By Kayode Adeoti
The judgement on the suit between the ex-Ilorin Nigerian Bar Association (NBA)’s scribe, Sulyman Abaya and the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), which was reserved last Friday, has continued to generate anxiety among the contending parties.
Recall that the zonal office of the Commission had accused Abaya of defrauding one Pastor Adetunji Adedoyin of his property valued at N20million, thereby forcing him to carry placard which has inscription of alleged criminal conspiracy, forgery and obtaining money by false pretence.
The matter took a dramatic twist last Friday when a Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN), Joseph Bamigboye, and no fewer than 37 lawyers, from private and government chambers, stormed the court presided over by Justice Hameed Gegele, demanding enforcement of their colleague’s fundamental human rights, a public apology and N1billion compensation among other reliefs.
Abaya’s counsel, Bamigboye, informed the court that the action of the Ilorin zonal office of the EFCC was uncalled for and unconstitutional, saying the claimant was arrested and detained in the anti-graft agency’s office unduly.
According to him, Section 22 (1) of the Administration of Criminal Justice Law, Kwara State, 2019 makes it clear the ingredients of a valid arrest and detention, maintaining that the procedures were not followed.
He said, paragraph 7 of the originating summons stated that the law was not complied with.
Bamigboye submitted further alleged ill treatment of his colleague saying the anti-graft agency had already convicted him of the allegations before being tried in the court of law.
He posited that such action violated the presumption of suspect’s innocence as stated in law.
The SAN also noted that the photographs of Abaya bearing placard that had inscription of the alleged offences were uploaded on internet, saying such development was unconstitutional.
He posited that the Commission’s action has defamed his client as a father, lawyer and as an individual.
To his dismay, Bamigboye stressed that the document the commission claimed his client forged was not shown to him nor presented to court as proof.
He said the court should have been availed copies of the document his client allegedly forged in order to prove the forgery case against him.
In his response, the EFCC counsel, Andrew Akoja, urged the court to discountenance the submission of Bamigboye on the basis that the EFCC operations are guided by law.
Akoja informed the court that the idea of uploading suspect’s photograph on internet is applicable even in the international clime.
He added that Abaya should detach his person from his profession, adding that he’s not above the law even as a legal practitioner.
“What the applicant seeks is perpetual injunction, but he has been granted bail and he’s enjoying it. He was granted bail within the time prescribed by law,” the EFCC counsel said.
Justice Hammed Gegele, after adopting arguments of the two parties, adjourned the suit for judgement, noting that date will be communicated to them.
Abaya, had during a press conference held at the Ilorin NBA house, recently disclosed that he was coerced at gun point by no fewer than two police officers at the anti-graft agency’s office to carry placard despite his effort to avert it.
The lawyer added that he was overpowered by the EFCC policemen after resisting and protesting against the act for more than one hour.
He further said that his photograph was uploaded on the commission’s social media page immediately it was taken, saying the action is against his fundamental human rights of being heard in the court of law over the N20million fraud allegation.