Human Rights lawyer, Mike Ozekhome, SAN, has commended the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, for conforming with the order of the Federal High Court sitting in Abuja to remove the name of the Executive Vice Chairman of Aiteo Group, Benedict Peters, from its (EFCC) list of wanted persons.
The EFCC had during the week, complied with the judgment handed down in March 2018, by Justice O.A. Musa of the High Court of the Federal Capital Territory.
Justice Musa had ordered the anti-graft agency to remove Peters’ name from its website.
The judge described the process leading to his declaration as ‘wanted’ by EFCC as unconstitutional, since it was not initiated or validated by any known law or court order.
Reacting to this development, Ozekhome, said, “We wish to commend the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), under the leadership of Ibrahim Magu, for living up to its commitment to uphold the rule of law and obey the order of a competent court to remove the name of the Mr. Benedict Peters, from its list of wanted individuals.
“EFCC has shown a deep regard for the sanctity of the nation’s legal system, and we can confirm that Peters’ name has been cleared.
“In view of this and based on the fact that the decision by EFCC is premised on a court order, Peters has been legally excluded from the list of wanted persons in Nigeria. He can therefore continue his lawful business and enjoy his constitutionally guaranteed rights.”
The leading anti-graft agency had in March last year declared Peters wanted on its website.
In response to the suit, FCT/HC/CV/23/2017, however, the court noted that Peters has never been charged with, nor tried for any criminal offence in any court of law, nor has he ever jumped bail for any offence.
The court said for this reasons, Peters cannot be declared wanted by an administrative fiat without any prior order or leave of court.
In the proceedings challenging EFCC’s actions, Justice Musa declared that, “…The very act of declaring the Applicant (Benedict Peters) a WANTED PERSON on the official website of the 1st Respondent (EFCC) without any prior order or leave of a Court of competent jurisdiction to that effect is unlawful, illegal, wrongful, ultra vires, unconstitutional and constitutes a flagrant violation of the Fundamental rights of the Applicant to personal liberty, private and family life, freedom of movement and Right to not to be subjected to inhuman treatment and degrading treatment as guaranteed under Section 34, 37, 41 and 46 of the constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 (As amended) and Articles 2, 3(1) & (2), 4, 5, 6, 7, and 12(1) of the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights (Ratification and Enforcement) Act 2004.”