The legal team of former attorney-general, Bello Adoke, has lashed out at the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) for obtaining a court order to detain him for 14 days.
Mr Adoke was arrested by the Interpol when he landed at the international airport in Abuja on Thursday afternoon. After being briefly detained by the world police body, he was subsequently handed over to the EFCC in Abuja.
The EFCC has been looking for Mr Adoke in connection with the $1.3 billion Malabu Oil scandal.
While he insisted he did no wrong in signing off on the contract as Nigeria’s attorney-general between 2010 and 2015, he has not made himself available to the federal authorities until now.
He left Nigeria shortly after leaving office in 2015, taking refuge mostly in The Netherlands where he also said he recently obtained a master’s degree in international law.
He entered Dubai last month and was arrested there based on an Interpol red notice issued against him. He was detained for a month until December 19 when he returned to Nigeria.
Mike Ozekhome, lead counsel for Mr Adoke, said the former AGF had done nothing to warrant detention by the EFCC, describing the development as “quite surprising, if not disturbing.”
The EFCC secured a court warrant to detain Mr Adoke for two weeks to allow detectives conduct additional investigations into his alleged involvement in the controversial Malabu Oil deal.
The anti-graft office secured a warrant for Mr Adoke’s arrest in April 2019, but this was quashed a few months later in October.
Mr Ozekhome said the EFCC had already charged Mr Adoke to court in absentia since 2017; therefore, it should have arraigned him before a judge the next day after he was arrested and not detain him pending investigation.
“Rather than the EFCC immediately arraigning him before a court based on charges already preferred against him even in absentia, it has resorted to obtaining an ex-parte order from the FCT High Court, to detain him for two weeks,” the lawyer said, noting that he would not want to believe that his client “will be persecuted rather than prosecuted.”
“Of what use is his present incarceration meant to achieve? Is it meant to subdue him? Punish him? Wear him out mentally, physically, spiritually, psychologically? Deny him justice? Subject him to public ridicule, derision, odium and obloquy?
“Is it meant to negatively put him in the public domain, try him, convict him and sentence him through media trial?” Mr Ozekhome said.
He vowed to approach the court to withdraw the warrant and ensure Mr Adoke is set free in compliance with existing human rights laws.
A spokesperson for the EFCC did not immediately return requests seeking comments about the two-week remand warrant for Mr Adoke.