A human rights activist, Chief Mike Ozekhome (SAN), has lamented the refusal of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission to release his client, Mr. Mohammed Adoke, the immediate past Attorney-General of the Federation.
Ozekhome in a statement on Thursday said it was unfortunate that about a week after Justice Idris Kutigi of an FCT High Court granted Adoke bail, the EFCC had refused to release him.
He said contrary to allegations by the EFCC Spokesman, Tony Orilade, the former AGF had met all bail conditions.
The senior advocate said Adoke, who was first arrested at the United Arab Emirates in December, returned to Nigeria voluntarily on December 19, 2019 having personally purchased his Emirate Airline ticket and also voluntarily boarded the aircraft without any security nudge.
Ozekhome said the former AGF was picked up at the foot of the aircraft at the Azikiwe International Airport by the Interpol, without any reasonable justification for so doing.
“He was promptly handed over to the EFCC without the EFCC charging or arraigning him before any court of competent jurisdiction, for any known offence,” Ozekhome said.
The activist said the EFCC subsequently obtained an exparte order to detain him for 14 days, which said order expired on January 2, 2020, without charging him with any criminal offence.
Thereafter, the EFCC secured yet another exparte order, to further detain our client, for another 14 days, adding up to 28 days detention.
“This unwholesome state of affairs continued until January 22, 2020, when he was eventually arraigned before the FCT High Court, Gwagwalada, Abuja, upon protests, and sustained outcry by well-meaning Nigerians,” Ozekhome said.
He said before the arraignment of his client at the FCT High Court, Gwagwalada, on January 22, 2020, his client had already been illegally and unconstitutionally detained for extra six-days, well beyond the 28 days earlier obtained through the exparte court orders; or the period allowed by section 35 of the 1999 Constitution, which prescribed 24 hours only.
Ozekhome alleged that the EFCC refused all entreaties for Adoke to be given administrative bail or allow him to seek treatment at a hospital
Ozekhome added, “It must also be emphasised that the said arrest and detention were anchored on a vacated warrant of arrest which was done by the Hon Justice D.Z. Senchi, on October 25, 2019. The illness has since rendered Adoke bent, forcing him to rely on a walking stick for support. Our client to EFCC’s knowledge is very sick, frail and vegetating away.”
The lawyer said on January 27, 2020, the EFCC finally decided to arraign Adoke.
On the January 30, 2020, after argument on the bail application on January 28, 2020, Justice Kutigi, of the FCT High Court, Gwagwalada, finally granted him bail and imposed several bail conditions which were duly met and perfected on the same day.
Ozekhome said, “It is disheartening that despite meeting the bail conditions imposed by the court, since the January 30, 2020, the EFCC is still holding our client in permanent custody, till date.
“This has further jeopardised his very poor and fragile health. The court had actually taken Adoke’s ill health into consideration in making the order for his release, with certain bail conditions.
“From the foregoing, it is crystal clear to any discerning observer that our client is no more being prosecuted, but is being persecuted, by the EFCC, which has, by this singular act, now constituted itself into an institution that acts above courts of law.”
Attempts to speak with the EFCC spokesman on Thursday evening proved abortive as he did not respond to calls.
A text message was also not responded to as of press time.