The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) says it can arrest anyone without a warrant as it appears before the Nigerian Senate over the arrest of Innoson CEO in Enugu.
While speaking at a hearing organized by the Senate committee on anti-corruption, the EFCC Director of Legal and Prosecution, Chilo Okoroma, on Thursday, told the lawmakers that the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, can arrest individuals without a warrant of arrest, adding that the commission is empowered to arrest, ”with or without a warrant.”
The committee was mandated by the whole house to investigate the arrest of the Chairman of Innoson Motors, Innocent Chukwuma, by the EFCC. The committee restricted its probe to the circumstances that surrounded the arrest of Innocent as other matters are currently before the court of law.
In reply to an inquiry by Dino Melaye, a member of the committee, on whether the EFCC had a warrant of arrest before swooping on Innocent, Okoroma said: “We can arrest a person with or without a warrant. And the matter for which we have invited him for, the law did not state that we can’t arrest him without a warrant.”
The lawmaker was, however, not satisfied with the response of the EFCC official and questioned him again: “Did you have a warrant of arrest when you went to Enugu to arrest him on 19th of December? Yes or no?.”
But Okoroma refused to answer the question ‘satisfactorily’, a situation which incurred the anger of the lawmakers who threatened to walk him out for being ‘incompetent to appear before the committee.’
When asked if the EFCC invited Chukwuma before going to his house, Okoroma said yes. But the committee members said he had no proof, and when asked if the operatives went with a warrant, Okoroma said he would get back to the committee.
He thereafter asked for more time to make consultation to enable him give a definite answer to the question. “I won’t be in a position to say whether a warrant of arrest was issued or not but I know the position of law. I will ask for your permission to verify that. I cannot categorically say,” he said.
On his part, Joseph Mbadugha, representative of Chukwuma, argued that the matter between GTB and Innoson had nothing to do with financial crime, adding that Chukwuma was not involved in any illegal transaction.
“If you look at the EFCC act, the subject matter between GT bank and Innoson does not fall under financial crimes and EFCC knows that,” he said.
“Innoson did not approach GTB to obtain wealth illegally. The EFCC operatives that came to arrest him slapped his wife. Of course, she asked them of their warrant of arrest. They also beat up one Chidozie who was living with him. They used tear gas on him for failing to tell them where he was. The EFCC operatives maltreated him as well.”
The committee led by Chukwuka Utazi said the senate would not allow the rights of Nigerians to be trampled. The hearing was adjourned indefinitely.