Abdulrasheed Bawa, the former Chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), who has been facing a prolonged detention without trial since June 14, 2023, has taken legal action against the Department of State Services (DSS).
In a case filed at the Lagos Division of the Federal High Court for the Enforcement of Fundamental Rights, presented by Barrister Chinedu Oburu of Edu Oburu & Co on Bawa’s behalf, he seeks a court order declaring his continued detention without trial as unlawful and demanding his immediate release.
The case, labeled as FHC/CS/2108/23, is a legal recourse based on Order 11 Rules 1, 2, and 3 of the Fundamental Rights (Enforcement Procedure Rules 2009, Sections 35(1)(4)(a), (5)(a)(b), 41(1), 46 of the 1999 Constitution as amended, and the inherent jurisdiction of the court.
In the suit submitted on October 20, 2023, the former EFCC chairman seeks the following:
1. A declaration that his detention from June 14, 2023, until the present date without formal charges or criminal prosecution constitutes a blatant infringement of his fundamental rights to freedom, liberty, and personal dignity.
2. An order mandating the respondent, the SSS, to promptly release him from custody.
Additionally, the legal practitioner, in an affidavit supporting the application, emphasized that Abdulrasheed Bawa was appointed as the Chairman of the EFCC by the government of former President Muhammadu Buhari. On June 14, 2023, he was suspended from office and subsequently detained for interrogation by the SSS.
The affidavit states:
1. Upon his arrival at the SSS offices on June 14, 2023, Bawa was immediately placed in detention.
2. For over 120 days since his detention, no criminal charges or trials have been initiated against him.
3. The continued, unlawful detention of the EFCC Chairman without formal charges constitutes a direct assault on the fight against corruption in Nigeria.
4. This prolonged and indefinite detention, without any criminal charges, represents a clear violation of the applicant’s fundamental rights as protected by the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999 (as amended).
The legal action has been taken with the overarching aim of safeguarding the rights of the applicant, upholding the principles of democracy, the rule of law, and sustaining the momentum of the anti-corruption efforts in Nigeria, all in the best interests of the Nigerian public.