Court dismisses suit against EFCC
Ikeja High Court in Lagos has dismissed a fundamental rights suit filed by a businessman, Prince Benjamin Apugo, against the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), for being incompetent and lacking in merit.
The court presided over by Justice Ganiu Safari, dismissed the businessman's suit.
The businessman who is currently standing trial in a criminal charge of alleged N298, 319, 050 million fraud, in his Fundamental Right suit marked ID/4672/MFHR/17, had approached the court for a declaration that the threat of harassment, intimidation, arrest, and his detention by the EFCC in connection with charge No. ID/949C/2014, FRN Vs Yusuf Ahmed and seven others, before Lagos High Court No. 46, Ikeja Division is a gross violation of his fundamental right as protected under section 35 of the constitution of federal republic of Nigeria.
He is also seeking an order of perpetual injunction restraining the EFCC either by it's servants, agents, officers, privies or any other “persons deriving powers from or through them from inviting, interrogating, harassing, intimidating, arresting or detaining him in relation to charge No. ID/949C/2014- FRN Vs. Yusuf Ahmed and seven other before court 46 of Lagos High Court, Ikeja.”
In urging the court to dismiss the businessman's fundamental right suit, the EFCC in its counter-affidavit deposed to by Boniface Uzoechi, and filed and argued before the court by Mr. George Chia-Yakua, stated that the anti-graft agency received a petition from the Chief Executive Officer, National Theatre, Lagos, alleging N298, 319. 050. million, for the execution of contract for fencing and construction of five gates at the National Theatre, Iganmu, where in the name of the businessman his company, Bencap Nigeria Limited featured.
Yakua stated that upon analyzing the petition, the businessman was invited and accordingly shown the petition wherein Criminal allegations were made against him and his company. He added that after the businessman was granted administrative bail and secured such, he never attended reported to the agency again as he has been in the run.
The EFCC lawyer also stated that since the filing of the criminal charge, the businessman has refused to present himself for arraignment despite several adjournment, adding that the businessman through his lawyer had filed an application to quash the charge which was refused by Justice Ogunsanya of the same court.
The EFCC lawyer further stated that on June 22, 2017, the businessman's purported medical report did not show that he was indisposed and lying in any hospital whatsoever, and that there was no court order excusing him from standing trial in person, an that interim investigation revealed that the businessman is not suffering any pains from any medical condition whatsoever.
Consequently, EFCC through its lawyer, Chia-Yakua urged the court not to grant any of the reliefs or declarations sought by the businessman, as refusing his request will be in the interest of Justice.
The presiding judge, Justice Ganiu Safari, after listening to the submissions of both parties, dismissed the businessman's suit for being incompetent and lacking in merit.
However, the charge on alleges fraud of N298, 319, 050 million fraud against the businessman and seven others has been adjourned till November 8, 2017, for mention.
Others charge alongside the businessman on 18 counts charge bordering on conspiracy, obtaining money under false pretence, fraud, are: Yusuf Ahmed Atai; Brown Davies; Eng. Todor Perkow; Techo Exportstory Nig. Limited; Bud Design Nig. Limited; Bencap Nigeria Limited; and Obinna Obike.
Report by Ladipo Sanusi