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AGENCY REPORT

The Federal High Court in Abuja has extended its earlier order restraining the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), the Independent Corrupt Practices and other related offences Commission (ICPC) and State Security Service (SSS) from detaining a former Zamfara State governor, Abdul’aziz Yari.

The judge, Donatus Okorowo, extended the order on Thursday after Mr Yari’s counsel, Michael Aondoaka, a Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN), made an oral application to the effect.

The development occurred following a plea for an adjournment moved by the lawyer to the EFCC, Gloria Ogbason, and her ICPC counterpart, Kemi Odogun, to enable them to file their responses to Mr Yari’s motion.

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Mr Okorowo had on 5 June issued the order restraining the law enforcement agencies from detaining Mr Yari, a senator-elect, pending the hearing and determination of an application filed by Mr Yari.

Mr Yari, under investigation by EFCC and ICPC, had applied for the court to shield him from detention, which he said could unfairly derail his aspiration to run for the Senate President’s seat in the upcoming 10th National Assembly.

The judge then ordered the agencies sued to appear in court to show cause why the prayers sought on the motion ex-parte should not be granted.

Upon resumed hearing in the matter, Mr Aondoaka, Mr Yari’s lawyer, informed that all the respondents had been served as directed by the court.

Ms Ogbason, who acknowledged receiving Mr Yari’s processes on 5 June, said they had yet to file their response.

“Therefore, we will be asking for a date since we are still within time to file, my lord,” she said.

Corroborating Ms Ogbason’s submission, Ms Odogun, who said the ICPC was served on 6 June, also sought an adjournment

“In accordance with the rules of this court, we are still within time to file, and we intend to show cause, my lord,” she also said.

Mr Aondoaka did not oppose the respondents’ intention to respond to his application. But he said: “We will only be asking for an order extending the order made on 5 June because the order was given by the court to abridge the time to show cause.”

The senior lawyer also said there was proof of service of their application on the SSS (the 3rd defendant in the suit), though the agency was not represented in court.

The lawyers representing the EFCC and ICPC did not object to Mr Aondoaka’s application for an extension of the order.

Mr Okorowo, who adjourned the matter until 27 June, barred the EFCC, ICPC and SSS from detaining Yari until they appear to show cause on the next adjourned date.

The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the 10th National Assembly will be inaugurated on 13 June after a proclamation by President Bola Tinubu.

Mr Yari, a two-term ex-governor of Zamfara, had indicated an interest in vying for the position of the Senate president of the 10th assembly.

Mr Yari had, through his team of lawyers led by Mr Aondoaaa, filed the ex-parte motion marked: FHC/ANJ/CS/785/23.

In the motion dated and filed on 2 June, Mr Yari sued the EFCC, ICPC and SSS as 1st to 3rd defendants, respectively.

In the application, the former governor prayed to the court for an order restraining the respondents and their officials from arresting, detaining and preventing him from attending or participating in the Proclamation of the 10th Senate by the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria on June 13 pending the hearing and determination of his motion on notice.

In a 15-ground argument given by the senator-elect, he said his aspiration to contest the position of President of the Senate had received overwhelming support from the general public and amongst distinguished senators-elect irrespective of party affiliations.

According to him, the support the applicant has continued to garner across party lines has drawn consternation from some members of his political party, the All Progressives Congress (APC).

The party, he alleged, had resorted to using the respondents and their agents to harass and threaten to arrest and detain the applicant on trumped-up charges for the period leading to the first sitting of the Senate when nominations and election of presiding officers shall be constituted.

“The respondents and their agents have threatened to violate the applicant’s rights as enshrined in the Constitution by unlawfully threatening to arrest and detain the applicant up to the period of the First Sitting of the 10th Senate of the Federal Republic of Nigeria on the 13th June 2023, without a warrant of arrest and informing him in writing the reasons for the arrest and detention.

“The respondents and their agents violated the applicant’s fundamental human rights as enshrined under Section 34 of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 (as amended).

“The respondents and their agents are mandated to operate within the ambit of their establishment laws and to respect the fundamental human rights of the Applicant as enshrined in the Constitution,” he said.

Yari said if the order were not given, his rights would have been breached by the respondents.

(NAN)

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