Justice Olukayode Adeniyi of an Abuja High Court at Maitama, yesterday, admitted an aide to Governor Ayodele Fayose, Mr. Abiodun Agbele, bail to the tune of N50 million. Agbele, who has been in custody of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, since June 27, had through his lawyer, Chief Mike Ozekhome, SAN, approached the high court for the enforcement of his fundamental human rights.
While querying the legality of his continued detention without trial, Agbele, told the court that the anti-graft agency arrested and kept him in its custody on the premise that it is investigating over N1.3 billion that was allegedly traced to governor Fayose’s personal bank account.
Aside praying the court to order the immediate release of his client, Ozekhome, SAN, also requested that N500 million be awarded to the applicant as compensatory damages for his unlawful arrest and detention.
Specifically, Agbele prayed the court to enforce his fundamental rights to liberty, human dignity and the right to acquire and own properties in line with provisions of the 1999 Constitution, as amended. Delivering judgment on the matter, Justice Adeniyi declared the action of the EFCC in detaining Agbele beyond the period stipulated by the law as wrongful, unlawful and unconstitutional.
He said the continued detention of the applicant without trial or a valid court order was in breach of his fundamental human rights. Consequently, Justice Adeniyi imposed a fine of N5million on the EFCC, saying the money should be given to the applicant as compensation for his unlawful arrest and detention.
The judge said the anti-graft agency could not controvert the allegation that it has kept the applicant in its custody beyond the period stipulated in section 35 of the 1999 constitution.
According to the court, the fine it imposed on the agency was to make it learn how to operate within the ambit of the law. Justice Adeniyi further faulted the commission for rushing to an Abuja Chief Magistrate Court to secure a remand warrant, while Agbele’s fundamental right enforcement application was already pending before his court.
He maintained that the Magistrate Court would not have granted the remand order if it was aware of the potency of the suit before the high court. He went ahead and voided the remand warrant the Magistrate Court issued to the EFCC. He therefore released the applicant on bail in the sum of N50 million and a surety in like sum.
The surety, according to the court, must be a top ranking civil servant with the federal government or any of its agencies and must show evidence of residence in Abuja. More over, the court directed Agbele to surrender his international passport with the EFCC.