Justice Othman Musa of the High court of the Federal Capital Territory has ruled that a court order must be obtained before anyone can be declared wanted by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC.
The judge declared this in a fundamental rights enforcement suit filed by the Chief Executive Officer of AITEO Group, Benedict Peters against the anti graft agency.
According to the court, only those who failed to honour EFCC invitation for questioning can be declared wanted and that can only be done after a valid court order has been obtained.
The plaintiff, in the suit marked, FCT/HC/CV/23/2017, had faulted EFCC for declaring him wanted on its website without following the laid down process.
His lawyer, Mike Ozekhome (SAN) had argued in the suit that the publication by EFCC that his client was a wanted person was a desecration of his fundamental rights as it was done without a valid court order.
EFCC had declared Peters wanted over allegation that he played a role in the alleged bribing of officials of Independent National Electoral Commission INEC to influence the outcome of the 2015 general election.
While faulting the action of EFCC, the judge ruled that, “The 1st respondent (EFCC) has the power to declare anyone wanted upon meeting all the conditions precedent. There cannot be a valid restraint of individual’s right to movement without the order of a court.”
Justice Musa added that declaring Peters wanted without a court order or charging him to court infringed on his fundamental rights.