Irked Over Solidarity Visits: EFCC Chairman Bans Visits, Phone Calls For Detainees

Irked Over Solidarity Visits: EFCC Chairman Bans Visits, Phone Calls For Detainees

By Doyin Ajayi | Sub-Editor on November 5, 2016
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Zenith Bank Fayose Ikoyi DSS governor Ibrahim Magu EFCC Diezani Alison-Maduekwe
Ibrahim Magu, Chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission

Apparently irked by the growing solidarity for the political detainees of the anti-graft agency which he heads, Ibrahim Magu, has issued an order banning detainees of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, from receiving visitors or making phone calls, a reliable insider source tells The Trent.

According to a source, the decision of “management” was communicated to the staff of the detention facility of the EFCC on the evening of Friday, November 4, 2016 soon after the release of two of the four high profile political detainees, Musiliu Obanikoro and Reuben Abati, who are being held by the EFCC.

“The circular came from the office of the chairman and the ban affects all detainees of the EFCC and came from the office of the chairman,” the source, who has not been cleared to speak on the matter, told our reporter early Saturday.

“Also, the chairman [Ibrahim Magu], has ordered no suspect be allowed to make phone calls. Not even to their lawyers, family, or loved ones.”

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Our investigations revealed that this order, which constitutes a violation of the human rights of detainees, is in reaction to the recent visits by dignitaries to the EFCC facility mainly to express their solidarity with Chief Femi Fani-Kayode, Senator Bala Mohammed, Dr. Abati, and Senator Obanikoro, three of them are former ministers who served under People’s Democratic Party, PDP-led governments.

Abati, who has been released after 10 days in detention, was the spokesperson for former President Goodluck Jonathan.

Prominent Roman Catholic Bishop, Matthew Kukah visit the detainees on Monday, October 31, 2016 to “encourage them and pray with them”. The EFCC tried to spin his visit as an endorsement of the conditions in the detention centre of the commission in Abuja.

Fani-Kayode’s spokesperson fired back at the EFCC accusing the commission of disingenuity, reiterating that the EFCC is holding the former aviation minister in violation of his fundamental human rights and a court order granting him bail.

But our sources revealed to us that Bishop Kukah told Fani-Kayode, Obanikoro, and Abati that he was visiting “specifically to meet with them and encourage them and pray with them”.

Kukah’s visit was followed by the leadership of the PDP led by the national chairman of the party, Senator Ahmed Makarfi. Another high profile delegation led by former minister of the FCT, Jeremiah Useni paid him a visit on Thursday. Also, a delegation of the Middle Belt Forum paid a solidarity visit to the quartet.

Bishop Matthew Kukah and Ibrahim Magu, the chairman of the EFCC pictured during the cleric's visit to the commission's headquarters in Abuja, on Oct 31, 2016
Bishop Matthew Kukah and Ibrahim Magu, the chairman of the EFCC pictured during the cleric’s visit to the commission’s headquarters in Abuja, on Oct 31, 2016

The deputy senate president, Dr. Ike Ekeremadu is one of the dignitaries who visited him while in detention.

All the four men served under former President Goodluck Jonathan and political activists believe they are being targeted by the Muhammadu Buhari-government because they are members of the opposition party, the People’s Democratic Party, PDP and as a ploy to “get at Dr. Goodluck Jonathan”.

“Magu was shaken by the flood of visits and is worried about the image of the government if the detainees are turned into celebrity political detainees,” another inside source, who pleaded anonymity, explained. “So he decided to issue the order. But the problem is that such an order is anti-democratic and a violation of the constitution. Even convicts are entitled to visits and phone calls. Nobody in the EFCC custody is a convict. They are all suspects and as such they should not be punished. It is cruel and unusual punishment to deny a citizen access to his lawyer and family.”

All the detainees were held in contravention of the Nigerian constitution (two remain in custody) that stipulates that detainees should be charged to court or released from detention within 48 hours. He was not charged to court.

EFCC continues to sponsor stories in APC leaning news platforms supplying innuendo intended to cast the detainees as corrupt without providing actual evidence of the allegations.

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