The Chairman of the defunct Presidential Task Team on Pension Reforms, Mr. Abdulrasheed Maina, has filed a suit before the Federal High Court in Abuja challenging his being declared a wanted person for corruption allegations.
He argued in the suit, marked FHC/ABJ/CS/1174/2017, that the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission’s publication of his name and picture in a newspaper advertisement on November 7, 2017, declaring him wanted, was borne out of malice and amounted to a violation of his rights to dignity of person.
Maina, who was controversially reinstated into the federal civil service last year, added that the EFCC, the International Police, and other respondents’ acts of alleged intimidation, harassment, threats of arrest and detention flouted his rights to personal liberty and fair hearing.
He asked the court to make an order of mandatory injunction restraining the respondents from further making such publication against him.
The embattled ex-PTTPR chairman also demanded N500m as damages for the respondents’ previous acts which he contended violated his rights.
He sought an order restraining the respondents from further intimidating, harassing, arresting and detaining him.
Maina equally sought an order directing the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission to apologise to him in three national dailies for its newspaper advertisements declaring him wanted on November 7, 2017.
The respondents to the suit are the Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Mr. Abubakar Malami (SAN); the EFCC; the Inspector-General of Police, Mr. Ibrahim Idris; the Commissioner of Police, Interpol and the Nigerian Immigration Service.
Maina had reportedly fled the country, subsequently declared wanted and sacked from the civil service after the EFCC accused him and others of looting about N2.1bn pension funds in 2013.
But he was controversially reinstated in the middle of last year.
Following the development, the EFCC, again declared him wanted in an advertisement which had both his name and picture, published in a newspaper on November 7, 2017.
Maina’s lead counsel, O. J. Onyemah, anchored the suit, filed last December on seven grounds, one of which was that there was no legal justification for declaring his client wanted.
He argued that there was no law empowering any of the respondents to advertise/publish or parade Maina’s name and picture “as a criminal” when the plaintiff had not been tried or convicted by any court.
Onyemah also contended that “the purported warrant of arrest” relied upon by the EFCC “did not direct the publishing or parading of the applicant’s name and picture in any newspaper or media at all.”
He added that the respondents had “whimsically and severally” threatened and violated Maina’s rights even when there was another pending suit filed in 2016 by Maina and marked FHC/ABJ/CS/371/2016 to challenge the respondents’ acts of intimidation.
Maina, through the affidavit deposed to by a lawyer in his legal team, Mr. Mba Ogbudibia, and filed in support of the suit, accused the EFCC of putting him on media trial.
The affidavit read in part, “There is no warrant of arrest properly called in existence authorising the respondents, particularly the 2nd respondent, to carry out newspaper publication as stated above on which the respondents are basing their renewed intimidation, harassment, threats of arrest and detention of the Applicant.
“By the order of the Chief Magistrate Court, Abuja, dated 6/5/2016, the said magistrate decided with finality that it lacks jurisdiction to issue any warrant of arrest against the Applicant.
“The applicant has suffered serious injury and irreparable damage as a result of the reckless indiscretion and act of the Respondent complained herein.”
Part of the prayers Maina sought in his suit were, “An order of injunction restraining the respondents jointly and severally, whether by themselves, their officers, servants, agents or whosoever described, acting on their behalves, from any or further acts of intimidation, harassment, threats, unlawful arrest and detention of applicant or howsoever interfering with the applicant’s personal liberty save in accordance with due process of law.
“An order directing the 2nd respondent (EFCC) to publish and/or make a public apology to the Applicant in three national newspapers including the The Nation Newspaper for the reckless and malicious use of the name and picture of the Applicant as a wanted person for fraud contrary to Applicant’s human dignity and presumption of innocence guaranteed by the CFRN 1999 (as amended).
“N500,000,000.00 general and exemplary damages against the Respondents jointly and severally for the violation of the applicant’s fundamental rights aforestated.” – Punch.