• As Adeseun lines up 6, 320 witnesses •
Following last Friday’s stormy session at the Federal High Court, Ibadan, between counsel to the Economics and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), Barr. Rotimi Oyedepo and those of the chieftains of the Peoples Democratic Party(PDP),- Oloye Jumoke Akinjide, Senator Ayo Adeseun and Mrs. Adedeji Otiti, regarding N650 million received by the PDP in Oyo State to prosecute 2015 presidential election, the Zonal Director of the anti-graft agency has been alerted on the need for restraint over threat to re-arrest some key party officials by the agents of the Commission.
Counsels to the three PDP chieftains are Chief Bolaji Ayorinde, SAN, Michael Lana and S. Alli
Lana in a petition dated April 8th, 2017 and addressed to the Zonal Director of the Commission in Ikoyi, Lagos alleged that about forty-eight hours to last Friday’s sitting presided over by Justice Ayo Emmanuel, an agent of the commission, Mr. Usman Zakari threatened to arrest Senator Adeseun’s surety in the matter, Pharmacist Remi Adeseun should he fail to produce the senator in court on Friday.
The three-page letter wherein the attention of EFCC lawyer, Rotimi Oyedepo, Esq, Usman Zakari, Danladi Daniel and Garba Dugum were sought, was also copied to the Station Registrar of the Federal High Court, Ibadan and the Secretary-General of the Nigerian Bar Association, Abuja because of the need for the concerned to take judicial notice of the tendency of a motion to restrain the anti-graft agency and its officers from arresting or tampering with the liberty of the defendants.
Inside Oyo recalls that Adeseun was arrested May 10th, 2016 and kept in EFCC custody for 40days during its investigation of the funds expended on behalf of the PDP to prosecute the 2015 presidential election in the state. The said N650 million was undertaken for the party by Akinjide, Adeseun and a former chairman of the party, Yinka Taiwo.
Further threats of arrest of Remi Adeseun, according to the defendant’s counsel, ran contrary to the law moreso that “he (Remi Adeseun) is one of the 6, 320 witnesses lined up by the defendant as witnesses for the defence in the charge and the law is trite that contacting, communicating with or threatening a defendant or his witness is a contempt of court.”
Lana in the letter to the EFCC Director called the attention of the commission boss to three pending applications viz a viz application to strike out the charge for want of jurisdiction; application for an order dispensing with the physical appearance of the defendant and an order of injunction restraining the complainant from arresting defendant pending the determination of the application and finally, an application for bail.
Resorting to threat of re-arrest of the defendant (Adeseun) and his surety, Remi Adeseun by the agency, Lana argued, amounted “to abuse of office and an oppressive and reckless use of power as the law is trite that once a matter has been submitted to court, it is no longer within the power of either party to do anything in relation to it.”
He reminded the EFCC agents that “the power vested in your commission to arrest and detain for the purpose of bringing a person before the court under section 35 of the constitution ceased upon your instituting a criminal charge and the appearance of counsel and to the appearance of the defendant in court. The power to bring defendants to court is vested vide section 382 of ACJA on the court and not on the commission.
“Therefore your threat of arrest of our client and his surety is nothing but a slap on the face and the usurpation of the powers of the court. This is not only an affront to the principle of separation of powers as enshrined in the constitution but also contemptuous of the court as it denigrates the judicial institution. It is also a show of unwarranted naked use of power to start punishing the defendant and his surety even before the trial started,” he stated.