Court Stops EFCC From Inviting, Arresting Businessman Over Business Transaction

Engr. Akintayo Ebenezer Ogunleye, Group Chief Executive of Bethssida Africa Development PIc

Justice Ibrahim Ahmed Kala of a Lagos Federal High Court, today, restrained the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), from further threatening a businessman, Engr. Akintayo Ebenezer Ogunleye, with arrest, harassment, humiliation and detention over the business transaction that existed between him and three investors.

Justice Kala also directed the EFCC and its three officer, to forthwith halt all investigations, directed against the businessman, for the payment of the balance of the business transaction that existed between him and the three investors.

The judge made the above orders, while granting a motion Exparte on fundamental rights enforcement suit, filed by the businessman against the EFCC and six others, in a suit marked FHC/L/CS/534/2024, filed by his lawyer, K. S. Abioye.

Other listed as second to seventh respondents in the suit are: ACE Michael Wetkas (Zonal Head of Economic and Financial Crime Commission); Mr. Olawale Akande; Inspector-General Of Police (IGP) Trovest Nigeria Limited; Totima Investment Limited and United Capital Trustees Limited.

Justice Kala, held that the orders subsists till the hearing and determination of the businessman’s substantive suit.

The businessman, who is the Group Chief Executive, Bethssida Africa Development PIc, in his fundamental rights enforcement suit brought pursuant to Sections 46(1)(2) of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999 (As Amended); Articles 5, 6 and 12 of the African Charter on Human and People Rights (Ratification and Enforcement) Act Cap A9, Laws of the Federation of Nigeria, 2009, and under the court’s inherent jurisdiction. 

He is asking the court for the following reliefs; “a declaration that persistent threat of his arrest, harassment, humiliation and detention, by the fifth respondent, using the Officers of the first, second, third and fourth respondents over the business transaction that existed between him and the fifth, sixth and seventh respondents, is illegal and unconstitutional as It violates the Applicant’s fundamental rights to personal liberty, freedom of movement and dignity of human person guaranteed by Sections 35, 41 and 34 of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 (As Amended) and Articles 5, 6 and 12 of the African Charter on Human and People’s Rights (Ratification and Enforcement) Act Cap. A9, Laws of Federation of Nigeria, 2004. 

“An order of perpetual injunction restraining the respondents whether by themselves, their agents, privies and servants from further threatening the Applicant with arrest, harassment, humiliation and detention over the business transaction that existed between the Applicant and the fifth, sixth and seventh respondents. 

“An order directing the first, second, third and fourth respondents, whether by themselves, their agents, privies dnd servants to forthwith halt all investigations, directed against him, for the payment of the balance of the business transaction that existed between the Applicant and the fifth, sixth and seventh respondents.

“An order directing the respondents to render a Public Apology to him in Three National Dailies for the persistent threat of arrest, harassment and humiliation and detention of the Applicant, over the business transaction that existed the Applicant and the fifth, sixth and seventh respondents. 

“An order directing the respondents either jointly or severally to pay to him the sum of N100 million, as compensation or damages for the psychological trauma suffered by him from the activities of the Respondents’ that infringed his fundamental rights.”

The businessman in a-36 paragraph-affidavit in support of the motion stated that the fifth, sixth and seventh respondents (Trovest Nigeria Limited; Totima Investment Limited and United Capital Trustees Limited) approached him for a business transaction and parties agreed on terms and conditions for the money to be invested with him.

He stated that sometimes in the month of July 2023, the fifth respondent wrote series of petition to the first and fourth respondents respectively, asking the first and fourth respondents to act as Debt Recovery agent. Adding that upon receiving the petition, the first to third respondents invaded his office but unfortunately, he was not in the office on that faithful day. 

He stated that since the time of his arrest, has not been able to operate his lawful business due to the constant harassment and intimidation from the first to fourth respondents through the fifth to seventh respondents.

The businessman further stated that he was arrest by the officers of the fourth respondent at Special Fraud Unit, Ikoyi Lagos and was kept in detention till March 1, 2024, before he was charged to the federal High Court, Ikoyi Lagos. Adding that the fifth to and seventh respondents, are also part of the complainants in the charge at the Federal High Court in suit number FHC/L/94C/2024, currently pending before her Lordship Justice Bogoro. 

He stated that that the first to fourth respondents have been making arrangements to arrest him again on a matter presently before a court of competent jurisdiction. And that as a fact, he did explain to the respondents that he also invested in other businesses which are having some economy challenges and the evidence were given to the first respondent, as he is on top of the situation to ensure all customers receive their funds back.

He stated that the fifth to seventh respondents threatened that they will use their connection at the first respondent’s office to ensure that him and senior staff will be invited, arrested, harassed, detained and humiliated by the Officers of the first and fourth respondents, and that nobody will be able to rescue us there. 

He stated that the first to third respondents carried out part of their threat on 30th January, 2024, when they went to his house to inscribe on his building captured (EFCC UNDER INVESTIGATION). 

He further averred that his counsel was sent to the first and second respondents’ Office, to explain the status of the case and how far he is trying to settle the customers without any delay. And that despite explanation to the first and second respondents on the status of the case and how far is trying to settle the customers without any delay and the relationship with the fifth to seventh respondents are contractual with documents to back the claim up, and that the fifth to seventh respondents will be paid the balance of their investment as soon as possible, but men of the first and second respondents are hell bent and ready to help the fifth to seventh Respondents carry out their threat of arrest, harassment, detention and humiliation. 

He stated that knowing fully well that the matter has been charged to court, they have now rushed to the first and second respondents to use them to carry out their threats of arrest, harassment, detention and humiliation of the Applicant over an issue that is purely contractual. 

He stated that he need the intervention of the Honourable to enforce his Fundamental Rights to personal liberty, freedom of movement and dignity of human person against threatened infringement by the first to seventh respondents. And that unless the Honourable Court intervenes promptly, he stand the risk of being arrested and perpetually detained, harassed and humiliated by the Respondents. 

He stated that the activities of the respondents have continued to psychologically traumatized me and are injuring my professional reputation. 

Meanwhile, Justice Kala has fixed May 2, for hearing of the businessman’s substantive suit.

The judge also ordered the originating motion and the hearing notice be served on the second to seventh respondents.