BY INNOCENT ANABA
A Lagos High Court, yesterday, restrained the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC and Inspector General of Police, from arresting former Director General of the Nigerian Stock Exchange, NSE, Prof Ndi Okereke-Onyiuke, without first showing that she committed a crime.
Trial judge, Justice Ayotunde Phillips, in her judgment, held that it was fundamental that security agencies must first establish reasonable suspicion against a suspect before effecting arrest.
The judge counseled law enforcement agencies in the country to take a cue from their counterparts in other countries, and not being in a hurry to arrest suspects when investigations are on-going, adding that it would afford them sufficient evidence to secure conviction of suspects, whenever they were arraigned.
The judgment on a fundamental right enforcement suit against the EFCC, IGP, the Commissioner of Police, Lagos State and the Security and Exchange Commission, SEC, by Okekeke-Onyiuke, the court struck out the preliminary objection against the suit by the EFCC on the ground that it was defective.
According to the court, no responsible court would restrain law enforcement agencies from performing their statutory duties, but that there was no facts before the court to support that the anti-graft agency and the police exercised their rights to validly arrest Okekeke-Onyiuke.
The court added that the plaintiff, by her suit, did not seek to prevent her lawful arrest, but to prevent the violation of her right through acts of intimidation, harassment and threat of arrest, by the respondents, who were allegedly acting on the instigation of SEC.
Justice Phillips, noted that the plaintiff effectively established that there was imminent threat to the violation of her fundamental rights to life, against inhuman treatment, among others.
The court declared that the constant threat of arrest, intimidation and harassment of the plaintiff by the defendants as a violation of her rights and restrained the defendants from further engaging in the said acts.
The court also restrained the defendants from further engaging the threatening, intimidating and harassing her in a manner capable of breaching her rights.