Court asks EFCC to release ex-Skye Bank Chair

February 19, 2019
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A High Court of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) in Maitama, Abuja has ordered the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) to release detained former Chairman of Skye Bank Plc, Tunde Ayeni.

Justice Yusuf Halilu, in a ruling, set aside an earlier order of the court allowing the EFCC to detain Ayeni for 14 days for the purpose of investigation.

Justice Halilu upheld the argument by lawyer to Ayeni, Ahmed Raji (SAN) to the effect that the EFCC suppressed facts which misled the court into granting the earlier the application, thereby, making the detention illegal.

The judge ordered the EFCC to immediately released Ayeni, who is said to have been arrested since February 6 this year.

Justice Halilu held that, with the submissions of lawyers to both sides, it was clear that the respondent suppressed fact when it came to ask for a remand order.

The judge noted that the respondent did not attach the fresh petition it claimed was written against the applicant, but rather attached a petition sent from the office of the Vice President .

Justice Halilu equally noted that the respondent did not inform the court that the Commission had granted the applicant an administrative bail and also that the applicant also standing trial before the Federal High Court and since been admitted to bail.

The judge noted that the court was not aware of all the fact presented by the applicant and which the respondent could not deny.

He added: “”Having considered all the facts before the court, it is clear that the respondent suppressed facts to mislead the court. If indeed there is a fresh petition against the applicant, and a pending matter is before the Federal High Court, the respondent need not a remand order, but to apply to amend the charge in which it is prosecuting the applicant.

“By coming for a remand order, the respondent had come to tamper with the sacred right of the applicant, which he enjoys. I wonder why the respondent do not attach the fresh petition it claimed it received. What I have before me is a petition written by the Office of the Vice President”.

“On this note, I hereby set aside the earlier remand order and order the immediate release of the applicant”.

The ruling by Justice Halilu was on a fundamental rights enforcement application filed and argued for Ayeni, by Raji.

The EFCC had, last week obtained an ex-parte order allowing it to detain Ayeni for 14 days.

The Commission had told the court that it was investigating a petition submitted by the office of the Vice President, in respect of Ayeni’s alleged roles as Chairman of the defunct Skye Bank.

Ayeni, by his application, challenged the order for his detention and prayed the court set it aside, claiming that it was fraudulently obtained by the EFCC.

Raji had, while arguing the application, informed the court that there is a pending charge against his client before the Federal High Court on the same subject matter.

He added that the trial judge at the Federal High Court, Justice Nnamdi Dimgba has granted bail to Ayeni in the case before the Federal High Court. He said the bail has since been perfected

Raji argued that Ayeni’s detention by the EFCC was a breach of his fundamental human right. He added that his client reported at the EFCC by himself on invitation.

Raji said the EFCC purportedly admitted the applicant to administration bail on non -realizable terms, which amounts to “giving bail with one hand, and collecting it back with the other hand”.

He argued that the subject matter in which the applicant was detained centers around Skye bank issue which is already before the Federal High Court.

Responding, lawyer to the EFCC, A.I Audu opposed to the application on ground that the subject matter of which the applicant is being detained was fresh quite different from the that of the matter before the Federal High Court.

Audu contended that aside the petition submitted by the office of the Vice President, the acting Chairman of the Commission also received a petition against the applicant from a non-governmental organization.

He however added that the applicant was invited based on the petition that he received about N8 billion from CBN to buy over Union Homes.

Audu further submitted that the applicant has been giving useful information to the Commission but fell ill along the way and he was consequently taken to the hospital.

He stated that was the applicant’s illness prompted the commission to obtain an order to further remand him to complete the investigation.

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