Justice Ibrahim Buba of a Federal High Court, Lagos, has dismissed two fundamental rights applications filed by a Lagos based lawyer, Olukoya Ogungbeje, on behalf of his clients, Messr Chief Kenneth Chukwuemeka Ajoku and Chidinma Ozurumba, against the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), for lack of merit and being frivolous.
The judge also awarded a total cost of N500, 000 against the two petitioners.
Other respondents in Ajoku’s suit against s are: a Lagos based-lawyer, Mr. Taiwo Kupolati; Folorunsho Sholanke; Jide Olaleye; Hon. Abraham Ogunleye; Kolade Akinwunmi and Dr. Ishaku Danladi Msheliza.
The two petitioners in suits marked FHC/L/CS/736/2017, and FHC/L/CS 803/2017, had urged the court to declare that the arrest, and detention by the operatives and agent of EFCC on May 4, 2017, at the instigation of other respondents for taking up the brief of his client and without cause is illegal, wrongful, unlawful, and unconstitutional as it violate the applicant’s fundamental rights as guarantee under sections 33, 34, 35, and 36 of the 1999 Constitution of Federal Republic of Nigeria.
The applicants have also urged the court to declare that the forceful invasion and sieging of applicants’ office situated at 23, Road, O Close, Block 2, Flat 2, Festac Town, Lagos, by the operatives of EFCC at the instigation of other respondents without cause or any order of the court, is illegal, wrongful, unlawful and unconstitutional as it violate the applicant’s fundamental rights as guarantee under sections 33, 34, 35, and 36 of the 1999 Constitution of Federal Republic of Nigeria.
They also urged the court to declare that forceful sealing, padlocking, of their office and forceful seizure, confiscation and carting away of vital landed property documents and court processes from their office situated at 23, Road, O Close, Block 2, Flat 2, Festac Town, Lagos, by armed operatives of the EFCC at the instigation of other respondents is illegal, wrongful, unlawful and unconstitutional, as it violates the applicants’ fundamental right as guaranteed under section 36, 43 and 44 of the 1999 Constitution of Federal Republic of Nigeria.
The first applicant, Chief Ajoku had asked the court for an order compelling the respondents severally and jointly to pay the sum of N300 million, while the second applicant, Mrs. Ozurumba, asked for N100 million, as general and exemplary damages for threat to life and rights, arrest, detention, harassment, inconvenience, forceful invasion, and sieging of their office with cause or any order of the court.
They further asked the court for an order restraining the respondents, their agents, servants, privies, or anybody deriving authority from them by whatever name called, from further harassing, intimidating, arresting, detaining, inviting, investigating, charging, seizing or taking untoward action against them on any fact connected with or related to this facts of this case.
Responding to the suits, EFCC in two separate counter-affidavit deposed to by Ayodele Samuel and Makinde Adebayo, and argued before the court by Mr. Banjo James, urged the court to refuse the applicants’ applications for being frivolous and lacking in merit.
The deponents averred that they are members of Land and Property Fraud Section Team A, of the EFCC, assigned to carry out investigation into an alleged case of forgery involving the first applicant, Chief Ajoku, vide a petition dated May 2, 2017, wherein it was alleged that Chief Ajoku was in possession of forged Power of Attorney and was using same to carry out criminal activities.
The deponents averred that in furtherance of investigation, their agency never stormed the office of the applicants with 28 heavily armed operatives in a commando style, and that their office was never ransacked.
The deponents also stated that the EFCC did not and never carted away any documents whatsoever, nor did it seized or confiscated any documents. While adding that operatives of the EFCC did not arrest, harassed, embarrassed, invade or handcuffed the applicants, as they were not in the office on the said day.
The deponents stated that the second applicant, Mrs. Ozurumba, who was arrested by the agency, was granted bail after completion of her statement, and released to her husband, as she was never detained, harassed or intimidated.
They claimed that the applicants’ claim is aimed at deceive the court, as they were never threatened, and to stalk investigation of the petition against them.
They therefore urged the court not to grant the applications.
Delivering judgement on the two applications on Friday, Justice Ibrahim Nasir Buba, while dismissing the two applications for lacking in merit, and being frivolous, awarded a total cost of N500, 000, against the two applicants in favour of the EFCC and other respondents.