An Abuja High Court Judge, Justice Peter Affen, yesterday, berated the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, for allegedly intimidating his court and for attempting to stall a case involving it and an Austrian security contractor, Mr. Wolfgang Wolfgang Reinl who sued the anti-graft agency for N2billion for allegedly detaining him since last year without trial.
Reinl was detained since December last year by the commission in connection with the ongoing trial of the former National Security Adviser, NSA, Col. Sambo Dasuki (rtd).
Wolfgang, a security consultant, was picked up by the EFCC on 28 December, 2015 and his travel documents, phones and other materials confiscated without an order of a court.
The plaintiff’s lawyer, Mr. Afam Osigwe, had approached the Federal Capital Territory High Court for the enforcement of his client’s fundamental human right, but the EFCC through its counsel, Mr. Ibrahim Audu, told the court that the EFCC never detained Mr. Wolfgang, let alone seizing his belongings.
He said it was a “mere Litigation Secretary” in the EFCC that deposed to an affidavit indicating the detention of the plaintiff, saying Mr. Wolfgang was never detained.
The lawyer further informed the court that the said Litigation Secretary was not part of the interrogators or the arresting party, hence, he could not have been in the know of what transpired.
But the plaintiff’s lawyer insisted that two police detectives, CSP Sharo and another, Mr. Madaki had arrested his client and that the respondents have not denied the fact that the two officers worked for the commission or denied that he was released upon a bond executed that whenever he is needed, he must oblige.
However, rather than allow the plaintiff to prove his case, the EFCC urged the court to dismiss the case for gross incompetence and for the court’s lack of jurisdiction.
The commission said that, having cross-checked its register, there was no evidence showing that it ever arrested the applicant.
The proceedings, however, took a twist when EFCC lawyer filed a preliminary objection to Wolfgang’s application.
Justice Affen, who reserved ruling on the preliminary objection to a later date yet to be decided, said the plaintiff has a right to sue but EFCC insisted that the plaintiff has no right or any fundamental right to claim before the court.
Apparently uncomfortable with the use of words by the EFCC lawyer, the judge became enraged and told the EFCC not to wear the court out by dwelling on inanities.
Justice Affen lambasted the EFCC for attempting to intimidate the court, warning the commission to drop its toga of arrogance before approaching his court.
“You are in court and I am the Dominis Litis here. This is not EFCC office. You must comport yourself. The problem is that you people (EFCC) have too much physical power and you carry it to everywhere you go.
“This is not a motor park and you must not be throwing your hands anyhow and be shouting. When you come before me, you will never remain the same. You owe the court a duty of deference. Leave your policeman or EFCC powers at the door. Didn’t they teach you that in Law School?” the judge queried, saying it is wrong for people to raise all manners of objections to scuttle cases.
Justice Affen averred that rather than relying on the affidavit deposed to by the Litigation Secretary, the two arresting officers should be the ones trying to convince the court as to whether they picked and detained Mr. Wolfgang or otherwise.
The plaintiff had among others, sought declaration that his arrest and detention by EFCC since the 28th of December, 2015 is unlawful, unconstitutional, illegal and a violation of his fundamental rights guaranteed by section 35(1) & (4) of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.
He is also seeking a declaration that the restriction/confinement placed on him by the respondents by keeping him in their custody since December 28, 2015 is unlawful, unconstitutional and direct infraction of the rights of the Applicant to freedom of movement as guaranteed by section 41 of the constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999.
Besides, he is asking for a declaration that his continued detention by the respondents without informing him of his offence in writing is unlawful, unconstitutional and an infraction of the Applicant’s rights as guaranteed by section 35(3) of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999; as well as a declaration that the refusal to release him until he admits laundering undisclosed amount of money or any sum whatsoever is unlawful, unconstitutional, illegal and a violation of the Applicant’s Fundamental Rights as guaranteed by section 43 of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999.
He therefore prayed for an order of injunction restraining the respondent, whether by itself, servants, privies, agents or whosoever purporting to act on its behalf from violating or further violating his fundamental rights as guaranteed by section 34 (1) 35, (1)& (4) and 43 of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999.
The plaintiff also demanded a sum of N2billion as exemplary and aggravated damages for the infraction of his fundamental rights.
Wolfgang also asked the court for an order restraining the Respondent whether by itself, servants, privies, agents or whosoever purporting to act on its behalf from violating or further violating his Fundamental Rights through prolonged detention or upon such terms as this honourable court may deem appropriate in the circumstances, pending the determination of this suit.
Plaintiff further asked the court to order EFCC to tender a public apology to him the Applicant and also to order the immediate release of his international passport confiscated by the agency.
In an affidavit in support of the suit, the plaintiff claimed to be an Austrian national married to a Nigerian woman and was arrested by the operatives of the respondent on 28 December, 2015.


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  • vic

    THIS JUDGE NEEDS TO BE PUNISHED FOR UNLAWFULLY OBSTRUCTING THE CAUSE OF JUSTICE BY THE EFCC AND DSS TOGETHER.

    MR BUHARI, SOME OF THESE CORRUPT JUDGES HAVE BECOME CHALLENGES TO YOU AND YOUR ADMINISTRATION TOWARDS THE CHANGE THAT YOU DESIRED. GET HOLD OF THEM, INVESTIGATE THEIR BANK ACCOUNTS AND POSSIBLY LOCK THEM UP WITH THEIR CORRUPT FELLOW POLITICIANS.