*Says EFCC Going To Press Is Devoid Of Good Faith And Administrative Decorum
*Says Statement By Wilson Uwujaren Was Not Only A Tissue Of Lies And Fabrications But Was Riddled With Indecent Language
*Says Justin Gbagir, Was Harassed, Assaulted, And Manhandled
The Makurdi Branch of the Nigerian Bar Association, NBA, has called for the investigation and prosecution of the Zonal Head of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, Makurdi, Mr. Kazeem Oseni.
In a statement made available to TheNigeriaLawyer signed by its Vice Chairman, Hemba Basil, the Branch accused the EFCC Zonal Head of assaulting the Branch Chairman, Justine Gbagir.
The Branch laments despite assurance from the Chairman of EFCC that investigation will be carried out on the matter, the Commission went ahead to issue press release calling Gbagir unprintable names
He said investigating and prosecuting the Zonal Head of the EFCC Makurdi, Mr. Kazeem Oseni, and all the operatives involved in the dastardly act of brutality against the NBA Chairman Makurdi Branch will serve as deterrence to other bad eggs in the commission who unleash terror and venomous impunity
Read details below
TEXT OF A PRESS STATEMENT BY BASIL HEMBA, THE VICE-CHAIRMAN, NIGERIAN BAR ASSOCIATION (NBA), MAKURDI BRANCH ON THE INCIDENCE OF THE ASSAULT, BATTERY, BRUTALITY, HUMILIATING, INHUMAN AND DEGRADING TREATMENT METED OUT TO THE CHAIRMAN OF THE BRANCH, JUSTIN GBAGIR, ESQ, BY OFFICERS OF THE ECONOMIC AND FINANCIAL CRIMES COMMISSION (EFCC), MAKURDI ZONAL OFFICE.
Distinguished Learned Silks, Elders of the Bar, Esteemed Colleagues, Ladies and Gentlemen of the Press.
We appreciate your timely presence at this press briefing and profoundly thank you for honouring our invitation on this very short notice.
- Recall that on the 9th of June, 2021 in the early hours of that day, the Chairman of the NBA Makurdi Branch, Justin Gbagir, Esq, made a post on facebook and other social media platforms chronicling the event of the previous night wherein he was thoroughly assaulted and battered by officers of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), Makurdi Zonal Office right inside the office of the Zonal Head of the Commission Mr. Kazeem Oseni, in the presence of The Honourable the Attorney-General and Commissioner for Justice of Benue State (AG), Michael Gusa, Esq, the Permanent Secretary/Solicitor General(PS/SG) of Benue State, Chief Simon Egede, Esq (MON), the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP), Peter Ukande, Esq and the Senior Special Assistant to the Governor of Benue State on Legal Matters, E.Z Agbakor, Esq, while the Zonal Head of the Commission nodded with mischievous and ecstatic approval.
- Consequent upon the barbaric act by the EFCC officers on the 8th of June, 2021, the Chairman of NBA Makurdi Branch as the victim, was admitted at the Benue State University Teaching Hospital, Makurdi and after administering medication on him throughout the whole night by the Medical Personnel on duty due to the excruciating pains he was going through, he was discharged on the 9th June, 2021 at about 12:00pm with an appointment to revisit the hospital on the 11th June,2021 for further examination. While all of these were happening, it was completely not without the knowledge of the National leadership of NBA, the Chairman having initially spoken to the National President, Olumide Akpata, Esq.
- The Chairman himself on the 9th of June, 2021 had made a report of the incident to the Makurdi Bar and the National President of the Nigerian Bar Association narrating the graphic details of his ordeal in the hands of the EFFC officials, which statement is already in the public space.
