Former FCT minister slams N100m suit by EFCC

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Former minister of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), Senator Bala Mohammed has filed a N100 million fundamental human right suit against the economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), over his continued detention.
Already, Justice Baba Yusuf of the High Court of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) has fixed hearing for Thursday, November 24, 2016.
In his  15-paragraph affidavit, in support of the originating motion on notice, Mohammed said he was invited by the EFCC to report to its office on October 24, 2016, in connection with investigation into alleged ‘cases of conspiracy, abuse of office and money laundering’.
The affidavit, deposed to by Umar Aliyu Usman stated that the applicant (Bala Mohammed) voluntarily reported to the EFCC on October 24, 2016 and was promptly arrested and detained till date.
He stated that rather being released on bail, he was merely dumped and abandoned in the respondent’s cell since then, wherein he has suffered substantial deterioration of his health and untold psychological trauma and mental torture.
In suit filed by his counsel, Chief Chris Uche, the forme is praying the court for an order compelling and directing the EFCC to release him on bail forthwith or immediately arraign him before a competent court of law for trial.
The former minister further asked for an order of court enforcing and restoring his fundamental right to personal liberty enshrined and guaranteed by section 35 of the 1999 Constitution, as amended, which has been violated and is being violated by the EFCC.
He is asking for the sum of N100 million as special and general damages against the EFCC for the illegal, unlawful and unconstitutional arrest and detention.
Meawhile, EFCC has listed six commercial banks as witnesses, to testify against Justice Rita Ofili-Ajumogobia of the Federal High Court and Godwin Obla in a 30-count charge preferred against them by the commission.
In the charge numbered LD/367/C/16,  Justice Ofili-Ajumogobia is listed as first accused, while Obla (SAN) is named as second accused. The 19 witnesses listed by the commission to testify against the accused includes a representative of the court.
The accused are said to have committed the offence on May 21, 2015, by conspiring to pervert the course of justice with the sum of N5 million.
In the same vein, Justice Sule Hassan declined to grant an ex-parte application filed by Justice Ajumogobia, seeking to secure her release from the custody of EFCC.Justice Hassan while turning down the request, directed the applicant to put the anti-graft agency on notice. Hearing of the application has been fixed for November 28.
The said sum of money was alleged to have been transferred to one Nigel & Colive Ltd, in relation to a charge number FHC/L/C/482/10.
Ajumogobia is said to be sole signatory to Nigel & Colive Ltd.
The accused were said to have conspired to pervert the course of justice in contravention of the provisions of the Criminal Laws of Lagos State, 2011.
However, Justice Ajumogobia and Obla had the commission before the court, praying it to declare their continued detention as unlawful.
The commission had detained the duo in its custody, pending the conclusion of its investigations.
Yesterday, before Justice Muhammed Idris, Obla through his counsel, Mr Ifedayo Adedipe (SAN) brought an application, praying the court to declare as unlawful, his continued detention.
Arguing his application at the mention of the case, Adedipe informed the court that he had a written address in support of his application, as well as a further and better affidavit, and an affidavit of urgency all filed on November 14.
In his argument, Adedipe urged the court to hold, that the continued detention of Obla, as well as the seizure of his mobile phones, constituted an infringement on his rights to liberty and ownership of property
In response, counsel to the EFCC,  Rotimi Oyedepo, urged the court to dismiss the applicant’s processes for lack of merit.
Oyedepo argued that the steps taken by the EFCC were allowed by law in the dispensation of its duties.
According to him, intelligence report showed that the applicant had a company known as Obla & Co Ltd, from which the sum of N5 million was transferred to Hon. Justice Ajumogobia via a company known as Nigel & Colive Ltt.
On the argument of unlawful detention, Oyedepo submitted that even the constitution allows for the liberty of individuals to be curtailed, adding that the EFCC acted in line with due provisions of the law.
On the seizure of the applicant’s mobile phones, Oyedepo argued that section 44 (k) of the constitution, allows for the temporary taking over of a property, for purposes of enquiry, adding that such right was qualified.
He, therefore, urged the court not to allow itself to be used as a shield against lawful prosecution.
After listening to the submissions of counsel, Justice Mohammed Idris, fixed November 25 for judgment.
Meanwhile a reliable EFCCsource informed Daily Sun that the duo will be arraign before the Lagos State High Court, Igbosere, before Friday.

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