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EFCC must pay N10m fine for man’s illegal detention

Court of Appeal
Court of Appeal

The Court of Appeal has refused an appeal pointed by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) disputing the award of N50 million over the illegal detention of one Babatunde Morakinyo.

The court asserted that the rearrest of Morakinyo after he had refined his bail in Abuja and Lagos was distasteful in law and depicted the act as “oppressive, repressive and condemnable.”

This was stated by Justice Hussein on Wednesday while he delivered the unified decision of a three-man panel of the appellate court.

He clenched that there was no error or obscurity in the first decision of the Federal High Court, hence, the appeal was rejected.

The curl in the appellate court’s decision was as a result of the downward analysis of the fine banged by the Federal High Court on the anti-graft agency.

The appellate court ruled that the EFCC should pay N10 million as impeded to the N50 million earlier ordered by the Federal High Court Abuja.

According to the court, the earlier fine of N50 million was excessive.

Previously, EFCC had pulled Morakinyo to the Federal High Court Abuja on March 19 on a 23-count that was fringed on alleged money laundering.

During his arraignment, Morakinyo had pleaded not guilty and was conceded to bail. After bettering the conditions of his bail, he was released when the court endorsed the warrant for his release.

However, the EFCC had rearrested and confined him on the ground that he was to face another trial before a High Court in Lagos State.

Following his rearrest and detention, Morakinyo had instituted an action for the enforcement of his fundamental human right at the Federal High Court Abuja and sought to be compensated for the illegal detention.

Justice Inyang Ekwo had decreed in favour of Morakinyo and ordered that EFCC is to pay N50 million damages.

The act is an aberration of the tenets of the democracy we profess to practise.

Unconstitutional and illegal courthouse arrest is condemnable and punishable. The courthouse arrest of the applicant by the respondent is no less so.

Where the court has granted bail to a person and the person has met the terms of the bail, and release warrant has been issued to him, but he is facing arraignment in another court, he needs not be rearrested.

He can be served the subsequent charge and given the opportunity to appear in court on the date fixed for his arraignment.

The assumption that such a person is likely not to appear in court for the other trial is unfounded as his particulars of bail are in the custody of the court already.

The court, which he is appearing next, has the discretion to grant him bail upon the previous terms or modify same. He is aware that it is in his interest to appear in court to answer to the allegations against him.

There is no valid foundation for the subsequent arrest of the applicant on the excuse of a pending charge in Lagos, when he had been granted bail by a court of coordinate jurisdiction in Abuja upon arraignment for another charge, Justice Ekwo said.

Meanwhile, the aftermath of Justice Ekwo’s rule saw  EFCC appealing to the Court of Appeal challenging the decision of the trial court.

 

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