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Court Orders EFCC To Release Detainee After 4 Months In Custody Without Charge

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Daniel Osiagor of the Federal High Court, Lagos on Thursday ordered the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission , EFCC, to immediately release one Mr Oguma Richard Uchenna from thier custody.

Justice Osiagor while ruling on a Fundamental Right Enforcement application filed by the applicant, held that why the law recognises the power of EFCC to detain suspects for the purpose of investigation, that it was not the intent of the law under the 1999 Constitution as Amended that suspects should be help in custody in perpetuity.

The judge said ” the continued detention of the applicant since the 11th of May without being charge to court for any offence constitute a breach of the fundamental rights to liberty of the applicant and an affront to Section 35 (4A) of the 1999 constitution.

The court also restrained the EFCC from further arrest and harassment of the applicant without the leaf of the court.

It would be recalled that Justice Daniel Osiagor had last week ordered the applicant to serve court processes on the EFCC and then adjourned till today for hearing of the fundamental right Enforcement application filed by the applicant’s counsel, Mr Dennis Warri.

When the application came up for hearing today, Mr Warri told Justice Daniel Osiagor that the court order to serve the Respondent has been complied with as EFCC has been served with the proof of service in court file .

Warri, however, added that the anti- graft agency did not file any application or counter affidavit, nor were they represented in court .

He therefore urged the court to allow him move his application, Justice Osiagor then acceded to his plea, following which the application was moved and the reliefs sought granted .

It would be recalled that Uchenna through his lawyer, Mr Dennis Warri had applied to the court for the enforcement of his fundament right to liberty following his continued detention without being charge to court by the anti-graft agency since 11th of May this year.

Uchenna in suit number FHC/L/CS/ 255/22 averred that he was arrested by men of the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency, NDLEA, on the 27th of April this year in the course of carrying out his official duties as a freight forwarder at the NAHCO Export Shed and was later handed over to officials of the EFCC.

He added that despite meeting all the stipulated conditions of the administrative bail granted him by the agency, the EFCC has refused to release or charge him to court.

The applicant added that the agency had persistently refused to accept the process of the fundamental right enforcement application he filed, consequent upon which his lawyer, Mr Warri had to bring an application before the court.

He therefore asked the court to declare that his arrest and continued detention by EFCC since the 11th May, 2022 without charging him to court is unlawful, unconstitutional, null and void.

He also sought for an order releasing him from the custody of the anti- graft agency and an order restraining the Respondents, it’s servants , privies , agents from harassing , arresting and further arrest and detention without the leave of the court .

In the affidavit in support of the application, the applicant averred that he is a freight forwarder and that in the course of carrying out his normal daily work, he went to NAHCO Shed to cargo a project work for a client and that unknown to him Travellers Cheques were tucked inside the magazines he went to clear.

The applicant added that since his arrest, he had given all necessary cooperation to the EFCC to enable them track the real owner of the project work, but that EFCC refused to do same and continue to detain him without charging him to court .

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