where he did another six days in EFCC’s detention. It is noteworthy here that Obasi helped the Gwalo to complete the air fare after he signaled that he did not have enough money.
In any case, Lawyer to Globiz International, Maxwell Ozoaka said that the confinement of Obasi on a frivolous allegation by someone the EFCC knows has a case with Obasi without any investigation or enough evidence backing such allegation is unlawful. “Does it then mean that once a petition is written against anybody in this country the EFCC arrests and detains the person without much ado?”
Obasi, who has lived in Europe for over 22 years, is miffed about the bizarre dimension his case against Ogu has taken. “Such can only happen in Nigeria that a complainant will get punished and the offender not. They held me for eight days due to a rubbish petition written by Ogu and his proxy, which they should know is to distract attention from his crime. EFCC gave harsh bail conditions for my release, including holding my international passport. But Ogu who defrauded a foreign firm of US$15.000.000 and tainted the image of Nigeria was not held for one day and thrice he has breached the conditions of his bail and the EFCC did nothing.”
When Ogu felt that Obasi is unscathed by experience with the EFCC, he wrote another petition to Port Criminal Investigating Department, accusing Obasi of criminal defamation for the publications in The Sun and City People. And the police outrageously, without a substantial proof of case to answer (as by the law under which Obasi was held, only The Sun and City people are answerable), and after an investigation that lasted less than two hours, and without even contacting the Sun or City People to see if there was in fact a nexus between Obasi and the said defamatory publications, laid ambush for Obasi on a date he was to visit EFCC office Port Harcourt to collect his passport. Mr Obasi, sensing danger to his life since it was obvious that it was at the instigation of Ogu, made good his escape on two occasions they laid such ambush, armed to the teeth, for a mere misdemeanour that would not attract over six months in prison if eventually proven.
However, on the advice of Obasi’s lawyer Onyeke Edoka, he went on 10 June to the Moscow Road headquarters of the Rivers State CID “to clear his name once and for all.” It was a Friday and he was detained. On Monday 13 June, the Police pretended they were charging Obasi to court by taking him to a particular Magistrate they knew was not sitting. When it was clear that he will not sit, instead of taking him to other available magistrates in accordance with constitutional provisions, he was taken to Port Harcourt Prison and brought him back the next day to the same Court 1 of Magistrate Woke, who was also not sitting. Interestingly, the Magistrate, contrary to the constitution that stipulates that offenders should be tried in public, took his plea in his office and remanded him in prison with onerous bail conditions for a mere misdemeanor, which actually is a denial of bail. He needed three sureties: a landlord from Rivers State whose property must have Certificate of Occupancy, a level 10 and above civil servant and a businessman resident in Port Harcourt, who are to forfeit the sum of one million Naira each should the accused jump bail.
Obasi went to the Federal High Court 1 Port Harcourt to enforce his fundamental human rights for “unlawful arrest, detention, flawed arraignment and also sought a review of the impossible bail conditions at the lower court. As at press time, his bail conditions have been reviewed by Magistrate Woke to reflect the offence he is being charged with after that leg of the reliefs he sought at the Federal High Court was referred back to the Magistrate for review. But before then, Mr Obasi has spent 21 days in prison. However, one of the reliefs Obasi is seeking at the Federal High Court is 20 million Naira against the Commissioner of Police and Apostle Eugene Ogu as damages for unlawful detention.
The case between Pastor Ogu’s EL DUMZ and Globiz was first reported to EFCC in December 2007 at their Lagos office. It dragged till October, 2008 when the EFCC said it was ready to give their legal opinion on the matter. But Pastor Ogu brought a fresh petition to the effect the Larry attempted to kill him some time in July 2008, which according to Obasi was a calculated attempt by Ogu to crowd the issue. And when he felt that the EFCC may have compromised its position on the matter, he, with the assistance of the Czech Embassy, sent a petition to the EFCC Chairman and met her on the matter together with some Czech Embassy officials.Consequent thereof, the EFCC chairman ordered the transfer of the case file from Lagos to her monitoring office in Abuja. The Abuja team, led by Mr. Baba Kora and Mr. Achadu did their work diligently, completed their investigation in time and submitted their report to the Headquarters. This, we later gathered, was sent to the EFCC and that was in July 2009.