A Federal High Court in Abuja has barred the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) from arresting or detaining a former minister of aviation, Femi Fani-Kayode, and an activist, Yinka Odumakin.
Messrs Fani-Kayode and Odumakin had filed N20 million suit against the EFCC to stop it from arresting them over their claim that the commission was plotting to arrest the Chief Justice of Nigeria (CJN), Walter Onnoghen.
The claim turned out false with Mr Onnoghen denying it. The anti-graft agency then moved to invite them for questioning.
But the duo went to the court to prevent their arrest.
In a ruling on Monday, the presiding judge, John Tsoho, ordered the EFCC to stay action pending the determination of the application on notice.
Meanwhile, Chukwuma Machukwu-Ume, a Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN), who filed the ex parte application on behalf of the duo, informed the court that they had gone into hiding ”due to the threat by the EFCC to arrest them”.
Mr Machukwu-Ume said the EFCC through its spokesman threatened to arrest them.
“The spokesman of the EFCC, Tony Orilade, was alleged to have made the threat to arrest them publicly at a conference where he represented the EFCC chairman. He said they are doing everything possible to arrest these two gentlemen just for speaking their minds,” the lawyer said.
“The EFCC is established to pursue corruption and not comments made by Nigerians, expressing themselves,” he added.
Mr Tsoho said he was satisfied that the duo sought the court’s intervention and adjourned the matter till February 4.
“Accordingly, the respondents are restrained from either arresting or detaining the applicants on grounds of the applicants’ public statements pending the determination of the application on notice,” Mr Tsoho said.