The Federal High Court of Lagos has ordered the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) and the Nigerian Immigration Service (NIS) to pay N15 million to a popular businesswoman, Seinye Lulu-Briggs.
Ayokunle Faji, the judge, issued the order while ruling on a fundamental rights application filed by Ms. Lulu-Briggs.
The applicant is the CEO of Moni Pulo Limited and the wife of the late oil tycoon, Olu Benson Lulu-Briggs.
He listed the Comptroller General of the NIS and the EFCC as defendants in his lawsuit prosecuted on his behalf by a team of lawyers led by Funke Agbor, a Senior Advocate for Nigeria (SAN).
He detailed in his lawsuit marked FHC/L/CS/147/2020 how he suffered rights violations at the hands of government agencies in January 2020.
According to her, it started during her arrival in Lagos from London on January 14, 2020, when she said she was detained for several hours without explanation.
Similarly, on January 29, 2020, Ms. Lulu-Briggs said that she was prevented from traveling at Lagos International Airport.
“She was kept in a solitary room until 2:00 a.m. on January 30, 2020. She was released without her international passport and other travel documents,” the judge said in her sentence, echoing Ms. Lulu’s narrative. -Briggs on his sordid experience at the hands of immigration service officials.
He filed his lawsuit on February 3, 2020 against the Nigerian Immigration Service, its Comptroller General and the EFCC, to assert his rights.
But the defendants justified the seizure of the plaintiff’s passport and her detention.
In its affidavit against the lawsuit, the EFCC argued that Ms. Lulu-Briggs was under investigation and granted her an administrative bond.
He added that the plaintiff skipped bail, an event, he said, that forced her to place her on a watch list and ask the immigration service to seize her travel documents.
In delivering his sentence, a copy of which was seen by PREMIUM TIMES on Thursday, Mr. Faji dismissed the immigration service’s preliminary objection notice and maintained that the applicant’s claim was properly served on the defendants.
The judge also dismissed the EFCC’s preliminary objection.
Mr. Faji maintained that there was no material evidence before the court that Ms. Lulu-Briggs was under investigation for any offence.
He ruled out that, therefore, there was no justification for the treatment inflicted on her.
It held that NIS can only prohibit the movement of any person based on an order from a court of competent jurisdiction or an arrest warrant issued by a judge or magistrate.
It added that the seizure of the applicant’s passport by the anti-corruption and immigration agency was illegal.
“The third defendant’s letter ordering the applicant’s arrest did not constitute an arrest warrant in any shape or form and cannot be a basis for restraining the applicant’s movements.
“The law allows the first and second defendants to prevent a person from leaving Nigeria and not prevent him from entering or delay his entry into the country. The defendants’ acts against the plaintiff in restricting her movements were done without legal justification,” the court held.
The judge added that both the EFCC and the NIS failed to comply with the provisions of the law by inhibiting the applicant’s movements to and from Nigeria.
He said: “The First and Second Defendant’s travel bans on the Applicants through a watch list is a violation of the Applicant’s right to a fair hearing, as she was not allowed to make any representations before she was heard. imposed such a travel ban.
“The fact that the third defendant imposed the performance of an illegal act on the first and second defendants does not give the first and second defendants the cover of illegality.
“The first and second defendants are just as responsible, if not more to blame, than the third defendant.”
The judge awarded “the sum of N15 million in favor of the applicant as exemplary damages, jointly and severally against each of the defendants.”
It ordered each of the defendants to publish an apology to Ms. Lulu-Briggs in two national newspapers.