A Federal High Court in Lagos today adjourned until February 4 the fundamental human rights enforcement suit filed against the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), by Timi Beauty Akpobolokemi, the wife of the former Director General of Nigeria Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA), Patrick Akpobolokemi.
In an affidavit sworn to by brothers of Dr. Akpobolokemi for emotional and psychological damages, they are asking the court for a compensation of N100 million.
In court today, Joseph Nwobike (SAN), who announced his appearance for the applicants, told the court that the EFCC might be unaware that the case had been transferred from Justice Ofili Ajumogbobia's court, where it was pending, to the present court being presided over by Justice Saliu Saidu. He indicated he had not received any process from EFCC, and, therefore, asked for an adjournment of the hearing.
On November 19 last year when the case was first mentioned before Justice Rita Ofili Ajumogobia, she recused herself from the case for what she called “personal reasons”, saying it would be returned to the Chief Judge for re-assignment.
In the said fundamental human rights enforcement suit filed before the court, the co-applicants alongside Mrs. Akpobolokemi are Clement Akpobolokemi, Stephen Akpobolokemi, Julius Akpobolokemi, and Victor Akpobolokemi, biological brothers of the former NIMASA boss.
In an affidavit filed before the court by Dr Nwobike on behalf of Stephen, the deponent averred that, on July 31, 2015, armed operatives of the EFCC, numbering about 25, stormed the residence of the former NIMASA boss at Banana Island in Lagos State in connection with the agency’s investigations into the stewardship of Dr. Akpobolokemi at NIMASA.
Stephen averred further that without any search warrant, the EFCC operatives harassed them and coerced Mrs. Akpobolokemi to write an incriminating statement against her husband. He stated that without a court order, the EFCC blocked the woman's account at United Bank For Africa Plc and that she was invited by the agency to report at their office on November 5, 2015, despite never having been on the staff of NIMASA and never impeding the investigation of her husband.
The four brothers also alleged that they have been under constant threats of arrest and detention by EFCC on the account of been the brothers of Dr. Akpobolokemi and that Julius’ bank accounts with Ecobank Plc and Diamond bank Plc have been frozen, as has Victor’s account with the First Bank of Nigeria.
Stephen also contended that by the actions of the anti-graft agency, their fundamental right to liberty has been breached.
Consequently, the applicants are asking for damages in the sum of N100 million against the EFCC for the irreparable emotional and psychological damages jointly and severally they have suffered. They are also urging the court to declare that the harassment and intimidation and the threat of their arrest and detention on account of their affinity with Dr. Akpobolokemii are unconstitutional, illegal and unlawful.
They are also urging the court to declare the freezing of their accounts to be illegal and to unfreeze them.
Justice Saidu adjourned the matter to February 4.