A Federal High Court in Abuja has granted an ex-parte motion restraining the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) from arresting or inviting the lawyer of Innoson Nigeria Ltd Prof McCarthy Mbadugha (SAN).
The motion was sequel to a suit by the counsel to Mbadugha, Chief Mike Ozekhome (SAN) against EFCC and 5 other persons which includes GTB over the alleged detention of Mbadugha by the anti-graft commission for over seven hours.
The Court granted the application and ordered that status quo ante bellum as at 7th February 2022 be maintained until the determination of the originating motion.
Hon Justice I.E Ekwo made a confirmatory or a further order that none of the parties before the court should take any further step in respect of case which includes re-inviting and re-arresting the Applicant.
The Court also made an order for accelerated hearing of the substantive application and adjourned to 29th March, 2022 for hearing.
A statement by Head of Corporate Communications and Affairs
Innoson Group Cornel Osigwe alleged: “Sometimes in January 2022, EFCC invited Prof. J. N. McCarthy Mbadugha, SAN – counsel to Innoson Nig Ltd- to an interview on 1st February 2022. Mbadugha honoured the invitation.
“During the interrogation, EFCC showed him the counter affidavit to show cause which his Secretary deposed to and filed on 23rd March 2011 in opposition to GTB’s affidavit to show cause in a matter which has been decided by the Federal Court and the decision of the Federal High Court which has affirmed by the Court of Appeal is presently pending at the Supreme Court- SC. 694/2014.
“EFCC told the Learned Silk that the depositions in the counter affidavit to show cause were false and asked him the source of the information. But the learned SAN emphatically told EFCC- its personnel interviewing, embarrassing and humiliating him- that the depositions are true. That it was his client that provided all the information he used in prosecuting the case and that he verily believed his client.
“The Learned Silk insisted that both the trial court and Court of Appeal found that the depositions in GTB’s affidavit were false and that GTB did not deny the depositions in the counter affidavit of 23rd of March 2011 and that he relies and stands on the judgments of the two courts which have settled the matter and can only be overturned upon appeal and not the needless belated charade of investigation of the truth of the stated facts. EFCC kept him in its custody for over 7 hours.
“The motive behind the renewed interest by the EFCC to launch an investigation in a matter already decided by the courts can only be explained by GTB. This is not the first time that EFCC has chosen to take sides with GTB and allowed itself to be inveigled into matters that are not matters of crime for reasons best known to them in an issue EFCC should stand as an unbiased umpire.”
It added: “The counter affidavit that EFCC is presently investigating was filed in the Federal High Court, Ibadan Division in the matter between Innoson Nigeria Limited and Nigerian Customs Service Board. GTB filed an affidavit to show cause in March 2011 in a garnishee proceedings in Suit No. FHC/L/CS/603/2006 between Innoson Nig Ltd and GTB.
“As the main appeal is yet to be decided by the Supreme Court, the EFCC through the instigation of GTB is currently investigating some aspects of the matters already decided by the courts.
“For instance, EFCC through acts of torture and intimidation during its interrogation of Prof J. N. Mbadugha, SAN, the counsel to Innoson Nigeria Ltd, is requesting “the source of information he used in preparing the counter affidavit of 23rd March 2011where and when Prof. Mbadugha, SAN informed EFCC that he got all the information used in prosecuting the case from his client given that he did not instruct himself, the EFCC asked him to bring his client from whom he derived the information.
“It must be noted that EFCC has refused to show Prof Mbadugha, SAN a copy of the Petition allegedly written against him, however in the process of opening the file by one Mr Babangida Yahaya, a staff of EFCC, Prof. Mbadugha sighted a letter from GTB which he believed is the petition.
“Having since been subjected to endless invitations by EFCC, threats of arrest, mental torture, Prof. Mbadugha, SAN through his Counsel Chief Mike Ozekhome, PhD, SAN approached the FHC Abuja demanding for an enforcement of his fundamental human rights in consequence of which Hon. Justice I.E. Ekwo made the ex parte order of 21st February 2022 pursuant to Prof. Mbadugha, SAN’s ex parte application which was argued by his Counsel- Chief Mike Ozekhome, PhD, SAN
“The said order and the originating substantive application have been served on the EFCC and all parties in the action.”