A Niger-Delta activist, Mr Azibaola Robert, on Wednesday urged a Federal High Court in Lagos to restrain the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) from issuing a remand warrant against him.
Azibaola is a human rights activist and cousin of former Nigerian President, Dr Goodluck Jonathan. He filed the suit on Wednesday through his lawyer, Mr Ebun-Olu Adegboruwa challenging his unlawful detention. Joined as respondent in the suit is the EFCC.
Robert is praying the court to stop the respondent from applying for a new remand warrant against him from any court in Nigeria, adding that such attempt was a ploy to keep him in custody indefinitely.
In his affidavit of facts, the applicant avers that he was commissioned by the Federal Government to execute an assignment to network with all stakeholders for the purpose of preventing oil pipelines vandalism, oil bunkering and crude oil theft. He posited that the assignment was duly executed upon payment.
The applicant said on March 23, he honoured an invitation to the Abuja office of the EFCC but to his suprise, he had been in custody since then.
Citing Section 8 of the Administration of Criminal Justice Act, he claimed that he ought not to be arrested or prosecuted for any civil contract or transaction.
He is therefore, urging the Federal High Court to hold that Sections 293 and 294 of the Administration of Criminal Justice Act relied on by the EFCC, deals with criminal offences attracting capital punishment and not financial crimes.
Robert is also praying the court to hold that the attempt by the EFCC to force him to implicate the former President is contrary to Section 7 of the Administration of Criminal Justice Act. He argues that the Act had outlawed the practice of arresting a citizen as ransom for the alleged offence of another citizen.
The applicant therefore, seeks the following reliefs: “a declaration that the respondent is not entitled to arrest, detain, confine or restrict the liberty of the applicant without a charge or a trial in an appropriate court.
“A declaration that the acts of the respondent in obtaining remand orders against him, for the purpose of keeping him in custody in perpetuity, constitutes a flagrant violation of his fundamental rights.
“A declaration that the respondent is not entitled, under Section 293 of the Administration of Criminal Justice Act, 2015 to apply for and obtain any remand warrant, for the purpose of keeping him in custody, in perpetuity, “A declaration that his arrest and detention since March 23 by the respondent, their agents, servants, officers or otherwise, constitute a flagrant violation of his fundamental rights.’’
The applicant consequently seeks an order directing the respondent to forthwith abstain from applying for a remand order against him over matters pertaining to financial crimes. He seeks an order directing the respondents, whether by themselves, their servants, agents, officers or otherwise, to forthwith release him from unlawful custody.
In the alternative, the applicant prays the court for an order, directing the respondent to institute a criminal charge against him and arraign him before any court of competent jurisdiction.
The applicant also in the alternative seeks a court order, directing the respondent to forthwith grant bail to the applicant on liberal terms or upon any such conditions of bail already granted by any court of competent jurisdiction.
The applicant’s suit is No.FHC/L/CS/596/2016 and is yet to be assigned to a trial judge for hearing.