By Innocent Anaba

LAGOS — SACKED Chief Executive Officer of Bank PHB Plc, Mr. Francis Atuche, who is in the custody of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission EFCC, has been granted leave by a Federal High Court sitting in Lagos to enforce his fundamental human rights against his arrest and detention.

This is coming, a day after an Ikeja Magistrate Court granted the EFCC  leave to detain the two former Managing Directors and Chief Executive Officers of Bank PHB Plc and Spring Bank Plc in its custody, pending when charges would be preferred against them.

Atuche, who was arrested on October 16, by operatives of the anti-graft agency shortly after he was relieved of his job by the Governor of the Central Bank, Mallam Lamido Sanusi, is also seeking N50 million damages against the EFCC for his detention beyond 48 hours.

Director-General of the State Security Service, is also joined in the suit as defendant.

Trial judge in the matter, Justice Ahmed Mohammed, granted Atuche’s prayers to serve the defendants with the enrollment order and other processes in the matter at the Lagos office of the two agencies.

The court in a short ruling on an ex-parte application argued by Atuche’s counsel, however, refused to grant an order mandating the EFCC to release the former banker on bail. It also refused to grant the prayer that the order should operate as a stay of all actions in respect of the alleged mismanagement of depositors’ funds, pending the final determination of the case.

Atuche’s wife, Elizabeth, in an affidavit in support of the suit, had averred that the respondents had set the antecedent of not releasing those arrested, particularly the former bank MDs/CEOs despite application to the effect, urging the court to grant the prayers.

Atuche, in the main suit, is seeking for a declaration that his arrest and detention is unlawful, wrongful, unjust and unconstitutional and a gross infringement of his fundamental rights as enshrined in Section 34 and 35 of the constitution and Section 5 of the African Charter on Human Rights (Ratification and Enforcement) Act.

He also wants the court to declare that the refusal of the EFCC to release him on bail is unlawful, wrongful, unjust and unconstitutional and a declaration that the seizure of his International Passport by the SSS without a court order to do so is unconstitutional and unwarranted and an infringement on his rights to move freely as a citizen of Nigeria.
He is also praying for an order directing the SSS to release his Passport to him immediately.

Also, Atuche also wants an injunction of the court, restraining the defendants from further detaining, harassing, molesting and subjecting him to any “inhuman treatment” by tampering with his freedom and wants the defendants to tender a public apology for the breach and violation of his fundamental rights.

Further hearing in the matter has been adjourned till October 28, this year.


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