BY INNOCENT ANABA
LAGOS — As the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, continues to lay siege to the Lagos University Teaching Hospital, LUTH, where Chief Wale Babalakin, SAN, chairman of Bi-Courtney Highway Services Limited, is said to be hospitalised, some lawyers in the state, yesterday, condemned the action.
A Senior Advocate of Nigeria, Dr. Joseph Nwobike, described the action of the anti- corruption agency as an abuse of power and a violation of the businessman’s right to life and medical care.
Babalakins’s company had alleged that EFCC operatives, numbering over 20, had stormed the hospital, where he is being treated for an undisclosed illness and detained him in the ward.
Dr. Nwobike said: “I understand that the EFCC granted Dr. Babalakin administrative bail which has not been vacated by the Commission. I am also aware that the EFCC is aware that Dr. Babalakin is ill and he is undergoing treatment at the Lagos University Teaching Hospital.
“So it amounts to a breach of his fundamental human right for the Commission to disturb his treatment by laying siege to the hospital, thereby worsening his condition.
“The court has adjourned his arraignment to December 12, so the EFCC ought to wait and see if he would not come to court. If at that stage his reason for not appearing in court is not reasonable, the EFCC can then take action under the authorisation of the court to compel him to come for his trial.
“This is an abuse of power on the part of the EFCC and should be condemned by all.”
Another Lagos lawyer, Mr. Emmanuel Majebi, in his reaction said: “As much as I don’t believe that there is anyone above the law, I also don’t support or encourage tyranny.
Ïf Wale Babalakin is in hospital, the EFCC should wait until he recovers to arrest and prosecute him. What is the desperation all about?
“After all, they have waited six years to file this charge. Once this is allowed to go unchallenged it becomes a bad precedent which would empower security agencies to go and arrest suspects on their sick bed.
“Without creating a scene EFCC can keep an eye on him. LUTH is a public institutions they can liaise with the Chief Medical Director via official channels such that he can be monitored. What I don’t like, is for the EFCC to barge into the ward and arrest him on his sick bed.”
Mr. Jiti Ogunye, another lawyer, noted that though the EFCC may have a good reason for its action given past experiences where suspects had feigned illness to evade arrest and prosecution, he, however, cautioned the Commission to act within the confines of the rule of law.