The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission has been blasted by an Abuja High Court judge for gross abuse of power and unlawful arrest and detention.
An Abuja High Court presided over by Justice Olukayode Adeniyi on Thursday ordered the release of an ally of Governor Ayo Fayose of Ekiti State, Abiodun Agbele, who has been in the custody of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission since June 27.
The judge ruled that Agbele’s arrest by the EFCC in Lagos on June 27 and detention for his roles in the handling of over N1.2bn on behalf of Fayose during the Ekiti State governorship election in 2014 was total violation of his right.
He declared the continued detention of the suspect since then without being charged to court and without the backing of any competent remand order amounted to a “gross violation” of his right.
According to a Punch report, the judge held that the order of remand obtained by the EFCC from a Magistrate’s Court in Ogba, Lagos, on June 30, 2016, to keep the suspect in custody for 14 days, had “dissolved” upon transferring him (Agbele) to Abuja on July 1.
Justice Adeniyi ruled that the remand order issued by Magistrate’s Court in Lagos was no longer binding immediately Agbele was transferred to Abuja which was outside the jurisdiction of the Lagos court.
Though the judge ruled that he lacked territorial jurisdiction to determine whether or not the EFCC breached the suspect’s rights in Lagos before he was transferred to Abuja, Justice Adeniyi held that there was no legal justification for the detention of the suspect between July 1 and July 13, when the suspect served his fundamental human rights suit on the anti-graft commission.
He therefore awarded N5m as damages against the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission as compensation for the suspect’s “wrongful and illegal detention” from July 1 till date.
The judge condemned “strongly” what he described as EFCC’s “gross abuse of powers” and its “arrogant display of executive might” for detaining the suspect illegally for the period.
Agbele was arrested by the EFCC in Lagos on June 27 and has since been detained for his roles in the handling of over N1.2bn on behalf of Fayose during the Ekiti State governorship election in 2014.
The court ordered that should the anti-graft commission fail to prefer charges against the suspect within 21 days, all his personal belongings seized by the EFCC should be released to him.
Though, the court ordered the suspect to deposit his passport with the EFCC as part of the bail conditions, the judge directed that it should be released to him should the anti-graft agency fail to charge him within 21 days.