ANTI-GRAFT AGENCY TO ARRAIGN BAYELSA ACCOUNTANT GENERAL
BY IFEDAYO ADEBAYO
March 24, 2010 02:06AM
Despite a court order on Monday, asking the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) to release Francis Okakuro, the Acting Accountant General of Bayelsa State, the commission yesterday filed a case against the trio arrested and will charge them to court this week.
A Federal High Court sitting in Yenagoa had on Monday ordered the release of Mr. Okakuro and two other directors of the state Ministry of Finance and Budget. However, the spokesperson of the agency, Femi Babafemi, said the commission still relies on a court order allowing them to be held for two weeks before charging them to court.
'We have filed charges against them in court already. They are to be arraigned any moment from now, either tomorrow or the day after. We have a court order to keep them in custody; we got the order to keep them in custody last week.
'When we arrested them last week, because we know that it may not be possible for us to arraign them immediately, we approached the court to get an order to keep them for two weeks, an order which was granted and even still ahead of the two weeks. I know that as at today, charges were filed in court,' he said.
Order to release
A Justice of the Federal High Court, Faji, had directed the commission to release Mr. Okakuro; the Director of Treasury, Abott Clinton; and his predecessor, Anthony Ikhoboh on liberal bail conditions, pending the determination of the motion on notice.
The three applicants had filed a suit against the EFCC for the enforcement of their fundamental human rights, in line with the provisions of the 1999 Nigerian Constitution and the African Charter on Human and Peoples Rights, which do not condone the detention of anyone beyond 48 hours without charge or trial.
The three senior officers of the Bayelsa State government have been in the EFCC custody since March 15, without charge or trial, and claimed that they were also denied access to their doctors and relations.
In a statement by Doifie Ola, the chief press secretary to the Bayelsa State governor, Timipre Sylva deplored the arrest of the three, describing the EFCC action as 'crude, wondering why his men would be taken away by the EFCC when no crime has been established.'