The Federal High Court Abuja Friday ordered the immediate release of Mr. Johnson Salako, Mobitelâ€™s Chief Executive Officer by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC). The court order came following the arrest and detention of SalakoÂ Thursday last week, which his company described as unlawful.
Mobitel had sued the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) for allegedly infringing on Mr. Salakoâ€™s fundamental rights by detaining him for more than twenty four hours.
The suit not only sought for Mr. Salakoâ€™s immediate release by the crimes commission but also an injunction restraining the EFFC from further harassing, arresting or detaining him as well as any intention to harass and arrest Mr. Akisanya, Mobitelâ€™s Chairman, pending the hearing and determination of the substantive suit.
Meanwhile, the Company, after the court order also reiterated its earlier stand that the arrest of its boss by EFCC was unnecessary, illegal and a blatant disregard of the law and the constitutional rights of the individual, adding that the EFCC was unable to provide any evidence of the said court order which it had claimed as authority for the arrest and detention of Salako.
Mobitelâ€™s Chief Commercial Officer, Mr Okon Iyanam, told Vanguard that â€œOur President & CEO ought not to have been arrested in the first place, much less detained without rational or justifiable cause. This decision by the Abuja High Court is a victory for the rule of law and due process. A situation where an organ of government begins to arrest innocent citizens and detain them for lengthy periods without any basis in law portends grave danger for our dear country. EFCC can not be above the law; Mr. Salakoâ€™s release today(Friday) at the instance of the High Court in Abuja must be celebrated as a clear judicial statement against arbitrariness and impunity.â€
Following the recent tussle between the Minister of Information and NCC on the issue of the recent bid rounds for the 2.3 GH spectrum license and the subsequent involvement of the EFCC, industry watchers have commented that the resultant power_play which culminated in the unlawful arrest and detention of the Mobitel boss may have sent negative signals to other credible local and foreign entrepreneurs keen to invest in Nigeriaâ€™s fast_growing Telecoms sector.
Iyanam also revealed that immediately after Salakoâ€™s release, he was admitted for medical attention alleging that he was denied access to his doctor during the period of his incarceration
The detention of Mr Salako by the EFCC came as a result of allegations that the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) acted wrongly in granting the former management of Mobitel a waiver over its outstanding fiduciary responsibilities to the Federal Government.
Meanwhile Mobile week, gathered that the NCC had submitted to the Mrs Farida Waziri_led agency, that after due reconciliation of Mobitel case files it was apparent that the company (Mobitel) had been over_billed and had already over paid its debts.