A Federal High Court in Abuja on Friday turned down the request by a former lawmaker, Ned Nwoko for N2 billion compensation for his illegal detention for three days by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).
Nwoko had, in a fundamental human rights enforcement suit, marked: FHC/ABJ/CS/1614/2020 accused the anti-graft agency of illegally detaining him between July 11 and 13, 2016 over a case which he had been cleared.
Delivering judgment in the suit yesterday, Justice Ahmed Mohammed held among others, that he was convinced that the applicant (Nwoko) proved his case that he was unlawfully detained by the EFCC, based on the evidence brought before the court.
Justice Mohammed observed that the petition, on which the anti-graft agency relied upon in inviting Nwoko, requested the commission to investigate him in respect of judgment his company, Lintas International Limited and other companies earlier got against the Nigerian government and others in relation to some dealings with the Association of Local Government Nigeria (ALGON).
The judge held that the EFCC acted outside its powers by inviting and detaining Nwoko over an issue which he had earlier been cleared by the same Commission.
According to the Judge: “The functions and mandate of the first respondent (EFCC) are clearly spelt out in sections six and seven of the EFCC Act.
“The said Act did not, in any way donates to the first respondent the power to investigate the judgment of any court of law, not to talk of a competent court of law, such as the High Court and the Court of Appeal.
“Such powers are vested in the court established by the Constitution and donated to them by Section 6(6) of the 1999 Constitution.
“It is consequently the finding of this court that the first respondent has no vires to investigate the judgment in suit number: FHC/ABJ/CS/130/2013 between Lintas International Limited and 238 others versus the Federal Government and three others, and indeed, any matter connected thereto”, he held.
The judge further found that having issued investigative reports, clearing the applicant of any wrongdoing, it was wrong for the EFCC to turn around and claim to be investigating him based on a supposed petition.
He said it was clear from the evidence before the court that the EFCC unlawfully detained Nwoko between July 11 and 13, 2016 in violation of his right to freedom of movement among others.
Justice Mohammed added that EFCC’s letter of the invitation extended to Nwoko on November 27, 2020, constituted a violation of his rights to personal liberty and therefore illegal, null and void.
The Judge then granted eight out of the nine reliefs sought by the former member of the House of Representative and refused the ninth relief, which sought N2 billion damages against the respondents (the EFCC and the Attorney General of the Federation).