A Federal High Court in Lagos on Tuesday granted an application to join the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission as a co-defendant in a N1.5bn fundamental rights enforcement suit.
The EFCC’s Head of Operations, Mr. Iliyasu Khwabe; the Inspector General of Police, Solomon Arase; and a Deputy Superintendent of Police with the X-Sqaud, Zone II Police Command Headquarters, Onikan, Lagos, Ibrahim Dantoro, were also joined.
The applicants in the suit are one Alhaji Suleiman Yerima, who later died in Kirirkiri prisons, and one Mr. Uwem Antia.
Yerima and Antia, who were arrested for alleged fraud, are urging the court to fault their alleged transfer by the EFCC to the Zone II Police Command for further investigations and torture.
They want the court to declare that it was unlawful for the EFCC and the police to be investigating them simultaneously and based on same petitions.
They are claiming damages in the sum of N1.5bn jointly and severally against the police, EFCC and the authors of the petitions that the security agencies acted upon.
Some other defendants in the suit are Capital Field and Investment Trust Limited, Smiles and Light Limited, Gladys Aginwa and Mr. Denis Ale.
Meanwhile, the EFCC had, on June 24, 2015, arraigned Yerima and Antia before Justice Lateef Lawal-Akapo of a Lagos State High Court in Ikeja.
Lawal-Akapo had, immediately after their arraignment, ordered their remand in Kirikiri and adjourned to take their bail application.
The applications could, however, not be heard till Yerima died in prison on July 17, 2015 due to complications on the injury allegedly inflicted on him by the police during investigations.
According to the prisons authorities, Yerima died after he “became unconscious during the Eid-el-fitri prayer to mark the end of Ramadan fast.”
Lawal-Akapo, while proceeding on annual vacation, had adjourned the case till November 9, 2015, but advised the accused to take their bail applications before the vacation judge.
But by the time the bail applications were brought before Justice Iyabo Akinkugbe on August 4, 2015 Yerima had died.
His lawyer, Mr. A.F. Adah, had urged the judge to grant the bail post-humously or to give direction in the case.
But the judge struck out the bail application, saying “there is no further direction to be given.”
In the five-ground post-humous bail application, Adah had accused the EFCC of stalling the hearing of the bail application till Yerima died in prison due to the maltreatment he allegedly suffered in the hands of the police.
Counsel for Yerima’s co-accused, Antia, Mr. S.A. Salaudeen, however urged the court to admit his client to bail.
Salaudeen, in the bail application for Antia, said, “The applicant is terribly ill as a result of injuries sustained during his detention and torture in the police custody.
“The applicant’s health condition has deteriorated in prison. The first defendant, who was charged along with the applicant, died two weeks after his detention because he was not given timely treatment by the prisons authorities.
“The applicant is in danger of losing his life if not granted bail.”