A Federal high court sitting at the Lagos division has adjourned till 4 February, the fundamental human right enforcement suit filed before the court by Mrs Timi Beauty Akpobolokemi, wife of embattled former Director General of Nigeria Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA), Patrick Akpolobokemi against Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).
When the case was mentioned yesterday, her counsel Dr Joseph Nwobike (SAN) who announced his appearance for the applicants, told the court that EFCC may not be aware that the case has been transferred from Justice Ofili Ajumogbobia’s court where the case was formerly pending to the present court presided over by Justice Saliu Saidu. More so, he had not received any process from EFCC and therefore asked for an adjournment for definite hearing of the case.
Consequently, Justice Saidu adjourned the matter till 4 February.
On 19 November last year when the case was first mentioned before Justice Rita Ofili Ajumogobia, the judge said, “for personal reasons I am handing off the case. Consequently, the case file will be returned to the Chief Judge for re-assigment.”
In the said fundamental human right enforcement suit filed before the court, co-applicants alongside Mrs Akpobolokemi are Clement Akpobolokemi, Stephen Akpobolokemi, Julius Akpobolokemi, Victor Akpobolokemi who are biological brothers of the former NIMASA boss.
In an affidavit sworn to by Stephen Akpobolokemi and filed before the court by Dr Joseph Nwobike, the deponent averred that on 31 July, 2015, fully armed operative of EFCC numbering at least 25 stormed the residence of the former NIMASA boss at 6, Ondo Street, Banana Island, Lagos State on account of EFCC’s investigations into the stewardship of Patick Akpobolokemi during his tenure as the Director General of NIMASA.
Stephen Akpobolokemi averred further that without any search warrant, the EFCC operatives harassed them and coerced Mrs Akpobolokemi to write an incriminating statement against her husband on account of his stewardship and without the order of the court blocked the woman’s account maintained at United Bank For Africa Plc while she was invited by EFCC to report at their office on 5 November, 2015, whereas the woman has never been a staff of NIMASA and has never impeded the investigation of her husband.
The four brothers also alleged that they have been under constant threats of arrest and detention by EFCC on the account of being the brothers of Patrick Akpobolokemi, while Julius Akpobolokemi ‘s bank accounts domiciled with Ecobak Plc and Diamond Bank Plc have been frozen. Victor Akpolobokemi’s account maintained with First Bank of Nigeria was also frozen.
Stephen also contended that by the actions of the anti-graft agency, their fundamental rights to liberty have been breached. Consequently, the applicants while claiming damages in the sum of N100 million against the EFCC for the irreparable emotional and psychological damages jointly and severally suffered, are urging the court to declare that the harassment and intimidation and the threat of their arrest and detention on account of their affinity with Patrick Akpolokemi are unconstitutional, illegal and unlawful.
Two of the applicants whose accounts have been frozen are also urging the court to declare the freezing of their accounts illegal while the court should also unfreeze the said accounts.
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