Friday, July 22, 2016

Court frees Fayose’s aide, Agbele from EFCC custody

A High Court of the Federal Capital Territory has granted bail to Abiodun Agbele, the detained aide of Ekiti State governor, Ayodele Fayose.Agbele, who had been in detention by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), was granted bail in the sum of N50 million and a surety in likes sum.

The detention of Agbele in custody of the EFCC for over 20 days without trial or a lawful court order was described by the court as a “high point of impunity and a brazen breach of the fundamental right of a Nigerian citizen to freedom of movement and dignity as enshrined in the 1999 Constitution.”



Justice Olukayode Adeniyi, giving judgment in the fundamental rights enforcement suit instituted by Agbele against the anti-graft agency held that his detention since July 1, 2016 till date in Abuja was “wrongful, unlawful, unconstitutional and a gross violation of the fundamental rights of the applicant.”


The judge thereafter imposed a fine of N5 million on the EFCC to be paid to the applicant as compensation for his unlawful arrest and detention.In the judgment that lasted about an hour, Justice Adeniyi agreed with counsel to the applicant, Olalekan Ojo, that the detention of Agbele beyond the period stipulated under Section 35 of the 1999 Constitution was a gross violation of the rights of the applicant to freedom of liberty, dignity and to own properties.
The Judge condemned the action of the EFCC for brazenly violating fundamental rights of individuals under the guise of performing its statutory duties, adding that the fine was imposed to make EFCC learn on how to operate within the ambit of the law when it comes to fundamental rights of the Nigerian citizens to their freedom of liberty and movement.

Justice Adeniyi also took a swipe at the EFCC for not being honest to the Magistrate court in Abuja, where it obtained a remand order to hold Agbele. “If the Magistrate Court had been informed of the pendency of this fundamental rights suit, definitely, it will not have granted the remand order upon which the applicant was detained without trial beyond the period allowed by law.

“The detention of the applicant after a suit had been lodged at this court is unconstitutional and illegal as the applicant has already run to this court to seek refuge from the violation of his rights by the respondent”, the judge said.

The judge also said he wondered why the EFCC, which claimed that it granted administrative bail to Agbele, suddenly turned around in the court and rigorously objected to the plea of the applicant for a court bail in line with constitutional provisions.

In its reaction, the EFCC said it was shocked by the ruling, and declared intention to appeal the case. It is therefore filing for a stay of execution immediately.

In a statement, Head of Media and Publicity at the commission, Wilson Uwujaren, described Justice Adeniyi’s conclusion as ‘curious’ against the background of the information presented to the court.

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