A Federal high court sitting in Lagos, Southwest Nigeria has dismissed a fundamental right enforcement suit filed by a Lagos businessman Jarret Tenebe, his wife Toyin Tenebe and their company Fenix Impex Nigeria Limited against Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC.
Joined as co-defendants are a Lagos business man Femi Mabogunje and his company Ammob Nigeria Limited.
The applicants were urging the court to restrain EFCC and its agents from arresting and detaining them.
EFCC had alleged that it was investigating a case of criminal complaint of conspiracy and obtaining by false pretence and fraudulent diversion of the sum of N250 million against them.
In an affidavit sworn to by Abiodun Obadimu the personal assistant of Jarret Tenebe and filed before the court by a Lagos lawyer, Barrister John Oshigala, the deponent averred that Fenix impex Nigeria Limited Company was awarded contract to evacuate sludge seized by the Nigerian Navy and joint task force in the Niger Delta and Igbokoda area of Ondo state by the Ministry of Petroleum Resources and NNPC.
Fenix Impex Company and Ammob Nigerian Company agreed to execute the contract together and share the proceeds in the ratio of 60% to 40%.
Consequently Ammob Company made available N32 million for realization of the contract.
Upon realization of the products and goods, they were handed over to a ship which sold away the said products worth more than N1, 000, 000, 000 (one billion naira) and have not been seen from or heard from them since 2014.
Thereafter the two parties tried to work out the losses but have not come to any conclusion.
The respondent initially reported the matter to Special Fraud Unit of the Nigerian Police and later to EFCC.
Thereafter on the 25th of September the officers of EFCC stormed his house and carted away some of his handbags and Wrangler jeep. Since then, there have been threats of arrest.
Consequently, they have to run to the court for protection from this naked use and exercise of power.
They are now urging the court to restrain the defendants and their agents from further threat of arresting or detaining them.
In its counter affidavits sworn to by one of the operatives of EFCC Mr Abdulrasaq Aliyu, while denying almost all the averrments of the plaintiffs stated that the commission received a criminal petition written by law firm of Chinedu Ikem and company on behalf of Femi Maboguje and his company- Lapour Nigeria Limited bordering on conspiracy, obtaining by false pretence and fraudulent diversion of the sum of N250 million against Jarret Terebe, his wife and their company Fenix Impex Nigeria Limited.
Adefemi Mabogunje honored the invitation of the commission and adopted the content of his petition.
Investigations by the commission revealed that the contract were jointly executed while Mabogunje gave the applicants N153.4 million to execute the contract.
Jarrett Tenebe and his company were paid the contract sum by Ministry of Petroleum Resources but the applicants absconded with the entire money including the money given to them to execute the contract as well as the 60% profit entitled to the applicant.
All efforts by Mr. Mabogunje to reach the applicant proved abortive, that preliminary investigation established prima facie case of stealing by conversion against the applicants.
EFCC on the 18th of August 2016 contacted Jarret Terebe on phone to report on 1st September 2016 in order to afford him the opportunity to make clarification to the petition.
He agreed to meet the commission but did not report to date despite several opportunity and time afforded him.
His wife Toyin Terebe whose name also featured in the petition was invited but refused to honour the invitation hence the search conducted on the premises of the applicants was in compliance with a search warrant issued by a competent court of law and the commission did not in any way harass the occupants of the premises.
Contrary to the allegation of the applicants, the commission is only doing its constitutional duty when upon receipt of the criminal petition invited the applicants but they refused to honor the invitation.
Consequently, the commission urged the court to dismiss the suit on the ground that, it is a ploy to stall the investigation of the criminal complaint against the applicants and stop them from its constitutional role of investigating crimes related matters.