Hon. Alabh George Turnah, former Special Adviser (S.A) to Dan Abia, ex-Managing Director of Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC), has demanded an open apology from the Economic and Financial Crimes Commissione, EFCC, for a 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.
George Turner, in a letter through his legal team on Friday, described the publication as malicious and outright falsehood circulated across the media space and delibrate misrepresentation of facts by the EFCC with an intention to “ridicule” him before the general public.
Setting the records straight, Hon. Turner’s lawyer, PROF. A. AMUDA-KANIIKE, SAN (Amuda-Kannike SAN & Co.) noted that their client (Hon. George Turner) was never convicted nor sentenced by any court for offences of Obtaining money under false pretence, money laundering, forgery or uttering of forged documents as falsely contained in the said EFCC’s press release.
In the letter titled “PROTEST LETTER / DEMAND FOR PUBLIC APOLOGY” Hon. Turner demanded the EFCC chairman, to investigate the falsehoods as contained in the EFCC’s press release, and direct the Head of Media & Publicity to offer public apology and state the correct facts and true position of things given 72 hours from the date of the letter.
The letter read;
“We are solicitors to Hon. Alabh George Turnah, Ebis Orubebe and Silas Uzogor Chidiebere, hereinafter referred to as “Our Clients” and on whose behalf we write you this letter.
“First and foremost, we have the instructions of our clients to congratulate you on your appointment as Executive Chairman of the EFCC by President Ahmed Bola Tinubu and to wish you God’s guidance and grace in the discharge of the enormous task of your office.
It is the hope of our clients and millions of Nigerians that you will use your experience and expertise as a refined officer as well as your unblemished track record of service to the nation and humanity to repositioning the EFCC and transform it.
“Further to the above, it is the instruction of our clients that we write to protest the mischievous and malicious publication of outright falsehood against their person by your organization which is circulated across the media space including social media, print as well as electronic media, orchestrated by one Wilson Uwajaren, Head, Media & Publicity of the EFCC with the intention to malign, disparage and put to public ridicule, the hard earned public image of our clients, especially that of Alabh George Turnah (MON). This unprofessional conduct of the EFCC spokesman is a sad event that should not happen under your watch, and even more importantly, under the administration of President Tinubu who is adjudged to be a complete democrat and a product of the rule of law.
“This is certainly not the kind of EFCC Nigerians and indeed the world would expect under your able leadership, following your track record in public service.
“Sir, 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. For the avoidance of doubt, the falsehood in the said press release as well as the true facts and correct position of the subject matter is as follows:
“1. As rightly contained in the said EFCC’s press release being complained about, our clients were charged with 23 counts of Conspiracy, Obtaining money by false pretence under the Advance Fee Fraud and Other Related Offences Act, Directly taking possession of proceeds of crime under the Money Laundering (Prohibition) Act and Forgery/Uttering of forged documents under the Miscellaneous Offences Act, all in a 5 amended charge no: FHC/PH/76C/2017.
“2. 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.
“3. 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 FCC’s press release. Your legal department should be able to avail you with a copy of the 5 amended charge, Sir.
“4. Contrary to the false claim contained in the FCC’s press release that our clients were jailed on Thursday, September 7, 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 3r Defendants (Our Clients).
“Your legal department should be able to avail you with a copy of the judgement, Sir.
Sir, the above clearly exposes the falsehood maliciously dished out to the public by the EFCC against our clients, all in a bid to malign, disparage and destroy the good public image of our clients.
“Furthermore Sir, the said FCC’s press release was also very economical with certain obvious truth arising from the same judgement by deliberately suppressing the following facts:
“1. 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 proffered 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. Your legal department should be able to avail you with copies of the Notice of Appeal and the application for stay of execution of the judgement, already filed at the appeal section registry of the Federal High Court, Port Harcourt.
“2. 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 client’s 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.
“We have the firm instructions of our client to demand that you use your good office to investigate the falsehood here already highlighted as contained in the said EFCC’s press release, and in good conscience, direct the Head of Media & Publicity to offer public apology to our clients and state the correct facts and true position of things as it is. We are hopeful that this can be achieved within 72 hours from the date this letter is received at your office.
“Mr. Chairman, Sir, 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 the 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.
“Finally, 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.
“We hope that you will use your good office and your track record to correct this injustice done to our clients by your organization, by setting the records straight.
“Thanking you in anticipation of your kind consideration and quick action, please,” the letter read.
Recall that the EFCC, in a press release dated 11th September, 2023 with the caption, “N2.9 Billion Fraud: George Turnah, Two Others, Bag Six Years Jail Terms” has alleged that the former SA to ex-NDDC chairman and two others were sentenced upon charges of false pretence, forgery, etc.
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