By Abdulwahab Abdulah
The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, has challenged the power of a Lagos High Court restraining it from arresting the sacked Director-General of the Nigerian Stock Exchange, NSE, Professor Ndi Okereke-Onyiuke.
This came as Okereke-Onyiukeâ€™s counsel, Chief Robert Clarke, SAN, informed the court that the state Police Commissioner, Mr. Marvel Akpoyibo, refused to accept the court processes served on him by the Bailiff of the court on the matter.
Justice Morenike Obadina of the state High Court had on August 12, 2010 restrained the anti-graft agency from harassing, embarrassing, intimidating or threatening to arrest and detain the sacked Director-General of the NSE.
When the matter came up yesterday before Justice W.A.E. Ayo, counsel to EFCC, Godwin Obla, said the anti graft agency had filed a Notice of Preliminary objection against the order of the court.
The preliminary objection was brought pursuant to Order V111 Rule 1,2,4 and 5 of the Fundamental Human Rights Procedure Rules, 2009. In the objection EFCC argued that the court did not have the jurisdiction to make orders restraining the Commission from performing its statutory duty of investigation, arrest, and prosecution of crime.
Apart from this, the agency maintained that the court could not act on mere speculations to act on such action filed before it.
Chief Robert Clarke (SAN), counsel to Okereke-Onyiuke in his submission told the court that all the respondents were served with court processes except the Commissioner of Police, Lagos State who refused to accept court processes served on him.
Clarke said efforts made by him, including writing a letter to the CP proved abortive.
At this juncture, Justice Ayo directed that all the processes should be taken to the legal department of the Lagos Police Command. The court after an argument by counsel, consolidated the substantial application and the Notice of Preliminary Objection and adjourned till September 7, for hearing of the two applications.
In an 18_paragraph affidavit in support of the motion, deposed to by Okereke_Onyiuke, she averred that since January 4, 1983 she had been in the services of the Nigerian Stock Exchange as manager (researcher) adding, that she was elevated to be the director general and chief executive officer of the Stock Exchange in 2000.
She argued that on August 4, 2010 at about 6.00 p.m, the fourth respondent (SEC) dumped a letter at her office through the Company Secretary captioned â€œNotice of Removal of the Director General of the Nigerian Stock Exchange.â€
She averred that on the following day, the SEC utilized men of the Nigerian Police and other heavily armed law enforcement agents to prevent her from having access into her office at the Stock Exchange, adding that SEC announced her removal as DG of the Nigerian Stock Exchange to the whole world without recourse to due process.
She said that â€œsince the dumping of the letter referred above, series of strange faces both in mufti and uniform, strange vehicles either of the Police or EFCC had been parading my residence.â€
Okereke-Onyiuke stated that she had received countless unknown calls threatening security of her life, movement, property and to arrest and detain her accordingly, adding that on Saturday, August 5, two black unregistered Highlander Toyota Jeeps paraded her street repeatedly, with their mission unknown.
She maintained that her suit challenging her removal was still pending before a Federal High Court in Lagos, and that there were serious threat to her life, movement and property.
The former NSE boss prayed the court to intervene and protect her fundamental human rights in the interest of justice, especially as no charges had been preferred against her before a court of competent jurisdiction.