Human rights lawyer Femi Falana (SAN) said the arrest, detention and prosecution of Abubakar Marshall, the lawyer who filed the lawsuit on behalf of the human rights activist the man, Omoyele Sowore, against the businessman and former lawmaker, Ned Nwoko, and the security agency, is illegal.
Falana, in a statement on Sunday, argued that Marshall’s arrest was unlawful given multiple judgments by the Federal Capital Territory High Court, which barred regional courts in the Federal Capital Territory from hearing and to adjudicate criminal cases.
The legal luminary further said that the basis on which Marshall was arrested was unlawful, noting that a “surety cannot be arrested, detained and charged with any criminal offense in a Nigerian court on the ground that a suspect jumped bail or failed to appear for investigation or arraignment”.
He further noted that the lawyer did not commit any offence, as he requested the immediate withdrawal of the criminal charge erroneously filed in the Kubwa High Court.
Falana’s statement reads: “In an effort to justify the arrest of Abubakar Marshall Esq., Police asserted that the attorney violated an unspecified provision of the Penal Code because he failed to produced a client, Mr. Omoyele Sowore at the police station in the Federal Capital Territory.
“Despite the indiscretion of Abubakar Marshall to vouch for Mr. Sowore, his arrest, detention and prosecution by the Federal Capital Territory Police Command cannot be justified under the law for two reasons solids:
“It is recorded that the High Court of the Federal Capital Territory prohibited regional courts in the Federal Capital Territory from hearing and deciding criminal cases.
“There are no less than four cases decided by the said High Court which have perpetually barred the regional courts from hearing criminal cases. See Bar. Anugom Ifeanyi Chukwu v. Grand Kadi Sharia Court of Appeal Abuja and 2 Ors Suit No: FCT/HC/CV/2107/14); Gladys Chukwu v. Hon. Gambo Garba Suit No: FCT/HC/M/4499/19; Abdulahi v. COP Suite No: M 2621/2019; Mr. Fredrick Chukwu v. Fathi & 1 Ors Suit No: M/4501/2020.
“It is common law that a surety cannot be arrested, detained and charged with any criminal offense in a Nigerian court on the ground that a suspect skipped his bail or failed to appear for investigation or arraignment. .
“The penalty is that the surety is legally bound to pay the sum stated in the recognizance or surety. Before the surety can be forfeited, the surety has the right to show cause or justify in court why he does not should not be confiscated.
“However, if the surety fails to pay the sum stipulated in the bond, the court shall recover it from the surety as a fine under the Administration of Criminal Justice Act.
“Sometime in January 2021, Monday Ubani, the current Chairman of the Public Law Section of the Nigerian Bar Association was arrested and detained for 21 days by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission on the grounds that a of his clients had skipped his bond.
“In condemning the action of the EFCC on this occasion, I underlined that the lead lawyer had committed no known criminal offense warranting his arrest and detention.
“When the EFCC refused to release him, he applied to the High Court of the Federal Capital Territory for relief by filing Monday Ubani v Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (Suit No FCT/HCV/HC /1410/2019) .
“In the judgment delivered on January 26, 2021, Judge Sylvanus Oriji correctly ruled that it was argued that the bond, which is contractual, does not constitute any offense for which the petitioner could be arrested and detained.
“In other words, the suretyship, as a commitment before an administrative body, whether it is a criminal investigation or not, is a civil contract and the remedy for its execution lies in the civil action. . The bond cannot serve as a basis for the applicant’s arrest and detention”.
“In view of the numerous decisions of the Nigerian courts on the contractual nature of the bond, Abubakar Marshall has committed no offence. Federal Capital Territory Police Command authorities are advised to withdraw the criminal charge erroneously filed in the Upper Kubwa Region Court.
Source: Shot of Sahara Journalists.