- In the wake of the unwarranted and barbaric attack on our Chairman by the officials of the EFCC, the NBA Branch convened an emergency meeting on the 9th of June, 2021 with a view to deliberate on the matter and take a decisive action against the brazen act of the EFFC, but we were informed at the emergency meeting that the National President of the NBA was in close talks with the EFCC Chairman, who undertook to carry out an immediate investigation into the matter with a plea to the NBA National President to appeal to the Makurdi Branch to stay further action on the matter pending the investigation. Upon receiving this information, the NBA Makurdi Branch, though highly agitated with the incident reluctantly acceded to the request of the EFCC Chairman especially as the Chairman gave all assurances that at the end of his investigation, all the officers found to be culpable in the matter will be made to face the law.
- Distinguished Colleagues, Ladies and Gentlemen of the Press, it seems to our mind that the commitment of the EFCC Chairman to get to the root of the matter was a mere subterfuge designed to allow the commission to put more insult to injury as the Commission later that same day, issued a press statements through its Head, Media and Publicity, One Wilson Uwujaren, wherein the Commission not only denied the unprovoked and reckless assault on the Chairman NBA Makurdi Branch but went ahead to call the Chairman unprintable names and also called the eminent and distinguished members of the Legal Profession, who were in the company of the Chairman as thugs.
- First, we wish to state that the conduct of the EFCC, by going to the press on this matter while the Commission made the NBA stay action on the ugly incident expecting a communication from the EFCC Chairman on his findings on the matter is devoid of good faith and administrative decorum, which should not be associated with an agency of the Government such as the EFCC which prides itself as the eagle eye and watch dog of the society.
- Secondly, we need to emphasize that the Press Statement said to be issued by one who is said to be the Head, Media and Publicity of the Commission, was not only a tissue of lies and fabrications but was riddled with indecent language which should not come from a trained and competent image maker of an agency of the Federal Government. By the above outing, Mr. Wilson Uwujaren has presented himself to Nigerians as a misfit in the office he occupies.
- We take very serious exception to the denigration of the legal profession by the EFCC and further contend that, this is one attack too many by the commission on Legal Practitioners and all attempts to stem their excesses will be vehemently and strongly resisted using all civil and legal means at our disposal. It must be noted that, after the release by the commission’s head of media, we at the Bar tarried awhile to see the reaction of the commission’s Chairman in view of his earlier intervention, but nothing was said and heard till date.
- At any rate, we wish to reiterate that the true state of affairs in this incident is as earlier set out by our amiable Chairman, Justin Gbagir Esq, which is to the effect that he was harassed, assaulted and manhandled by officials of the EFCC Makurdi Zonal Office on the 8th of June, 2021 under the watch of the Zonal Head, Mr. Kazeem Oseni. This state of affairs occurred in the presence of credible witnesses and cannot be wished away or swept under the carpet by a shameful press statement issued by a clearly insincere and untruthful public officer.
- In the light of the foregoing, it is clear to every discerning mind that, the EFCC has lost her credibility. This assertion is premised on the beastly attitude and dishonourable conduct displayed by her lame and paranoid officers who are better suited to a rehab than the esteemed commission.
- It has long been abandoned in the Stone Age when society was in its crude and abhorrent stage where members took to their arms against each other without a sovereign to adjudicate over their dispute. It is with utmost dismay that the role of the EFCC as provided in her extant laws has been long jettisoned for petty and trivial matters bearing on simple contract and priority of successors from a deceased person’s estate.
- Going forward, we demand for the immediate investigation and prosecution of the Zonal Head of the EFCC Makurdi, Mr. Kazeem Oseni and all the operatives involved in the dastardly act of brutality against the NBA Chairman Makurdi Branch. This we believe will serve as a deterrent to other bad eggs in the commission who unleash terror and venomous impunity on innocent citizens, bearing in mind that, nobody is above the law.
- Ladies and Gentlemen, Distinguished Learned Colleagues, this matter without doubt shall be followed to its rightful, proper and judicious conclusion. The maxim is, ‘ubi jus, ubi remedium’, which means that ‘where law has established a right, there should be a corresponding remedy for its breach.’
Thank you all for listening.
Hemba Basil, Esq.
NBA Makurdi Branch.
11th June, 2021.