Senior lawyer, Ozekhome reacts as EFCC removes Benedict Peters from wanted list

Human Rights lawyer, Mike Ozekhome, SAN, has commended the Economic
and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, for conforming with the order
of the Federal High Court sitting in Abuja to remove the name of the
Executive Vice Chairman of Aiteo Group, Benedict Peters, from its
(EFCC) list of wanted persons.

The EFCC had during the week, complied with the judgment handed down
in March 2018, by Justice O.A. Musa of the High Court of the Federal
Capital Territory.

Justice Musa had ordered the anti-graft agency to remove Peters' name
from its website.

The judge described the process leading to his declaration as 'wanted'
by EFCC as unconstitutional, since it was not initiated or validated
by any known law or court order.

Reacting to this development, Ozekhome, said, "We wish to commend the
Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), under the leadership
of Ibrahim Magu, for living up to its commitment to uphold the rule of
law and obey the order of a competent court to remove the name of the
Mr. Benedict Peters, from its list of wanted individuals.

"EFCC has shown a deep regard for the sanctity of the nation's legal
system, and we can confirm that Peters' name has been cleared.

"In view of this and based on the fact that the decision by EFCC is
premised on a court order, Peters has been legally excluded from the
list of wanted persons in Nigeria. He can therefore continue his
lawful business and enjoy his constitutionally guaranteed rights."

The leading anti-graft agency had in March last year declared Peters
wanted on its website.

In response to the suit, FCT/HC/CV/23/2017, however, the court noted
that Peters has never been charged with, nor tried for any criminal
offence in any court of law, nor has he ever jumped bail for any
offence.

The court said for this reasons, Peters cannot be declared wanted by
an administrative fiat without any prior order or leave of court.

In the proceedings challenging EFCC's actions, Justice Musa declared
that, "…The very act of declaring the Applicant (Benedict Peters) a
WANTED PERSON on the official website of the 1st Respondent (EFCC)
without any prior order or leave of a Court of competent jurisdiction
to that effect is unlawful, illegal, wrongful, ultra vires,
unconstitutional and constitutes a flagrant violation of the
Fundamental rights of the Applicant to personal liberty, private and
family life, freedom of movement and Right to not to be subjected to
inhuman treatment and degrading treatment as guaranteed under Section
34, 37, 41 and 46 of the constitution of the Federal Republic of
Nigeria, 1999 (As amended) and Articles 2, 3(1) & (2), 4, 5, 6, 7, and
12(1) of the African Charter on Human and Peoples' Rights
(Ratification and Enforcement) Act 2004."
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