End gestapo style of operation, lawyers tell EFCC
End gestapo style of operation, lawyers tell EFCC

Legal practitioners in the country have urged the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission to end its gestapo style of operation.

The lawyers, in an interview with our correspondent also urged Nigerians to unite in order to put an end to the current practice of the EFCC operatives breaking into citizens’ homes under the guise of carrying out arrests or on the basis of suspicion.

A legal practitioner, Olawale Busari, said the recent unwarranted onslaught by the officers of the EFCC was clearly an aberration to the constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.

He said, “Section 37 of the CFRN, 1999 (as amended) guarantees the right to privacy of the citizens, their homes, correspondence, telephone conversations, and telegraphic communication.

“There can be no iota of justification for the executive to violate the right as enshrined in the constitution. The only exception to this has been provided under section 45 of the same constitution. For us to appreciate the beauty of the fundamental rights of the citizens, Section 45 only permits derogation pursuant to laws made in the interest of defense, public safety, public order, public morality, or public health or for protecting the right and freedom of other persons.

“It is sad hearing citizens recount their ordeals in the hands of officers of the commission, clandestinely, in the dead of the night, without a just cause, invading people’s residence in an unprofessional manner; it is incredulous.”

Busari added that the unprofessional conduct of the officers of the commission was bad optics for Nigeria, its leadership, and the EFCC itself.

Another legal practitioner, David Akpeji said the rate at which security agencies were carrying out raids was too shocking for comfort.

“According to Sections 6 and 7 of the EFCC Act, 2004, the commission has the power to, amongst others, identify and investigate persons suspected to be involved in financial crimes. However, this should be done upon reasonable suspicion.

“Section 149(1) of the Administration of Criminal Justice Act, 2015 also provides that a person residing in a building shall allow a law enforcement agent to get free and unhindered access to carry out a search; while Section 149(2) allows the reasonable use of force when access cannot be obtained by the officers executing the search warrant.

“In essence, the use of force is only permissible when the suspect is recalcitrant.

“Contrary to the above, what we usually see these days is unprovoked use of force — security agencies barging into people’s homes with the excuse of reasonable suspicion. This must stop! People should be able to feel safe in their homes,” Akpeji said.

Recall that in recent times, several Nigerians have accused the EFCC officials of storming their homes and hotel rooms at odd hours and barging in on them in their sleeping or near-naked states.

In July, a Nollywood actress, Biodun Stephen, narrated on her Instagram page how the EFCC officials broke into her hotel room in Lagos at 3am when she was fast asleep, asking for the whereabouts of her partner.

A similar incident occurred recently when an ex-Big Brother Naija Lockdown housemate expressed anger as officers of the commission barged into her Lagos residence around 4.45am.

A worse situation happened when a man lost his life to an EFCC invasion in February 2021. The victim jumped to his death from an apartment at the 1004 Housing Estate, Victoria Island, Lagos when the EFCC officers stormed the building in search of some suspected internet fraudsters.

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