I hereby bring to the notice of the general public the flagrant and raw deployment of state apparatus by the present government against two law-abiding citizens, Mr Monday Ubani and Hon Christopher Enai, using the instrumentality of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC). Mr Ubani was the former Chairman, NBA, Ikeja branch. He was also the immediate past 1st Vice President of the NBA at the national level.
Mr. Ubani, a lawyer of many years standing, had in the course of his professional duties and as a responsible man, stood surety for his client as specifically demanded by the Acting Chairman of the EFCC, Mr Ibrahim Magu, who had rejected two Civil Servants earlier demanded by the same EFCC.
Unfortunately, Mr Ubani’s client, for whom Hon Christopher Enai also stood surety, while on bail, had her home invaded by armed EFCC security operatives from Enugu Zone over an unrelated matter concerning an alleged loan granted the client by the complainant during the 2015 elections. Since then, the suspect has not been seen. Mr. Ubani, as a responsible surety has taken every necessary step towards locating the whereabouts of his said client, including writing a petition to the Interpol to put the client on watch list, but all to no avail.
Mr. Ubani was subsequently arrested by the EFCC to produce his said client for whom he stood surety, or face prosecution.
Consequently, Mr. Ubani and his co-surety, Hon Enai, through their lawyer, Chief Mike Ozekhome, SAN, approached the court to enforce their fundamental human rights to dignity of the human person and right to liberty as guaranteed under the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, as altered, Ubani had been detained without administrative bail for eight days on the date the motion was argued, contrary to the provisions of section 35 of the 1999 Constitution that allows for a maximum of 48 hours.
In a well considered ruling on the said ex-parte application, Hon Justice Sylvanus Oriji of the High Court, FCT, Abuja, ordered the EFCC to charge Mr Ubani and his co-applicant to court on or before 28th February, 2019, or release them on bail upon meeting certain bail conditions as stated by the court itself. Mr Ubani and Hon Christopher Enai have since met the said bail conditions, but are still arbitrarily kept in EFCC gulag. In whose interest is this brazen impunity and audacious brinkmanship?
It is disheartening, as it is reprehensible that, the leadership of the EFCC has so far flagrantly disregarded the subsisting order of the High Court of FCT, Abuja, on this matter and have, by extension, desecrated the Supreme law of the land, the 1999 Constitution, as altered.
Notwithstanding that the maximum detention period allowed by the Constitution is 48 hours, Mr. Ubani and Hon Christopher Enai have been in detention for over two weeks! For standing as surety!!!
The Rule of law is the very anvil and foundation on which any civilised society is anchored. It precedes society itself and predominates over simulated national security. Indeed, modern society itself emerged from pristine stone age of irrationality through the operation of rule of law. It is clear therefore, that without the presence of rule of law and obedience to court orders, there can be no Nation state.
And without Nation state, there can be no national interest or national security. The Rule of law is therefore the father of national interest and national security. No society can exist without the Rule of law. It is immutable, ineradicable, and unchangeable.
The EFCC, contrary to its moto of “no one is above the law”, has made a god out of itself. It believes it can treat any citizen the way is suits it.
A situation whereby state apparatus is deployed towards making life uncomfortable for the citizens should be condemned in all its ramifications. I so do.
The Rule of Law presupposes that once a court of law has made an order for the release of a citizen on bail, everyone, including the president, government and all authorities, must obey the order of court. It is not for the government or its agency to pick and choose which order to obey and which not to obey, in the name of so called “national interest” or “national security”, or “fighting corruption”. This is because in arriving at a decision to release an individual on bail, the court must have first heard the facts and been convinced of counsel’s argument on the case. It is tantamounts to executive lawlessness and governmental capriciousness and whimsicality to sit on appeal over a court decision to determine what amounts to national interest or when a citizen duly granted bail should be released. Such a stance is a clear descent into anarchy and chaos.
I hereby condemn the continued illegal detention of Mr. Ubani and his co- Applicant, Hon Christopher Enai, by the EFCC without recourse to the rule of law, after a valid court had ordered their release from detention. Injustice to one is injustice to all. The EFCC should understand that no nation thrives on illegality and lawlessness, and survive.
A situation whereby the EFCC would disregard a valid and extant court order and resort to self-help is dangerous to our nascent democracy.
Mr. Ubani and Hon Christopher Enai as citizens of Nigeria are protected by the 1999 Constitution. They are presumed innocent until the contrary is proved. Standing surety for a client who has absconded without the surety’s knowledge is not a crime, but a civil matter. To underscore that this is a civil case, the EFCC has itself filed a motion before the same Justice Oriji, to compel Ubani and Hon Christopher Enai to forfeit the bail bond of N1 Billion, they had signed on behalf of their client. The present situation is therefore akin to persecution and not prosecution.
I hereby vehemently reject such administrative lawlessness which has become the poster boy of the present Federal Government and by extension, the EFCC. EFCC, please, obey the law and court orders. Release Mr Monday Ubani and Hon Christopher Ena immediately.
Dated this 2nd day of April, 2019.
CHIEF MIKE A.A. OZEKHOME, SAN, OFR, FCIArb, Ph.D, LL.D.