An FCT Abuja High Court on Wednesday ruled that the arrest and detention of a surety after the subject he stood surety for jumps bail is a flagrant abuse of the fundamental human rights of the surety.
The court, presided over by Justice Sylvanus Oriji, was of the view that the only legal implication for the surety is to show cause, or forfeit the bail bond. “Arresting and detaining such a surety amounts to a flagrant violation of the rights of that individual”.
The court therefore awarded a damages of N12 million against the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission(EFCC) in favour of the Chairman, Nigerian Bar Association Section on Public Interest and Development Law (NBA-SPIDEL), Dr Monday Ubani, and also declared his 24 days detention by EFCC for standing surety for a lady, Dr Ngozi Olojeme, as illegal.
Dr Ubani and Senator Senator Christopher Enai were arrested and detained in the custody of EFCC on March 19, 2019 for failing to produce the erstwhile Chairman of the Nigeria Social Insurance Trust Fund (NSITF), Dr. Ngozi Olejeme, whom both stood for as sureties in a N6.4 billion fraud allegation suit. He spent 24 days in detention and was subsequently released on April 11, 2019.
Dr Ubani’s arrest raised a lot of dust with the NBA, Civil Society Organizations, and senior lawyers calling for his release. He thereafter approached the court and sought an order of the court to declare his detention as illegal. He further sought the payment of N5 billion damages for his detention from the anti graft agency.
In his judgment, Justice Oriji declared Ubani’s detention illegal. He awarded N12 million damages in his favour instead of the sum of N 5 billion in his prayers. The court also rejected his prayer for public apology.
The Wednesday’s decision of the FCT High Court further confirms the already-established law that a surety has not committed any crime when the person he stood surety jumps bail.
Ubani in a statement expressed appreciation to Chief Mike Ozekhome SAN, Femi Falana SAN, his wife Lady Faurstina, children, and legal team for their commitment to the victory.