A businessman and legal practitioner, Chief Wale Babalakin (SAN) yesterday told a Federal High Court, sitting in Lagos that the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) has been harassing and threatening him with arrest, in spite of a court order.
Babalakin made the allegation through his counsel, Mr. Olawale Akoni (SAN) at the resumed hearing of a suit slammed against the Federal Government on fundamental rights application. Akoni had sought a clarification from the court as to the purport of the leave it had granted the applicant, on November 29, to file an application for an order of prohibition against the respondents.
He submitted that despite the leave granted in favour of his client, which he argued should ordinarily operate as a stay of further proceedings against the applicant by the respondents, they had still engaged in harassing and threatening the applicant with arrest. He said the respondents had chosen to show a total disregard to the court’s order served on them, even though the applicant had served them with both the court’s ruling and the provisions of law supporting it. Akoni, therefore, prayed the court, to give a proper interpretation and clarification, of the purport of the leave granted to the applicant by the court, in line with the provisions of Order 34 (6) of the Federal High Court Civil procedure rules, to which the leave relates.
Prosecuting counsel, Mr. Rotimi Jacobs, had told the court that the EFCC had only ensured security surveillance at the hospital where Mr Wale Babalakin was receiving treatment, to restrain his movement out of the country. Justice Idris, after listening to both counsel, slated today for interpretation of the purport of the leave granted in favour of the applicant.
Meanwhile, the applicant’s counsel had swiftly moved his application for a prohibition order before the court, arguing that the respondents had no power to prefer a charge against the applicant in Lagos State. He argued that the EFCC, not being officers in the office of the Attorney General of the Federation, could not undertake to charge the applicant with a federal offence in Lagos State, adding that it was the exclusive preserve of the Attorney General of the Federation.
Akoni also argued that to charge the applicant on an information in Lagos State, was an irregularity, as this also was the duty of the A.G Lagos State and required the fiat of the Lagos A.G on the charge. He, therefore, urged the court to grant the order of prohibition sought and restrain the respondents from continuing with the criminal arraignment of the applicant since the whole process under which it sought to do this, was irregular.
Moving a preliminary objection to the application made by applicant’s counsel, Jacobs argued that by the provisions of section 318 of the constitution as amended, a public officer could initiate criminal proceedings against accused persons in court. He argued that by that provision, public officers were construed to include officers and staffers of the respondents’ commission, which he argued was a creation and establishment of statute.