Magu, EFCC Acting Chairman
A civil right organisation, Save Lagos Group (SLG) has dragged some personnel of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) before the Chairman of the Commission, Mr. Ibrahim Magu, accusing them of unduly harassing a Lagos based businessman, Albert Abani Uduma.
In a petition dated February 5, the group accused some staff members of the commission of undue bias in a case involving Uduma’s company, Global Investment and Communications Ltd. and a bank, First City Monument Bank over a financial transaction that is a subject of litigation in the law court.
In a statement issued on Monday by the Convener of the Save Lagos Group, Comrade Adeniyi A. Sulaiman, the civil rights organisation accused the EFCC operatives of undue harassment on the prompting of the bank with the aim of obtaining money from Uduma unlawfully.
According to the SLG, the case between the bank and Uduma is simply a civil one which is pending before the law courts but some operatives of the EFCC such as the Zonal Head in charge of Okotie-Eboh office, Mr. Akaninyene Ezima is using an operative, one Abubakar, to harass Uduma with the purpose to obtain money or in the worst scenario unlawfully jailing him, said Sulaiman.
“We are worried by the unlawful antics of Ezima who is well known to us. We had an encounter with him while he was the Zonal Head in charge of Ibadan office located at 16a, Reverend Oyebode Crescent, Iyaganku area, Ibadan, Oyo State capital. We engaged him on a number of occasions when we led the Civil Societies Coalition for Emancipation of Osun State (CSCEOS).” Sulaiman stated.
He accused Ezima specifically of frustrating moves to scrutinise the financial dealings of the Osun State Government under the leadership of Mr. Rauf Aregbesola whom they have had to accuse of sundry financial malpractices in the running of the state.
Commenting on his ordeal in the hands of the bank and the EFCC, Uduma accused the bank of plot to wind him up because of a banking transaction by converting his assets worth N200m but collaterized to about N150m in a loan facility.
“There is an effort to forcefully convert my assets by the officials of FCMB who have refused to be transparent in the commercial transactions that I have with them. My pain is that they have continued to use the EFCC as a tool to achieve their aim,” Uduma stated.
On the scope of transaction between him and FCMB branch located at 17a, Tinubu Street, Primrose Tower, Lagos, Uduma said, “I borrowed a trading facility worth N120m from the bank with the leeway to trade with N80m which I have been doing but to my surprise, I was called by the bank officials who asked that I pay my facility or that my assets be sold at ridiculous amount, which I objected to.
“I offered to sell the properties myself, which they turned down hence I requested for a comprehensive statements on my four accounts in the bank for reconciliatory purposes which they also turned down prompting me sue the bank. To my surprise, the bank officials resorted to self help my making false claim against me before the EFCC.”
A visibly broken Uduma stated that the Zonal Director of the EFCC rather than be persuaded to see the case as a civil one have been utilising his operatives, particularly, one Abubakar to harass him, saying he was even detained briefly before being left off the hook.
According to him, Ezima had once ordered his detention at the Okotie-Eboh office of the commission after several summonses which he had honoured in the past despite the fact that the case between his firm and the FCMB is currently pending before a Lagos High Court 40 sitting in Igbosere, Lagos marked suit LD/844/CMW/2015 before Hon. Justice L.A.F Oluyemi (Mrs).
Commenting further on the development, Sulaiman added that “The laws and the courts are made for the assurance of peace, order and good governance in the country, and for the society in general, which is totally and absolutely beyond the capacity of anybody including law enforcement agents and any anti-graft bodies or agencies; law, it is meant to serve the ends of justice and the court is the last arbiter of any sensible living human being-(Per Awogu JCA in University of Calabar vs Epraim (1993) (1) NWLR (Pt 271 at 551 at 566).”
He added that “Finally, EFCC must follow the rule of law in its engagement with the people to avoid putting themselves against the court and to avoid contempt or else, we will not hesitate to organize a clamorous political struggle against any lawless anti-graft agency that is not willing the rule of law and court proceedings.
“This principle applies to Uduma, we are calling on the EFCC to leave him alone pending the determination of the suit by the court, being a lawful citizen whose right is being infringed upon. We want the Chairman of the EFCC, Mr. Ibrahim Magu to call his men to order,” Sulaiman added.