The arrest and detention of Suleiman Toyin, a member of the bar, has caused tension between the Ilorin Zonal Command of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, and the Nigerian Bar Association, NBA, in Kwara State.
Suleiman, who was later freed, was accused of tampering with a witness’s statement who was the subject of an anti-graft agency probe.
The Ilorin branch of the NBA demanded the immediate transfer of the Zonal Commander, Micheal Nzekwe, for allegedly violating the human rights of Barrister Suleiman in a press statement released on Thursday by the Acting Chairman, Aishat Omotayo Temim, and the Publicity Secretary, Ridwan Musa.
The body also requested that Chikkol, the agency’s acting chairman, launch a probe into the EFCC’s zonal command office in order to separate the wheat from the chaff.
The organization ordered all NBA members in Ilorin to refrain from doing business with the anti-graft agency’s Ilorin zonal command office until the commander was moved out of Kwara State.
Additionally, it issued a warning to everyone working with EFCC officials to subdue the law, urging them to stop their evil deeds before the law’s nemesis catches up with them.
The EFCC’s head of media and publicity, Wilson Uwujaren, responded with a statement headlined “Why NBA is Against EFCC in Ilorin,” describing the Ilorin NBA’s outburst as an attempt to coerce and frighten the commission’s Ilorin zonal office into unconscionable docility.
In a press release, Aishat Omotayo Temim and Ridwan Musa, the acting chair and publicity secretary of the Nigerian Bar Association’s Ilorin branch, respectively, called attention to what they called the Ilorin Zonal Command of the EFCC’s “non-adherence to Rule of Law” and demanded the transfer of the Zonal Commander. The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, or EFCC, issued the statement.
Without limiting the right of bar members or, for that matter, any Nigerian, to air a grievance, the Commission is outraged that the NBA Ilorin Branch chose to attack the Ilorin Command and its leaders in the media while one of its members, Suleiman Toyin Yahaya, was being detained by the Ilorin Command for allegedly tampering with a suspect’s statement.
“This practically reeks of blackmail and a covert attempt to coerce the Commission’s Ilorin Command into unjustifiable docility.
“It is shocking that the Ilorin Branch of the NBA was silent on the alleged criminal act of its member who was being detained with a valid remand order and has since been released in obedience to a counter order of court,” the statement continued. This branch of the NBA prides itself on being an apologist for the rule of law and ethical conduct.
It said, “It is also concerning that the NBA finds it easier to place the blame for the alleged improper conduct of its members in situations involving legal counsel for crime suspects on staff of the EFCC. Suspects’ legal representation is outside of the EFCC’s purview.
“While the Commission is willing to look into any claim of improper behavior by any of its employees, those making such claims must present evidence,” the Commission stated.
The commission highlighted that the EFCC, as a legal entity, operates within the bounds of the law and has not yet broken any laws while conducting business in Ilorin.