Law News
Court awards N5m against EFCC for ‘abusing power’

Justice Mohammed Yunusa of a Federal High Court in Lagos on Tuesday awarded N5m damages against the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission for sealing up two companies in Lagos without a court order.

The companies, Hair Prestige Manufacturing Nigeria Limited and Prestige Hair Fashion Nigeria Limited, had been sealed up by the EFCC since December, 2014 over alleged fraud.

The anti-graft commission also froze four bank accounts belonging to the companies.

But giving judgment in a fundamental rights enforcement suit filed against the EFCC by the companies, Justice Yunusa said there was nothing before the court that the EFCC followed due process.

“There is nothing in the record that they (EFCC) conducted basic investigation before acting. The first respondent acted irrationally.

“I find that due process was not followed before sealing up the offices and freezing the accounts. Therefore, the application has merit,” the judge held.

The judge ordered the EFCC to immediately unseal the companies and unfreeze their bank accounts.

The judge also faulted the arrest of the directors of the companies, Gnanhoue Nazaire and Staff Senou Modeste, by the EFCC without a warrant of arrest.

He ordered the anti-graft commission to release the hard discs seized from the companies,  as well as Nazaire’s Prazo Jeep and Toyota Matrix cars and phones.

“The exercise of the powers of arrest must be done with restraint, which is the essence of a court order. The need to exercise restraint arises so as not to violate anyone’s rights,” the judge held.

The applicants had sued EFCC, its investigator, Mrs. Alice Bulus and one Mrs. Rachadatou Abdou, who petitioned the commission alleging that she was defrauded.

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