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EFCC OPERATIVES HOLDS VIGIL AT FEDERAL HIGH COURT IN LAGOS TO ARREST SUSPECT

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Armed operatives of the EFCC, on Monday, raided the Federal High Court at about 5:00 p.m.after most of the workers had closed for the day.

Armed operatives of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) raided and held a vigil at the Federal High Court in Lagos in a bid to arrest a suspect holed up on the court premises, PREMIUM TIMES reports.

On Monday evening, detectives from the anti-graft agency laid siege to the court premises located at the Waterside area of Ikoyi in Lagos.

“Armed detectives of the EFCC raided the Federal High Court at about 5:00 p.m. after most of the workers had closed for the day,” a source told this reporter.

Narrating the incident, another staff member of the court, who sought anonymity, said, “EFCC operatives arrived the court in a commando-style; searching the entire court building for what we don’t know.”

According to the source, “The head of the Federal High Court Division in Lagos, A.O. Faji, a judge, was shocked at the conduct of the operatives who ignored the Judge’s enquiry as to why they were at the court after the business of the day had closed.

“The Deputy Chief Registrar of the division, Christy Clement-Ende, was also at the office during the invasion, and we were scampering to know why they raided our office.

“The armed EFCC operatives laid siege to the court till Tuesday morning,” the source narrated.

The chief information of the Federal High Court, Catherine Christopher, could not be reached for comments as her telephone number was not reachable.

Why we were in court – EFCC

EFCC confirmed the development to our reporter in a text message on Tuesday.

The commission’s spokesperson, Wilson Uwujaren, explained that the agency’s operatives were at the court on January 24 to take a suspect, Edrian Idida Osegie, into custody.

Mr Uwujaren said the suspect, earlier ordered by a court to be released from custody, was due for arraignment in court on Wednesday January 26, 2022.

The scheduled arraignment of the suspect was what informed the agency’s action, Mr Uwujaren said.

“There was need to take him (Mr Osegie) into custody and operatives waited outside the court for this purpose. Unfortunately the suspect was holed up in court until this morning (Tuesday),” Mr Uwujaren explained in the text.

He, however, denied the narratives by court sources that the operatives ransacked the court building in a bid to rearrest the suspect.

Past invasions

Nigerian security agencies have the history of invading court premises to arrest suspects.

In March 2020, EFCC operatives invaded the Federal High Court in Abuja to re-arrest a defendant, Babatunde Morakinyo, purportedly over a fresh charge filed against him, at the Lagos division of the court.

Mr Morakinyo later sued the commission accusing its operatives of violating his fundamental human rights.

About a year after the incident, the judge, Inyang Ekwo, awarded N50million damages against EFCC, and in favour of Mr Morakinyo.

The judge ruled that the commission unlawfully re-arrested by the commission’s operatives last year.

He described the re-arrest, coming after a judge had granted bail to the defendant, as an abduction.

In December 2019, armed operatives of the State Security Service (SSS), invaded the Federal High Court in Abuja, while Ijeoma Ojukwu, a judge was sitting.

The SSS operatives, in a Gestapo manner, sought to re-arrest Omoyele Sowore, a pro-democracy activist who had been granted bail by the court after he spent 124 days in the agency’s gulag. The activist was earlier arrested for attempting to lead the #RevolutionNow protest against President Muhammadu Buhari’s regime.

Mr Sowore, publisher of Sahara Reporters, was arrested alongside Olawale Bakare in Lagos and whisked away to Abuja by the secret police for spearheading the #RevolutionNow protest, calling for good governance and accountability.

PREMIUM TIMES had reported how 15 armed officers of the spy agency, who had laid an ambush for Messrs Sowore and Bakare, invaded the court and pinned the former to the ground in Mrs Ojukwu’s courtroom on December 7, 2019 in Abuja.

There was a commotion as the officers cocked their guns, as the judge, lawyers and litigants scampered to safety.

This led to the disruption of the court sitting as Mrs Ojukwu hurriedly retired to her chamber while the court registrars, lawyers and journalists dispersed for safety.

Mr Sowore had told journalists that the SSS wanted to “kill” him after he was admitted to bail by the court.

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