By Alex Enumah in Abuja
The Federal High Court, Abuja, on Monday stopped the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), the Department of State Services (DSS) and the Nigerian Police from effecting their alleged planned arrest of Femi Fani-Kayode and Yinka Odumakin.
Justice John Tsoho of the court stopped the planned arrest while delivering ruling on an ex parte application filed and argued on behalf of the complainants by their lawyer, Chukwuma Machukwu-Ume (SAN).
Both Fani-Kayode and Odumakin were rumoured to be wanted by the security agencies over their alleged defamatory comments made against the agencies concerning the planned arraignment of the Chief Justice of Nigeria (CJN) Walter Onnoghen before the Code of Conduct Tribunal (CCT).
The senior lawyer in arguing the application claimed that the three agencies were planning to arrest and detain his clients over comments they made in regard to charges filed against the CJN by the federal government.
Machukwu-Ume told the court that the spokesman of the EFCC Tony Orilede had threatened to arrest the duo over their comments at a conference where he represented the EFCC chairman.
But arguing the motion, the counsel submitted that the EFCC was established to pursue corruption and not comments made by Nigerians, expressing themselves.
The lawyer told the court that his clients were currently hiding in fear for merely expressing their freedom of speech, adding that their family members had also been affected by the threat.
The application, he said, was brought pursuant to Section 6 (6)(b) and Section 46 of the 1999 Constitution as well as Order 4 Rule 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.
“Accordinly, the respondents are restrained from arresting and detaining the applicants on the grounds of the applicants’ public statement pending the determination of the application on notice,” the judge said.
Justice Tsoho subsequently granted the application and adjourned the matter till February 4, for hearing of the substantive suit.