Former Minister of State for Defence, Musiliu Obanikoro, has lost his N100mil­lion fundamental rights enforcement suit against the Eco­nomic and Financial Crimes Com­mission (EFCC).
The case was dismissed on Mon­day by Justice Abdulaziz Anka of the Federal High Court, Lagos for being incompetent
Obanikoro, his wives, Fati and Moroophat, and his sons, Gbola­hon and Babajide, had sued EFCC for what they termed an unlawful invasion of their houses and seizure of some of their property.
Through their lawyer, Mr. La­wal Pedro (SAN), the Obanikoros urged the court to declare the ac­tion of the EFFC in ceasing the property on June 14, 2016 as null and void.
They also prayed the court to award N100million damages in their favour for the violation of their rights to privacy by the EFCC.
But yesterday, the judge up­held the preliminary objection by the EFCC lawyer, E.E. Iheanacho, who contended that “since the main claim of the applicants was founded on tort, their principal re­liefs are not maintainable under the Fundamental Rights (Enforcement Procedure) Rules, 2009.”
The judge noted that the appli­cants’ houses were searched by the EFCC based on warrants secured by the agency from the Lagos State Magistrates’ Court.
Justice Anka said that he could not declare the recovered items as null and void, so as not to foreclose the possibility of the EFCC tender­ing them as exhibits in imminent criminal case against the Oban­ikoros.
He said: “What I grasped as the position taken by the learned SAN for the applicant is the alleged il­legality of the search as well as the evidence procured therefrom. It is against this background that counsel seeks to attack the action of the commission and to enforce the applicants’ fundamental right to privacy as citizens. The ques­tion to ask at this stage is whether the court can be justified to declare the search warrant as well as the evidence procured therefrom as il­legal considering the possibility of imminent prosecution of the appli­cants by the respondent in a crimi­nal court and the court will be seen to have shut out the respondent whom by statutory duty has the power to investigate and prosecute persons involved in economic and financial crimes.-The Authority