Following the threat made by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) to prosecute Femi Fani-Kayode and Yinka Odumakin over the spread of fake news about the trial of Chief Justice of Nigeria, Walter Onnoghen, an Abuja Federal High Court has restrained the EFCC, the Department of State Services and the Nigeria Police from arresting or detaining the duo.
Justice John Tsoho gave the order today, following an ex parte application argued by Mr. Chukwuma Machukwu-Ume (SAN) on behalf of the duo.
Machukwu-Ume told the court that the three security agencies were planning to arrest and detain his clients over comments they made with regard to the travails of the CJN.
“The spokesman of the EFCC, Mr. Tony Orilede, was alleged to have made the threat to arrest them publicly at a conference where he represented the EFCC chairman, Ibrahim Magu. He said they are doing everything possible to arrest these two gentlemen just for speaking their minds. The EFCC is established to pursue corruption and not comments made by Nigerians expressing themselves,” Machukwu-Ume said.
The lawyer told the court that his clients had gone into hiding for fear of being arrested for merely exercising their freedom of speech, alleging that their family lives had also been affected by the alleged threat.
Machukwu-Ume told the court that the application was brought pursuant to Section 6 (6)(b) and Section 46 of the 1999 Constitution, as well as Order 4 Rules 3 of the Fundamental Rights Procedure Rules.
He urged the court to grant the order restraining the respondents from arresting and detaining his clients pending the determination of the application on notice.
Justice Tsoho said that he was satisfied that the applicants had made a case that their lives were being threatened.
“I am satisfied that the applicants have made out a case for the court’s intervention. 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,” the judge ruled.
The judge adjourned the matter until February 4.
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