A Federal High Court in Abuja has refused granting an application by Mrs Seinya Luku-Briggs, Chairman, Board of Directors, Moni Pulo Limited, to vacate the EFCC’s warrant of arrest to probe her.
Justice Emeka Nwite, in a ruling, held that it was the duty of the anti-graft agency to carry out its investigation conclusively.
Nwite said the EFCC’s application for arrest warrant against Lulu-Briggs, earlier granted by retired Justice Taiwo Taiwo, could not be said to be out of tune with the Administration of Criminal Justice Act, 2015.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that Taiwo had, on May 18, granted EFCC’s prayers in an ex-parte motion moved by the commission’s lawyer, Olanrewaju Adeola, for a warrant of arrest against Lulu-Briggs.
The court had directed the anti-graft agency, Department of State Service (DSS), Nigeria Police, Interpol and other security agencies to arrest her anywhere she was sighted within or outside Nigeria for probe.
But in a motion on notice marked: FHC/ABJ/CS/653/2022, Lulu-Briggs, through her lawyer, Chris Uche, SAN, prayed the court for an order vacating the ex-parte warrant of arrest issued by Taiwo against her.
The motion dated and filed July 25 , gave 18 grounds why the May 18 order should be discharged.
According the senior advocate, the issues for which the arrest order was made were purely commercial and subject of the judgment of the honourable court delivered on April 21, 2015 in suit no. FHC/PH/CP/2/2012.
Uche said that the issues leading to granting the arrest warrant were the same with the subject matter of pending commercial litigations in suit no: FHC/CA/CS/16/2021 before the Calabar Division of the court.
“At the material time of the alleged offences, the applicant was not a shareholder of the company as to be held accountable for the offences alleged to have been committed before she became a shareholder and director of the company.
“The applicant had obtained a judgment against the EFCC and the Nigerian Immigration Service (NIS) for the breach of her fundamental human rights over the same subject matter of investigation.
“By the said judgment of this honourable court delivered on 21st February, 2022, the EFCC and the NIS were each ordered to pay the applicant the sum of N15 million and render a public apology to her,” Uche said.
“The senior advocate of Nigeria said that the petitions presented by EFCC on which basis the order of arrest was made were offered as the defence by EFCC in the current suit.
“In the judgment dated 21st February, 2022 delivered in suit number: FHC/L/CS/147/2020, this honourable court made orders of perpetual injunction restraining the EFCC and the NIS from intercepting, harassing, arresting, interrogating or detaining the applicant within and outside Nigeria.
“Though the EFCC filed notice of appeal against the judgment on 13th May, 2022, no other step has been taken in respect thereof.
“The orders of perpetual injunction granted against the arrest of applicant by the judgment dated 21st April, 2022 in suit number: FHC/L/CS/147/2020 has neither been vacated nor upturned on appeal,” he said.
But in his ruling, Nwite said after perusing all the applications and affidavits filed by the parties, he found that the earlier court judgment cited in the motion had nothing to do with the EFCC’s investigation.
The judge further said that the judgment of the court was categorically on the freedom of movement of the applicant (Lulu-Briggs).
Besides, Nwite held that the EFCC was not a party to the suit in Calabar jurisdiction of the court and would, therefore, not be bound by the decision of the court.
“The order of the court cannot stop the respondent (EFCC) from carrying out its statutory duties. I therefore refuse the application,” he said.