By ONYEKACHUKWU MELUWA, Warri
A Federal High Court sitting in Asaba, Delta State has declared that the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) and the National Commercial Tricycle & Motorcycle Owners and Riders Association of Nigeria did not in anyway violate the fundamental rights of Messrs Prince Okeoghene Kingsley Miller, Emmanuel Afatakpa, Augustin Oronimiwhu and Obi Nzete.
Messrs Prince Okeoghene Kingsley Miller, Emmanuel Afatakpa, Augustine Oronimiwhu and Obi Nzete had in “Motion on Notice” brought by
The applicants in Order 2 rule 1 of the “Fundamental Rights(Establishment Procedure)Rules 2009 and Sections 46(1)of the 1999 Constitution as Amended had prayed the Court to declare that their arrest and detention, invitation and continuous invitation by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission without jurisdiction is “illegal,unconstitutional,
unlawful and a gross violation of their fundamental human rights.
The Court presided over by Hon. Justice O.E.Abang in a judgement delivered stated that the suit filed by the counsel to the Applicants, Walter Ekele lacked merits and accordingly dismissed same.
“The claim for damages or claim for the respondents to tender unreserved and unqualified apology lacks merit with cost of N25,000.00 awarded each in favour of the 1st and 2nd respondents payable by the applicants jointly and severally. I so hold.”
The applicants in suit No:FHC/ASB/CS/22/2017, also prayed the Court for an order of perpetual injunction restraining the EFCC and Comrade Godwin Ikolo either by themselves,agents,privies,
servants ir whomsoever acting through them for them from further arresting, detaining or inviting them.
They further prayed the Court to compel the EFCC and Godwin Ikolo to jointly and severally pay them damages in the sum of five hundred million naira only for the infraction and infringements of their fundamental rights and to tender and unreserved and unqualified apology insisting that such must be conspicuously published in two dailies,one national and the other local circulating in Delta State for the curtailment of their fundamental rights.
They also begged the Court to grant an order compelling the respondents jointly and severally to pay them the sum of fifty million naira only as aggravated damages and exemplary damages.
Part of their prayers reads thus,”The sum of ten million naira only as cost of the the instituting and prosecution of this matter.”
Justice Abang explained that once such allegation is made to the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission,EFCC by the Delta State Chairman of the National Commercial Tricycles&Motorcycle Owners and Riders Association of Nigeria(1st Respondent) or any concerned citizen,the EFCC has statutory mandate under Sections 6(b)and (h),7(1),8(5)and 41 of the EFCC Establishment Act 2009 to step in and invite the Applicants for the questioning.
Part of the judgement reads,”If in the process of inviting the Applicants for questioning,their fundamental rights to freedom of movement and personal liberty was temporarily violated,the violation was lawful and was in accordance with the law. See Section 35/?1C of 1999 Constitution as Amended.
“Therefore, invitation and/arrests of Prince Okeoghene Kingsley Miller, Comrade Emmanuel Afatakpa(1st &2nd applicants)and the invitation of the 3rd &4th applicants by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission,EFCC was lawful and constitutional.”
“Under the provisions of Section 4 of the Police Act,the Police has inter alia the duty to protect crimes.
“In the performance of all that important duty,the police in trying to discover whether or by whom an offence has been committed is entitled to question any person whether suspected or not from whom he thinks useful information may be obtained. That very act of the police is called investigation.
“As regards the unlawful detention of the 1st Applicant from 8th to 10th March 2017, the 1st Applicant was arrested on the 8th March 2017 and released on administrative bail same day.
“See exhibit EFCC1 attached to the 2nd Respondents’ Counter-Affidavit. The grant of provisional bail was in fact signed and collected by the 1st Applicant himself on 8th March 2017 the same day he was arrested. Therefore, he was promptly admitted to bail within 24 hours of arrest. Exhibit EFCC2 with all attached documents therein indicate that the 1st Applicant was released from custody on 10th March that is the day he was able to get reliable surety to take him on bail. It was therefore the 1st Applicant that delayed his release from custody from 8th March 2017 to 10th March 2017.
“Assuming he was able to provide substantial and reliable surety the same day he was admitted to bail on 8th March 2017, he would have been released from custody.
“Therefore,the detention of the 1st Applicant for just one day was lawful. The 2nd Applicant was admitted to bail on 10th March 2017 and released from custody the same day.
“As regards restraining the 2nd Respondent from further arresting or inviting the Applicants,this is not possible.
“A Court of law cannot restrain the 2nd Respondent from discharging its statutory functions.
The claim for damages or claim for the Respondents to tender unreserved and unqualified apology lacks merit. The Respondents did not in anyway violate the fundamental rights of the applicants.
“The Suit of the Applicants lacks merit and it is accordingly dismissed with cost of #25,000.00 awarded each in favour of the 1st and 2nd Respondents payable by the Applicants jointly and severally. I so hold.”
it am wrong in striking out the 2nd Respondent as a party in this suit,I will still determine the matter on the merit. This is the moment of truth.
“It is my view that allegation of misappropriation of funds or allegations of looting proceeds from daily collection of welfare tickets and government daily permit tickets from Motorcycle and Tricycle Operators in Delta State