N1.299b fraud: EFCC to file stay of execution against bail for Agbele

THE Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) yesterday said it will file a motion for a stay of execution on the ruling by a High Court of the Federal Capital Territory, which ordered the release of Abiodun Agbele.

Agbele, an associate of Ekiti State Governor Ayodele Fayose, has been under EFCC probe over N1,299,490,000 wired into the governor’s accounts.

The suspect collected the slush funds from a former Minister of Defence, Mr. Musiliu Obanikoro.

Obanikoro ferried the cash to Akure Airport in a chartered aircraft with Registration No: HS125-800 5N-BMT belonging to Gyro Air Limited.

The cash was from the N4.745 billion paid into Obanikoro’s company, Sylva Mcnamara, by the Office of the National Security Adviser (ONSA) for Ekiti governorship poll in 2014.

Agbele had taken EFCC to the Abuja High Court, challenging the legality of his detention by the EFCC without trial since last month.

He sought the enforcement of his rights to freedom of liberty, human dignity and the right to acquire and own properties in line with the 1999 Constitution.

Justice Olukayode Adeniyi said the detention of Agbele since July 1 in Abuja was wrongful, unlawful, unconstitutional and a gross violation of the rights of the applicant.

The judge imposed a fine of N5 million on the anti-graft agency, to be paid to the applicant as compensation.

But the EFCC, in a statement by its Head of Media and Publicity, Mr. Wilson Uwujaren, said the ruling was shocking.

It said the agency would file a motion for a stay of execution of the ruling.

The statement said: “The EFCC will appeal the ruling of a Federal Capital Territory High Court, which granted bail to Agbele, a suspect who is being investigated by the commission for a range of alleged criminal infractions bordering on fraud and money laundering.

“Justice Adeniyi, in a ruling which the commission described as ‘shocking’, offered bail to Agbele and ordered the EFCC to pay the suspect N5 million as compensation for unlawful detention.

“The judge claimed that the failure of the EFCC to charge Agbele to court, since his arrest, amounted to an abuse of his fundamental rights.

“But the commission described Justice Adeniyi’s conclusion as ‘curious’ against the background of the information presented to the court, which included the fact that the suspect is being held with valid remand warrants issued by competent courts.

“The EFCC, however, will file a motion for a stay of execution of the ruling.”

The FCT court, in its judgment, came down hard on the EFCC yesterday, faulting its procedure of arrest and detention of suspects.

Justice Adeniyi noted that the EFCC has, of recent, engaged in unwarranted violation of citizens’ rights through wrongful detention before investigation.

The judge advised the commission to adopt the practice in civilised societies, where arrests are not effected until after investigation is concluded.

He said where arrest and detention was necessary, they must be effected in accordance with the constitution.

Agbele filed the suit through his lawyers, Mike Ozekhome (SAN) and Olalekan Ojo.

The EFCC arrested Agbele in Lagos on June 28 and kept him in its custody on the grounds that it was investigating him in relation to the N1,299, 490,000 it said was found in a Zenith Bank account.

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