Court Strikes Out Obanikoro’s Suit Against EFCC

Former Minister of State for Defence, Musiliu Obanikoro
Former Minister of State for Defence, Musiliu Obanikoro

The Federal High Court, Lagos has struck out a fundamental human rights enforcement suit filed by former Minister of State for Defence, Musiliu Obanikoro, against the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC.

Obanikoro and his family, including two wives and two sons, had accused the EFCC of unlawfully invading their houses and confiscating some of their belongings.

They had, through their lawyer, Lawal Pedro, SAN, urged the court to declare the action of the anti-graft agency as a violation of their fundamental human rights to privacy and, in addition, order the EFCC to pay them N100 million in damages.

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However, during the hearing on Monday, Justice Abdulaziz Anka struck out Obanikoro’s suit for being incompetent.

Justice Anka agreed with the preliminary objection by the EFCC lawyer, E.E. Iheanacho, who argued 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 also pointed out that the searches on the applicants’ houses were carried out based on valid search warrants secured by the EFCC from the Lagos State Magistrate Court.

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The judge also declined to 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.

The former minister is currently enjoying administrative bail after he was detained by the EFCC for his alleged involvement in the arms deal fraud involving former National Security Adviser, NSA, Sambo Dasuki.

About $100 million was allegedly paid from the office of the NSA to a company, Mob Integrated Services, believed to be owned and run by Obanikoro and his sons.

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The former minister had left for the United States shortly after the 2015 general election but he turned himself in to the anti-graft agency on his return to the country in October 2016.

It was gathered that Obanikoro had returned N100 million out of the total sum he was allegedly paid by the NSA before he was granted administrative bail by the EFCC.