Court Dismisses Globacom’s N50m Rights Enforcement Suit Against EFCC
Justice A. O. Animahun of the Lagos State High Court in Igbosere on Monday dismissed a N50 million fundamental rights enforcement suit filed by a telecommunication company, Globacom Limited, against the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).
The telecommunication company had slammed a N50 million suit on the EFCC for allegedly threatening to arrest and detain its Head of Marketing Department, Mr. Ashok Israni, over a petition by the Dubai-based firm, Emitac Mobile Solutions, LLNP.
Other respondents in the suit are: a foreign firm, Emitac Mobile Solutions, LLNP, based in Dubai, and an operative of EFC, Kadiri Thomas, who are second and third respondents respectively.
In his judgment, Justice Animahun dismissed the suit for lacking in merit and also ordered the telecommunication outfit and Israni to pay the sum of N150,000 as costs in favour of EFCC and others.
The judge held, “There is a reasonable suspicion that an offence of obtaining by false pretence has been committed. A reasonable suspicion that an offence has been committed is a justification to infringe the right guarantee under Chapter IV of the constitution.
“Consequently, I hold that Originating Notice of Motion, dated July 19, fails and is hereby dismissed with N150, 000 costs in favour of each set of the respondents,” the court held.
The foreign firm had in the petition, accused Globacom of refusing to pay the sum of $6, 685, 312. 88 being the balance of the service it rendered to the telecommunication outfit.
But while moving the application, the counsel to Globacom, Ode Uye, insisted that there was nothing criminal in the transaction for the EFCC to investigate.
Uye submitted that disagreement over the alleged debt arose owing to a dispute between his client and the foreign firm with respect to service delivery.
In his opposition to the suit, EFCC’s lawyer, Godwin Ochia stated that the anti-graft agency got involved in the case because there was a reasonable suspicion that a crime had been committed.
While urging the judge to dismiss the suit, Ochia maintained that no competent affidavit has been placed before the court to confer jurisdiction on it.
According to the lawyer, it is improper for a legal officer at Globacom’s office to depose to the affidavit in support of the suit because it amounts to an infringement on the provisions of Order 2 Rule 4 of the Fundamental Rights Enforcement Procedure Rules.
He further argued that the proper person to depose to the affidavit is the Head of Marketing Department, Mr. Ashok Israni, whose rights were allegedly violated.
Lawyer to the foreign firm, George Chiekwe, also urged the court not to entertain the suit because his client has been unduly defrauded by Globacom.
The foreign firm also averred that Globacom Limited made it to render service under false pretence.
In its counter-affidavit, the EFCC said it was only acting on a petition written against the telecommunication company over alleged fraud.
The anti-graft agency further averred that the suit is an attempt by Globacom Limited to forestall further investigation into the criminal aspect of the petition and that no one is instigating it to perform its statutory obligations.
Globacom Limited is specifically seeking an order of injunction restraining EFCC and the third respondent whether by themselves, their agents, associates, nominees, servants or any other person whosoever described and called from arresting, harassing detaining inviting for question or any other manner seeking to curtail and interfering with its right to personal liberty, private life and freedom of movement in connection with an unwarranted attempt by the second respondent to criminalize a purely civil contractual transaction.
In the 28-paragraph affidavit filed in support of the suit and deposed to by a legal officer in the office of Globacom Limited, Olumide Taye Babafemi, it was averred that the issue between his company and the foreign firm are purely contractual arising out of a framework agreement which clearly provided for modalities for resolving issues therein.
But the foreign firm in its counter affidavit, averred that the failure of Globacom Limited to pay the sum of USD 6, 685, 312. 88, being the balance of the service rendered to the telecommunications company for the provision of BlackBerry Solutions (BIS), a wireless solution that was supposed to allow Glo mobile users to access communications and information wirelessly has caused windup of its operations in Nigeria and also resulted to the laying off of 95 percent of its staff.
The foreign firm averred that Globacom Limited made Emitac Mobile Solutions to render service under false pretence.
EFCC and its operative, Thomas, in their counter affidavit to the suit, alleged that the commission was only acting on a petition written against the telecommunications company over alleged fraud.
The commission averred that the suit was an attempt by the Globacom Limited to forestall further investigation into criminal aspect of the petition, EFCC further averred that nobody is instigating the commission to perform its statutory obligations.
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