A High Court of the Federal Capital Territory has slammed N6 million damages against the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) for the arrest, seizure of property and illegal detention of a lawyer, Sylvanus Okpetu.
In a judgment delivered on Friday on Okpetu’s Fundamental Rights Enforcement suit, the court also ordered Julius Berger Services Limited to pay the lawyer the sum of N3 million for causing Okpetu’s arrest, detention and seizure of his personal belongings by the anti-graft agency.
The trial Judge, Justice A. S Adepoju, in the judgement in the suit argued by Chief Mike Ozekhome (SAN) ordered EFCC to tender a public apology to Okpetu and to release his belongings seized by the Commission.
Okpetu had, through his Counsel, filed the fundamental rights enforcement suit against the EFCC and Julius Berger Services Limited, on October 12, 2015 following his arrest and detention in Warri on 11th June, 2015, on allegations of fraud reported to the EFCC against him by Julius Berger Services Limited.
The EFCC proceeded to arrest and detain him first, in Warri, with his certificates and personal belongings seized without any court warrant to that effect.
EFCC later ferried Okpetu to their detention facility in Abuja, where he was held for nearly one week, still without any court order.
The judge, in her ruling, described Okpetu”s arrest, seizure of his personal properties and detention without any court order as illegal, unlawful and unconstitutional.
The judge admonished the EFCC to note that its right to investigate persons is no licence for them to act unconstitutionally by breaching the rights of citizens.
It, therefore, awarded the sum of N6 million damages against the EFCC to be paid immediately at 10% interest rate until the entire sum is paid, for the unlawful arrest and detention of Barr Okpetu.
It also ordered that his seized properties be released immediately and that the EFCC should stop further harassing and inviting him to their offices on account of false allegations.