Court gavel justice source: file copy

An Abuja High Court, on Tuesday, stopped the probe of the alleged diversion of Amnesty fund put in place by the Federal Government to rehabilitate the militant youths in the South-South part of the federation.

The court barred the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), the Independent Corrupt Practices and other Related Offences Commission (ICPC), the Department of the State Services (DSSS), Immigration, Civil Defence and Police from arresting or detaining the principal actor in the management of the fund, Mr. Kingsley Kuku.

Justice Valentine Ashi ordered the anti-graft agencies and the security agencies not to take any action on the alleged fraud pending the determination of a suit instituted against them.

Kuku, who is the former Director General of the Presidential Committee on Amnesty fund, had approached the court with an ex-parte motion praying for his protection from arrest and detention from operatives of the anti-graft agencies.

In the motion argued by his counsel, Mr. Ademola Abimbola, the applicant complained that he had already been invited for interrogation by the EFCC through a letter dispatched to him and that unless the court intervenes, he may be arrested and detained by the anti-graft body.

Justice Ashi had, upon the motion, ordered that the defendants in the suit be put on notice and to appear before him to show cause why an order of injunction should not be granted against them.

At the resumed hearing of the motion, EFCC counsel, Mr. Victor Ukagwu, asked the court not to grant any order to stop probe of any alleged improper financial transactions.

He informed the court that EFCC had received 14 different petitions complaining of malpractices in the disbursement of the amnesty fund, prompting a letter to its chief executive to shed light on the allegations.

The counsel claimed that EFCC, as a law enforcement agency under sections 6 and 7 of the EFCC Establishment Act 2004, has power to investigate financial crimes and allegations.

Ukagwu also told Justice Ashi that Section 41 of the same Act gave it power to arrest and that EFCC merely invited the applicant for interview in respect of a financial impropriety against him.

Besides, the counsel argued that the claim of the applicant that he would be detained by EFCC was speculative because the letter extended to him did not say so.

“As of this moment, the passport of the applicant is with him and he is enjoying his medical attention in abroad unhindered,” he said and urged the court to allow EFCC do its work.

Counsel to the DSS, Mr. Clifford Osagie, told the court that his client had never written or invited the applicant for any probe and wondered why he dragged them before the court.

The counsel argued that the DSS had not received any petition against the applicant and that the applicant merely took them to court without cogent and verifiable reasons.

He submitted that even if the applicant was invited by any anti-graft agency, that should not amount to an infringement on his fundamental rights.

The ICPC, represented by Mosunmola Yetunde, denied having anything against the applicant to warrant the court action against it and urged the court to strike out the motion.

However, in his ruling, Justice Ashi held that an infringement on the rights of any person needed not carried out before such a person can approach the court for remedy.

The judge said where proceedings are pending in any court action, the parties against reliefs are being sought must not to do anything to prejudice or over reach the court.

He then barred the defendants from taking any action against the applicant pending the determination of his substantive suit and counseled lawyers to the defendants to advice their clients against any action that will ridicule the court.

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