A former prosecutor and boss within the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, Godwin Obla against whom the EFCC has preferred a 30-count charge of conspiracy to pervert justice for N5 million, has on Monday asked a Federal High Court sitting in Lagos to declare his continued detention by the commission unlawful.
The said charges were brought against him and Justice Rita Ofili-Ajumogobia of a Federal High Court.
He made his application to the court through his counsel, Ifedayo Adedipe, who urged the honourable court to hold that the continued detention of his client since November 8, and the seizure of his mobile phones constituted an infringement on his rights to liberty and ownership of property.
“The detention of Obla from November 8 till when the EFCC obtained a magisterial order for further detention is a gross violation of his rights to personal liberty,” he said.
The counsel to the EFCC, Rotimi Oyedepo, urged the court to dismiss the applicant’s processes for lack of merit. He argued that, intelligence reports showed that the applicant had a company known as Obla & Co Ltd., from which the sum of N5 million was transferred to Justice Ofili-Ajumogobia through a company known as Nigel & Colive Ltd. and to which Mrs. Ofili-Ajumogobia was discovered to be the sole signatory to the account of the receiver-company.
He said the money was transferred to the judge during the hearing of a case before her court with suit number: FHC/L/CS/482/10. “The mere transfer of the money to the judge during the hearing of the case before her clearly showed a mind set to unduly gratify,’’ “The applicant even agreed that there was a communication between him and the judge,” he said.
He urged the court to hold that there existed a reasonable cause for suspicion by the commission and to also hold that the steps taken by the EFCC were allowed by law in the dispsensation of its investigation.
On the issue of undue detention, Mr. Oyedepo argued that on November 8 after the applicant was detained, investigations could not be concluded and so, on November 9, an application was brought before a magistrates’ court, for a remand order.
Mr. Oyedepo argued as regards the seizure of Mr. Obla’s phones that Section 44 (k) of the constitution allows for the temporary taking over of a property, for purposes of inquiry, adding that such right was qualified.
He, therefore, urged the court not to allow it to be used as a shield against lawful prosecution.
The commission has continued to detain the duo in its custody pending the conclusion of its investigations and till ruling on the application of the ex EFCC prosecutor is read.
The matter was adjourned till November 25th by the presiding judge, Justice Mohammed Idris.
Written by Okolo Ezinne