The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) claimed recently that the reason it released Ja’afaru Isa, an associate of President Muhammadu Buhari, just 24 hours after his arrest, whereas spokesman of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Olisa Metuh, is still being held, is because Isa refunded N100 million and has promised to refund another N70 million, whereas Metuh remains unmoved about the call for him to make refunds.
The PDP Caucus in the House of Representatives has however challenged the EFCC’s rights to instruct anyone to refund money, saying that the power resides only in the law courts. “If he was asked to use those money for specific assignment, if he has said he has used the money and it is not there, it is now for him to defend his action in a competent court of law. It is not a treasonable felony, he is entitled to bail,” said Hon. Leo Ogor, the minority leader of the House of Representatives at a press briefing.
Ogor condemned the continued detention of Metuh and he warned that if the PDP spokesman is not released in 48 hours on administrative bail or charged to court, the PDP caucus would embark on steps to draw the attention of the international community to what it termed, ongoing human rights abuses by detentions beyond lawfully stipulated periods, dictatorial tendencies, attempts to stifle the opposition and endangering democracy by the EFCC and the current administration.
“It is a competent court of jurisdiction that can pronounce anyone guilty in this country. The action of the EFCC today amounts to pronouncing him guilty before he even starts trial. We support the administration of President Buhari, but any action of witch hunt against our members will not be tolerated,” Ogor said.
He said that Isa was given administrative bail after the Chairman of the EFCC visited Aso Rock. “That gives room for some level of preferential treatment or some level of political witch hunt. In a scenario or situation where we must all be equal before the law, it cannot be different strokes for different folks,” he said.
“In every democracy, there is room for opposition. Where our main voice who speaks for our party is arrested and kept in an underground cell is totally undemocratic. No room for authoritarian rule. The EFCC cannot be the prosecutor and the judge in this case,” Ogor added.