Some officials of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC9 in Lagos have been accused of abducting two men, Ola Are and John Isiga, who are standing trial at the Badagry Magistrates’ Court.
It was learnt that Are (39) and John (49) had been arraigned in the court on September 21, 2018 by the Morogbo Police Station on alleged fraud.
After reportedly perfecting their bail conditions, the defendants had returned to the court for trial on October 24 when they were allegedly whisked away by the EFCC officials on the court premises.
He said, “The two defendants were arrested and investigated by the Morogbo Police Division for a case of alleged fraud. After the investigation, they were charged to court and remanded in custody for about four weeks before their bail was perfected.
“On October 24, the matter came up for mention for the first time. While they were in court, some EFCC officials laid siege to the court and abducted them without allowing them to stand trial on that day. They took them away together with Mr John’s wife, who protested against the arrest. When she refused to follow them, they dragged her on the floor.
“On Friday, I went to the EFCC’s office and I was told that there was an EFCC official in Enugu, who is a relative of the complainant. The relative used his connection to get them re-arrested and planned to transfer them to Enugu. That was after the police charged them to court for the same case.”
It was learnt that the duo had been allegedly involved in a mobile banking fraud of over N500,000.
Sanni said he had written a petition to the EFCC office in Lagos and demanded the release of his clients, failing which he would institute a legal action against the agency.
The petition, obtained by our correspondent, stated that the EFCC team was led by one Mr Aminu Chauwagu of the Ikoyi, Lagos office of the agency.
“The EFCC has acted ultra vires and against the tenets of the rule of law despite the pendency of the case before a court of competent jurisdiction.
“The EFCC should adhere to the rule of law by obtaining a court order in the event it cannot await the pending case before the Magistrates’ Court 2, Badagry.
“For the avoidance of the doubt, we want to state and reiterate most emphatically and categorically that this unfortunate action of the EFCC will definitely not go unchallenged.
“We strongly demand that our clients be released within 24 hours and their property, including a Honda car with number plate, SMK 37 EC; laptops and phones be returned,” the petition read in part.
John’s wife, Faith, who corroborated Sanni’s account, said she was brutalised.
She said, “I was there (court premises) and they arrested me as well. They handcuffed me; I was injured. They dragged me on the floor and I fell. There was blood all over my body. My hands and legs were bruised. I was later released.
“Ola (Are) was the one the police arrested. My husband went to the police station to see him and he was arrested as well. My husband is a friend to Ola’s father. That was how he was involved.”
An official of the EFCC, who spoke to The Punch on condition of anonymity, alleged that the suspects were members of a syndicate, adding that the complainant in the case was also arrested.
The official, who refused to give details, said the suspects were in the custody of the agency, noting that the complainant had been released.
“We do our jobs professionally. They were not arrested during court proceeding and it is not true we plan to take them to Enugu. They are members of a syndicate and investigation is ongoing,” he added.
The spokesperson for the EFCC, Mr Wilson Uwajaren, did not pick his calls and had yet to respond to a text message sent to him as of press time.
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