Officials of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) in Lagos State have been accused of impunity bothering on abduction of two men who had been charged to court and lawfully granted bail by same court from the court premises.
Both victims identified as Ola Are and John Isiga, where standing trial at the Badagry Magistrates’ Court on charges of alleged fraud.
According to the Punch Newspaper, both men were arraigned by the EFCC on September 21, 2018 by the Morogbo Police Station.
It was reported that after both defendants had fulfilled their conditions for bail, they had returned to court for continuation of their trial on October 24; this was when they were abducted by operatives of the EFCC.
When one of the victim’s wife identified as faith realised what had happened and raised an alarm, she was physically assaulted and abducted alongside her husband, John.
The counsel to the defendants, Saidi Sanni of Leo Chambers, alleged that there was a plan to take both men to Enugu State.
“The two defendants were arrested and investigated by the Morogbo Police Division for a case of alleged fraud. After the investigation, they were charged to court and remanded in custody for about four weeks before their bail was perfected.
On October 24, the matter came up for mention for the first time. While they were in court, some EFCC officials laid siege to the court and abducted them without allowing them to stand trial on that day. They took them away together with Mr. John’s wife, who protested against the arrest. When she refused to follow them, they dragged her on the floor.
On Friday, I went to the EFCC’s office and I was told that there was an EFCC official in Enugu, who is a relative of the complainant. The relative used his connection to get them re-arrested and planned to transfer them to Enugu. That was after the police charged them to court for the same case.”
The defendant’s counsel said further that he had written a petition to the EFCC office in Lagos and demanded the release of his clients.
He threatened to sue the EFCC if they failed to release his clients.
According to the petition, the EFCC team that carried out the abduction and physical assault was led by Mr. Aminu Chauwagu of the Ikoyi, Lagos office of the agency.
The petition read further;
“The EFCC has acted ultra vires and against the tenets of the rule of law despite the pendency of the case before a court of competent jurisdiction.
The EFCC should adhere to the rule of law by obtaining a court order in the event it cannot await the pending case before the Magistrates’ Court 2, Badagry.
For the avoidance of the doubt, we want to state and reiterate most emphatically and categorically that this unfortunate action of the EFCC will definitely not go unchallenged.
We strongly demand that our clients be released within 24 hours and their property, including a Honda car with number plate, SMK 37 EC; laptops and phones be returned.”
Narrating her ordeal in the hands of the EFCC officials, Faith who was assaulted said;
“I was there (court premises) and they arrested me as well. They handcuffed me; I was injured. They dragged me on the floor and I fell. There was blood all over my body. My hands and legs were bruised. I was later released.
Ola (Are) was the one the police arrested. My husband went to the police station to see him and he was arrested as well. My husband is a friend to Ola’s father. That was how he was involved.”
Responding however, an EFCC official said the defendants were members of a syndicate and the complainant in the case was also arrested although he was released after a while.
“We do our jobs professionally. They were not arrested during court proceeding and it is not true we plan to take them to Enugu. They are members of a syndicate and investigation is ongoing,” he said.