By Festus Ahon
ASABA-A Human Rights Activist and legal practitioner, Mr Oghenejabor Ikimi, has said with the recent judgment which held that the courts cannot stop the Economic and Financial Crime Commission, EFCC from discharging its statutory functions, alleged offenders would no longer have a hiding place.
Reacting to a court judgment delivered by Justice O E Abang to that effect in a statement, Ikimi said “we believe that with the judgment, alleged offenders would not use our law courts as a shield to preventing our law enforcement agencies from discharging their statutory functions”.
The Federal High Court sitting in Asaba had in a judgment on 23rd of February, 2018 presided over by Justice O. E. ABANG in Suit No: FHC/ASB/CS/22/2017 PRINCE OKEOGHENE KINGSLEY MILLER & 3 ORS VS. COMRADE GODWIN IKOLO & ANOR dismissed the claim for damages or claim for the Respondents to tender unreserved and unqualified apology as the Respondents did not in any way violate the fundamental rights of the Applicants. The said suit of the Applicants was therefore dismissed with the cost of N25,000.00 awarded each in favour of the 1st and 2nd Respondents payable by the Applicants jointly and severally holding that the said suit was lacking in merit.
The Applicants are members of Commercial Motorcycles and Tricycles Operators Association of Delta State. The 1st Respondent is a member of National Commercial Motorcycle and Tricycle Owners and Riders Association, Delta State Chapter.
The 1st Respondent on 10th October, 2016 wrote a petition to the 2nd Respondent (EFCC) alleging that the Applicants being officials of the Commercial Motorcycles and Tricycles Operators Association had misapplied, mismanaged and looted the proceeds from the daily collection of welfare tickets and government daily permit tickets from motorcycle and tricycle operators in Delta State.
That on account of the above petition, the 2nd Respondent (EFCC) invited the Applicants to answer to those charges or to respond to the allegation leveled against them. The 1st Applicant honoured the invitation, made statement to the 2nd Respondent (EFCC) and was admitted to bail on the day he reported. The 2nd Applicant also honoured the said invitation and was admitted to bail same day.
However the 3rd and 4th Applicant never honoured the said invitation of the 2nd Respondent (EFCC). The 1st Applicant was only able to perfect his bail conditions on 10th March, 2017 and was released on administrative bail same day, only for the Applicants to initiate this fundamental rights suit at the Federal High Court, No. 2, Asaba for unlawful detention amongst other declarations including the sum of N500,000,000.00 (Five hundred million naira) as damages against the Respondents.
Abang in the judgment said; “As regard restraining the 2nd Respondent from further arresting or inviting the Applicants, this is not possible.
“A Court of law cannot restrain the 2nd Respondent (EFCC) from discharging its functions. See AG of Anambra State V. UBA (2000) 15 NWLR Pt. 947 paragraph 41C at 67 – 68. The claim for damages or claim for the Respondents to tender unreserved and unqualified apology lacks merit.
“The Respondents did not in any way violate the fundamental rights of the Applicants. The suit of the Applicants lacks merit and it is accordingly dismissed with cost of N25,000.00 awarded each in favour of the 1st and 2nd Respondents payable by the Applicants jointly and severally. I so hold”.