Court fines EFCC N3m for declaring Emefiele’s wife wanted

A federal high court in Lagos has criticized the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) for declaring Margaret Emefiele, the wife of former Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) Governor Godwin Emefiele, wanted.

 

Presiding Judge Deinde Dipeolu ruled in favour of Margaret’s fundamental rights suit on Friday, ordering the EFCC to pay her N3 million in damages for infringing on her rights.

In February, the EFCC had declared Margaret wanted for alleged money laundering, publishing her photos and details, along with those of three other individuals—Eric Ocheme Odoh, Anita Joy Omoile, and Jonathan Omoile—on its website and social media pages.

According to a notice signed by Dele Oyewale, the EFCC’s head of media and publicity, the four individuals allegedly colluded with the former CBN governor to divert substantial sums from federal government coffers.

Margaret, aggrieved by the EFCC’s actions, sued the agency and its chairman for declaring her wanted and publishing her photograph without a valid court order. She requested that the court order the EFCC to remove her name and photograph from the wanted persons’ list and issue a public apology on two national television stations and in three newspapers for the alleged rights infringement.

In his judgment, Judge Dipeolu concurred that the EFCC’s actions were illegal, as they did not comply with the provisions of Sections 41 and 42 of the Administration of Criminal Justice Act (ACJA) 2015, and were carried out without any valid charge or court order.

The Judge said;

“That the Applicant is entitled to the protection of her fundamental rights to life, personal liberty, right to dignity of her person, freedom of movement and right to security as guaranteed under Sections 33, 34, 35 and 41 of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria (as amended),” the judge ruled.

“And Articles 4, 5, 6 and 12 of the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights (Ratification and Enforcement) Act (CAP A9) VOL.1 Laws of the Federation of Nigeria, 2011.

“That the publication of the Applicant’s name and photograph on the website of the Respondent as having been declared “WANTED” without complying with the provisions of Sections 41 and 42 of the ACJA, and without any valid Charge and/or Court Order to that effect, amounts to a violation of the Applicant’s fundamental rights to the dignity of her person, right to personal liberty, freedom of movement and right to security.

“As guaranteed under Sections 34, 35 and 41 of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria (as amended) and Articles 5, 6 and 12 of the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights (Ratification and Enforcement) Act (CAP A9) VOL.1 Laws of the Federation of Nigeria, 2011.

“The respondent is directed to immediately withdraw the publication of the applicant’s name and photographs from the list of persons wanted by the respondents on its website.

“The respondents are directed to issue a public apology to the applicant on its website where the name and photographs of the applicant were published among the list of persons wanted.

“The sum of N3 million is awarded against the respondents jointly and severally in favour of the applicant for the violation of her fundamental rights.”

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