Court saves consultant in Uyo from EFFC dungeon

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An Uyo high court in Akwa Ibom State has issued an interim injunction ordering the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) in the state not to further arrest and detain a consultant in the state capital.

Ubong William secured the order on Wednesday, September 16, 2020 against the Commission and two of its officers; the state head and the case officer whose names were not available in court documents.

The order is for the enforcement of William’s fundamental human rights as enshrined in sections 34 and 35 of the 1999 constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria as amended. The order is for the complaint not to be arrested or threatened until the substantive case is heard.

A team of three lawyers led by Andem Ndem led the case and obtained the order to protect William, said to be in hiding for fear of the EFFC in Uyo. It is basically “an order of interim injunction restraining the EFCC and its officers from taking any further

action and to maintain the status quo.”

In the 13-point affidavit moved by Enoto Akpabio, one of the lawyers to William, the EFCC was said to have been inviting William since 2018 and even after the case was investigated and closed by two previous heads of the Commission in Uyo, the latest head had renewed the case in June 2020.

The lawyers deposed that William’s company, Arkway Project Ltd, was contracted to serve as payment consultant for Akwa Ibom State Government in respect of payment of compensation to owners of property and individuals that were affected as a result of demolition exercise during acquisition of right of way by the Government for overriding public interest of infrastructural development in the State.

The affidavit made available to BusinessDay stated that the consultant was entitled to 10 per cent of the valuation fee for property demolished by the state government but that this amount has so far not been paid by the government, but that some estate valuers petitioned and accused the Arkway CEO of diverting the money with the former commissioner of works, Ephraim Akparawa Inyang-Eyen, who has since written two letters to the EFCC explaining that the money has not been paid.

William, who claimed N20m from the EFCC obtained an order of court declaring that the arrest by 10 o’clock in the forenoon till 7:30 pm is a violation of the applicant’s fundamental rights guaranteed under sections 34 and 35 of the Constitution.

He sought further order declaring that the harassment, intimidation, psychological trauma and incessant invitations of the applicant by the EFCC in Uyo is an infringement of the William’s fundamental right of dignity of his person guaranteed under Section 34 of the Constitution.

The affidavit gave vivid account of alleged invasion and breaking of things in William’s home and arrest of his security guard who allegedly tried to prevent the invasion.

The applicant thus asked for a declaration that “The cutting of the electric fence wire, jumping over the fence, breaking the Security doors to gain access to the residential home of the Applicant by 3rd Respondent and other officers of the 1st Respondent is a breach of the Applicant’s Fundamental Right to private life as guaranteed under Section 37 of the Constitution.”

It was gathered that by the order granted on September 16, William is free to continue his businesses pending the determination of the case as the EFCC may no longer have the rights to further arrest him except the order is quashed by a superior court in the case that the lawyers said felt like using the anti-graft agency to do ‘debt collection’.

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