A Federal Capital Territory High Court has reportedly ruled that the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission could declare ‘anyone wanted’ provided it had a valid court order to do so. Justice A.O Musa gave the ruling in a suit filed against the EFCC by Benedict Peters, the managing director of Aiteo Energy Resources Limited. Peters, through his counsel Mike Ozekhome, asked the court to declare the EFCC was wrong for declaring him.
Ozekhome also argued that the EFCC’s action breached Peters’ fundamental human rights. He added that EFCC operatives sometime in Peters’ house shot indiscriminately and harassed innocent persons.
However, the EFCC argued that it was compelled to declare Peters wanted after he ignored several invitations for questioning. The anti-corruption agency claimed Peters, a former Petroleum Minister Diezani Madueke; Benard Otti; Northern Belt Oil and Gas Company Limited and other persons of interest stole and laundered over $300million. It said Peters claimed he was ill and failed to honour its invitations.
“Peters did not show up for the invitation. Instead, several letters were received by the Commission, alleging medical grounds”, said the EFCC. The EFCC said it got an arrest warrant, which enabled it to declare Peters wanted on August 5, 2016.
The court ruled that EFCC declaring Peters wanted was unconstitutional, based on the circumstances of the case. But the court affirmed the ECC’s investigative powers and its right to declare anyone wanted.