Justice Sikiru Oyinloye of a Kwara State High Court in Ilorin on Thursday, 31st March 2022 dismissed a fundamental right suit brought by a convicted fraudster, Oyeyemi Caleb, against the Ilorin Zonal Command of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).
Oyeyemi, 21, an indigene of
Odo-Owa in Oke-Ero Local Government Area of Kwara State was sometime last year prosecuted by the Ilorin Zonal Command of the EFCC before Justice Adenike Akinpelu of the state High Court in Ilorin over offences bordering on internet fraud.
Specifically, he was convicted for posing as a white lady, an online prostitute to scam one Wilson (a white man) to the tune of $100 US Dollars in order to offer him sex.
The court, on 21st June 2021 found him guilty and sentenced him to one-year imprisonment each on the two counts preferred against him, to run concurrently with an option of a fine of N200,000 on each count.
Upon conviction, Oyeyemi, through his counsel, A. T Smith, returned to court with a fundamental rights charge against the EFCC. He claimed that moment after his sentencing by the court; he was forcefully bundled away by operatives of the Commission in a Gestapo manner and driven to the Ilorin zonal command office of the agency, where he alleged that he was unlawfully detained for three hours.
He also claimed that the operatives forcefully put a placard on his chest with the inscription: “Alleged Case of Internet Fraud”, which mug-shot was taken and uploaded on the Commission’s website.
The applicant asked for an order of court awarding N10million damages against the EFCC and cause the Commission to tender a public apology for infringing on his fundamental rights.
The EFCC, in response through its counsel, Aliyu Adebayo, argued that the mug-shot in question was taken on 16th March 2020, and not on 21st June 2021 when the applicant was convicted. He also submitted that putting the picture of the applicant on the Commission’s website after he was convicted did not constitute an abuse of the applicant’s fundamental rights, saying that the Commission acted within the law.
He urged the court to dismiss the application on the ground that the applicant was never arrested nor detained by the Commission as alleged by the applicant.
In dismissing the suit, Justice Oyinloye, while agreeing with the submission of the respondent’s counsel, held that, from exhibit “C” presented by the applicant’s counsel, it was clear that the mug-shot which constituted the crux of the application was dated 16th March 2020, which was the day of the applicant’s arrest and not on the date he was convicted.
The judge observed and frowned at the use of unprintable and foul language by counsel to the applicant, A. T Smith, against the respondent’s counsel, in his affidavit and written address.
On the whole, the judge considered the application as unmeritorious and “gold-digging” in nature, and accordingly dismissed it.