Posted by By ADESINA AIYEKOTI, FEMI BABAFEMI and OLA AGBAJE on
The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) yesterday apologised to the former Inspector-General of Police, Tafa Balogun, for the treatment he got from its operatives at the resumed hearing of criminal charges preferred against him before the Federal High Court, Abuja.
The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) yesterday apologised to the former Inspector-General of Police, Tafa Balogun, for the treatment he got from its operatives at the resumed hearing of criminal charges preferred against him before the Federal High Court, Abuja. This apology came at a time Lagos fiery lawyer, Chief Gani Fawehinmi and others condemned what EFCC did to Balogun.
Speaking through its Head, Media and Publicity, Ositah Nwajah, EFCC said the scuffle that took place was "deeply regretted."
This is the second time the EFCC would be apologising for maltreating the former police boss. The first time it did was when the accused was brought to court in handcuffs which attracted condemnation from the public.
Explaining the circumstances which led to the scuffle, the EFCC stated: "With regard to the events of Wednesday, June 29, the trial judge had admitted Mr. Balogun to bail and ordered him to produce two sureties who must be holders of national honours among other conditions. However, without meeting the bail conditions, Mr. Balogun’s lawyer, Mr Tunji Abayomi, directed his client to leave the court premises. It was in the course of ensuring that the bail conditions were met, that operatives of the commission attempted to prevent Mr. Balogun from leaving the court premises.
"The scuffle that took place thereafter is deeply regretted. EFCC aligns itself with the explanation and apology offered in open court by its counsel, Mr. Rotimi Jacobs and hereby restates that contrary to the misrepresentation of the defence team, EFCC is only interested in the fair prosecution and has never contemplated the persecution of Mr. Tafa Balogun.
"We remain grateful for the exceptional support of the Nigerian people, who are constantly being asked through such antics and well-rehearsed drama as shown in the premises of the high court of the FCT, on Wednesday, June 29, 2005, to decide whether we should all continue to join hands in the collective war on corruption."
The former police boss on Wednesday collapsed at the Federal High Court, Abuja after being rough handled by the armed mobile policemen and was subsequently rushed to the National Hospital Abuja.
Reacting to the incident, Lagos lawyer, Chief Gani Fawehinmi (SAN), said that he was not happy about the way Balogun was maltreated.
"I was disturbed. EFCC should not dent its image which is very high particularly in combating corruption," he said.
Fawehinmi said what happened to Balogun should be a lesson to police officers in Nigeria to know that every Nigerian is important and that fundamental rights of each must be guided jealously by all institutions.
Also commenting on this, Alhaji Abubakar Tsav, former Lagos State Police Commissioner, said "by that singular act, it portrayed Balogun’s accusers as pursuing a personal vendetta."
Tsav described the development as most unfortunate.
Lagos lawyer, Femi Falana, said "clearly the treatment meted out to Balogun cannot be justified under the law. To that extent, the EFCC owes him a due apology.
"However, both the prosecution and the defence counsel would need to work together to ensure that Balogun who has pleaded not guilty to the charges preferred against him, has his right to fair hearing respected. In other words, fair trial can only be achieved in the circumstances if both sides are prepared to follow the process as laid down by the laws of the land."
Balogun is standing trial for allegedly corruptly enriching himself.
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