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Unlawful detention: Court orders EFCC to pay N17m

A Federal High Court in Lagos on Tuesday ordered the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission to pay damages in the sum of N17m to one Mr. Adewale Adeniyi, who was unlawfully detained by the agency.
The judgment debt will be jointly paid by the EFCC and two others, Mrs. Rachadatou Abdou and Mrs. Alice Bulus, who were also joined as respondents in the fundamental rights enforcement action filed by Adeniyi.

Adeniyi, an administrative manager with Rana Prestige Industries Nigeria Limited, a company co-owned by Abdou, was detained by the EFCC in connection with an alleged fraud perpetrated in the company.
He had, through his lawyer, Chief Rickey Tarfa (SAN), approached the court alleging a breach of his fundamental right to liberty under Section 35 of the Constitution.
In the said suit, Adeniyi had sought N30m compensation for general, exemplary and aggravated damages and another N10m as the cost of filing the suit.
Justice Mohammed Yunusa, while ruling on the application on Tuesday, faulted the detention of the applicant for more than 48 hours by the EFCC.
Adeniyi claimed to have been arrested and detained on two separate occasions without a warrant of arrest.
The judge berated the EFCC for what he described as an abuse of power, saying Section 35 of the 1999 Constitution was put in place to “prevent security agencies from misusing their powers over citizens, whose rights they are meant to protect.”
Yusuna said before anyone could be validly arrested and detained, there must be preliminary investigation into the allegations against them.
“There is no evidence that there was a preliminary investigation into allegations against him before the arrest.
“No order of court authorising the arrested was exhibited before the court. The respondents acted irrationally without following due process,” the judge held.
Yunusa said security agencies must exercise restraint at all times and must not be “intoxicated” by the enormous powers they possess.
But rather than award a total of N40m claimed by Adeniyi, Justice Yunusa awarded N10m against the EFCC, N5m against Abdou and Bulus, while all the three defendants were ordered to jointly pay Adeniyi N2m as the cost of filing the suit.
The EFCC had acted following an alleged fraud in Rana Prestige Industries Nigeria Limited, where a director of the company, Gnanhoue Nazaire, the General Manager, Senou Modeste, and the company’s secretary, Ferdinand Egede, were accused of forgery and uttering of forged documents.
In a four-count eventually filed against the suspects, the EFCC accused them of conspiring among themselves on May 28, 2007 to forge Rana Prestige’s ordinary resolution which they allegedly claimed was signed by Abdou, who co-owns the company.
The anti-graft agency alleged that the suspects forged a Corporate Affairs Commission Form 7 dated November 22, 2005, claiming it was signed by Abdou.
The EFCC further accused the suspects of uttering by presenting the forged Form 7 to CAC as if it was genuine.
In the said charge, the EFCC claimed that the suspects conspired to commit a felony, through forgery and uttering of false documents contrary to sections 516, 467 and 468 of the Criminal Code, Cap C17, Laws of Lagos State of Nigeria 2003.


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