The detained aide of governor Ayodele Fayose of Ekiti State Mr. Abiodun Agbele has been freed from the claws of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) by an Abuja High Court where he had spend over 20 days in custody without trial or lawful court order for detention.
The court described the detention as a high point on 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.
Giving judgment in a fundamental rights enforcement suit instituted against EFCC by Agbele, Justice Olukayode Adeniyi held that the detention of Agbele 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 who condemned Agbele’s detention by the EFCC without trial or lawful court order imposed a fine of N5 million on the anti-graft agency to be paid to the applicant as compensation for his unlawful arrest and detention.
In the judgment that lasted about one hour, Justice Adeniyi agreed with counsel to the applicant, Mr. Olalekan Ojo that the detention of the 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 right to own properties.
The Judge condemned the action of the EFCC for brazenly violating fundamental rights of individuals under the guise of performing of its statutory duties adding that the fine was imposed to make EFCC to 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.
The court also took swipe at the EFCC for not being honest to the Magistrate court in Abuja where it obtained a remand order to hold Agbele adding, “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 and voided the remand warrant issued by the Magistrate court for being of no effect to the applicant, having been obtained during the pendency of the instant case.
Justice Adeniyi also lambasted security agents, especially the EFCC for imposing stringent bail conditions on suspects in the name of granting administrative bail, adding that the stringent conditions violated sections 30 to 33 of the Administration of Criminal Justice Act (ACJA) 2015.
The Judge 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.
“What is more, the era of imposing outlandish bail conditions has gone in view of the provisions of the new laws. Bail conditions should not be more that what sections 30-33 of the ACJA stipulated because every person is entitled to bail”.
“Time has come for security agents, especially the EFCC to learn how to employ the best standard practice in the discharge of their duties”.
The Judge therefore admitted Agbele to bail in the sum of N50 million and a surety in likes sum.
The surety, the Judge held, must however be a top rank civil servant with the federal government or any of its agencies and must show evidence of residence in Abuja.
In the alternative, the court ordered a responsible citizen of Nigeria with property in Abuja, who has evidence of three years tax payment to also surety the applicant upon swearing to an affidavit of means.
The applicant was also ordered to deposit his international passport with the EFCC and that the anti-graft agency should release all the properties seized from the applicant within 21 days if he is not charged before the court.
Agbele, had dragged EFCC to the Abuja high court to challenge the legality of his detention without trial since last month by the agency.
Agbele claimed that he had been dumped into the EFCC Custody since June 27, 2016 in respect of an alleged N1.3B reportedly traced to the personal account of governor Fayose.
In a court action instituted on his behalf by a legal luminary, Chief Mike Ozekhome SAN and Olalekan Ojo, Fayose’s aide prayed the Abuja high court to award him a sum of N500m as compensatory damages for his unlawful arrest and detention.
In the motion on notice filed along with his originating summon, Agbele asked Justice Olukayode Adeniyi to order his immediate release from.
The suit seeks enforcement of his fundamental rights to freedom of liberty, human dignity and the right to acquire and own properties in line with provisions of the 1999 constitution.
He claimed that unless and except the high court comes to his rescue, his rights to freedom of liberty would continue to be trampled upon by the anti-graft agency.