Ifeanyi Uba, Managing Director of Capital Oil and Gas
By Nwanneka Ezemelue
Despite of the fact that the police have released the Managing Director of Capital Oil and Gas, Ifeanyi Uba, from the custody of the Special Fraud Unit, (SFU), a Federal High Court in Lagos Monday struck out his bail application.
Uba and four others were arrested in connection with fuel subsidy fraud.
He was detained for over 10 days pending the conclusion of investigations on the case.
He subsequently filed a suit at the Federal High Court in Lagos to challenge his continued detention by the police for which the court last week Wednesday adjourned till Monday for ruling. But last Friday, the SFU granted Uba and his employees administrative bail.
However, ruling on the Uba’s application, Justice Okon Abang described it as incompetent, defective and so, incurable by amendment.
Abang also stated that Uba’s counsel, Mr Joseph Nwobike (SAN), had failed to inform the court that the applicants were detained on a subsisting order of remand made by Magistrate Martins Owumi.
He said the fact was not deposed to by the applicant counsel in their affidavit of urgency before the court, neither did they inform the court that they had a pending bail application before the same Magistrates’ Court.
“I have gone through the affidavit filed by the applicant counsel, and I find no place where it is stated that there was a subsisting order for remand by the Magistrate Court.
“I cannot possibly comprehend why the learned SAN has chosen to hide this fact from the court,” he said. The judge also stated that although the applicants could bring an application for bail before the court, they could not do so under the Fundamental Human Rights Enforcement Procedure Rules.
“Where bail is refused an applicant at the Magistrates Court, he has the right to bring his application before a higher court, but he has to do so within the confines of the law.
“I cannot make findings on the bail application of the applicants, brought pursuant to the Fundamental Human Rights Enforcement Procedure Rules.
“The applicants cannot use this rule to challenge a subsisting order of court. Whether the magistrate had or exceeded its jurisdiction is entirely a different issue.
“The learned SAN should have employed either of the three modes in bringing his bail application before this court.
“The applicant could have appealed against the order for remand made by the magistrate, before the High Court, pending the arraignment of the applicants, or apply for an order of Cetorarai, to purge that order, pending their arraignment, or, apply to the high court for a fresh summons for bail pursuant to Section 118 of the Criminal Procedure Act (CPA).
“I cannot consider counsel’s application for the applicants to be released on bail under the fundamental rights enforcement procedure, this relief cannot be sought under that law,” he explained.
“This is not a sentimental or emotional issue, it is an issue of law, because there already exist a subsisting order of court.
“The police possess the constitutional right to arrest any person accused of committing an offence, even if it is based on suspicion.
In the final analysis, the preliminary objection of the respondent subsists in part and the application of the applicants struck out, with no order as to cost. I so hold” Abang ruled.