The Federal High Court in Abuja has declared the the Economic and Financial Crime Commission does not have the power to declare anyone wanted except it first obtains a court order for that purpose or charging the suspect with an offence.
Justice Othman Musa said that the EFCC had the right to declare someone who was invited for investigation and didn’t show up as wanted, but should do so after obtaining a court order for that purpose.
The Judge stated this in a fundamental rights enforcement suit filed by the Chief Executive Officer of AITEO Group, Benedict Peters.
Peters had, in the suit marked, FCT/HC/CV/23/2017, been dissapointed that the EFCC declared him wanted on its website without following due process.
The plaintiff, through his lawyer, Mike Ozekhome (SAN), stated that this move by the EFCC without valid court order to do so was a violation against his fundamental human rights.
The EFCC had accussed Peters of been involved in the $115m allegedly used by agents of the past administration to bribe officials of the Independent National Electoral Commission during the 2015 elections.
However, the EFCC expalined that it had declared Peters wanted after obtaining a warrant from the Magistrates’ Court in Lagos, but refused to show up.
But Justice Musa, in his judgment, said that there was inaccuracy in the dates of the copy of the bench warrant tendered by the EFCC, while noting that it was wrong for the EFCC and to arrest him on the basis of the bench warrant, which he claimed did not contain any instruction to that effect.
He ruled, “The 1st respondent (EFCC) has the power to declare anyone wanted upon meeting all the conditions precedent. There cannot be a valid restraint of individual’s right to movement without the order of a court.”