A former prosecutor with the
Economic and Financial Crimes
Commission (EFCC), Godwin Obla
(SAN), on Monday asked a
Federal High Court sitting in
Lagos, to declare his continued
detention by the commission, as
unlawful and demanded N1billion as compensation.

The News Agency of Nigeria
(NAN) reports that the EFCC
had preferred a 30-count
charge of conspiracy to pervert
justice for the sum of N5 million
against Obla and Justice Rita
Ofili-Ajumogobia of a Federal
High Court.

The commission had detained the
duo in its custody pending the
conclusion of its investigations.

On Monday, Obla through his
counsel, Mr Ifedayo Adedipe
(SAN), brought an application,
praying the court to declare his
continued detention by the
commission as unlawful.

In his argument, Adedipe urged
the court to hold that the
continued detention of his client
and the seizure of his mobile
phones constituted an
infringement on his rights to
liberty and ownership of
property.

He said his client, who was once
a prosecutor for the EFCC was
invited to the commission on Nov.
8 and was unduly detained till
date.

According to him, the phones of
the applicant were seized,
contrary to constitutional
provisions to own property.

“ The detention of Obla from
Nov. 8 till when the EFCC
obtained a magisterial order for
further detention is a gross
violation of his rights to personal
liberty,’’ he said.

In his response, the counsel to
the EFCC, Mr Rotimi Oyedepo,
urged the court to dismiss the
applicant’s processes for lack of
merit.

Oyedepo argued that the steps
taken by the EFCC were allowed
by law in the dispensation of its
duties.

According to him, intelligence
reports showed that the
applicant had a company known
as Obla & Co Ltd., from which
the sum of N5 million was
transferred to Hon. Justice
Ajumogobia through a company
known as Nigel & Colive Ltd.

He said that also following
intelligence reports, Ajumogobia
was discovered to be the sole
signatory to Nigel & Colive Ltd.

He said the money was
transferred to the judge during
the hearing of a case before her
court with suit numbered as:
FHC/L/CS/482/10.

“The mere transfer of the
money to the judge during the
hearing of the case before her
clearly showed a mind set to
unduly gratify,’’ he said.

He urged the court to hold that
there existed a reasonable cause
for suspicion by the commission.

“The applicant even agreed that
there was a communication
between him and the judge,’’ he
said.

On the issue of undue detention,
Oyedepo argued that on Nov.8
after the applicant was detained,
investigations could not be
concluded and so, on Nov. 9, an
application was brought before a
magistrates’ court, for a remand
order.

He said the court was
empowered by the provisions of
the Administration of Criminal
Justice Laws, to grant a remand
order for 14 days, adding that
the order was given in the
presence of the applicant.

He argued that the applicant did
not file any application before
the magistrates’ court for a
variation of terms, or even an
appeal against its ruling, adding
that this court could not sit on
appeal over the issue.

On the argument of unlawful
detention, Oyedepo submitted
that even the constitution allows
for the liberty of individuals to
be curtailed, adding that the
EFCC acted in line with due
provisions of the law.

On the seizure of the applicant’s
mobile phones, Oyedepo argued
that Section 44 (k) of the
constitution allows for the
temporary taking over of a
property, for purposes of
inquiry, adding that such right
was qualified.

He, therefore, urged the court
not to allow it to be used as a
shield against lawful prosecution.
Justice Mohammed Idris fixed
judgment for Nov. 25.

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