NBA MAKURDI ASSAULT: AT LAST, EFCC CHAIR MEETS VICTIM, APOLOGIZES
• DEFLECTS DEMAND TO SACK CULPRITS
• AKPATA TO STORM MAKURDI TO PLOT NEXT STEPS
• GBAGIR SET FOR SURGERY TO SAVE SIGHT
The Chairman of Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), Mr. Abdulrasheed Bawa has finally met with the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA), Makurdi Branch Chairman, Mr. Justin Gbagir who was allegedly assaulted by EFCC operatives.
Gbagir was reportedly manhandled by EFCC operatives and bundled out of their Makurdi office when he went there to represent his client. NBA President, Mr. Olumide Akpata had in a strongly worded letter to the EFCC Chairman dated June 10, 2021 warned that “The NBA will be constantly following up with you in this respect, as we will no longer endure or tolerate the incessant harassment of our members by EFCC operatives while such lawyers are lawfully discharging their duties.”
In his latest update on his travails made available exclusively to CITY LAWYER, Gbagir said that he held a meeting with the EFCC Chairman on July 15, 2021 alongside the Benue State Attorney General, Mr. Michael Gusa.
His words: “At the meeting, the Chairman asked the AG what happened on the 8/6/2021. The AG recounted what happened that day and confirmed that I was assaulted in his presence.
“The Chairman who initially indicated there was no need for me to speak later allowed me to speak and I also recounted the events that led to the assault.
“The Chairman who did not call the Zonal Head of the Makurdi Office or any officer of the Zonal Office to the meeting proceeded to ask me what I wanted to be done.”
The NBA Chairman stated that Abdulrasheed deflected all the demands presented to him, saying that from their investigation, the operatives in Makurdi denied assaulting Gbagir.
On the demand that those found culpable in the assault saga should be dismissed by the commission, Gbagir said this was turned down by the EFCC Chairman who stated “That the Head of the Makurdi Office, Mr Kazeem Oseni and himself were recruited into the Commission the same day. That while he served in the Port Harcourt and Lagos offices of the Commission respectively, the said Kazeem Oseni was directly reporting to him. That we cannot expect him to dismiss Kazeem Oseni who has put in 17 years of service.”
According to Gbagir, the EFCC Chairman said “That he decided to come to Makurdi personally to meet with us in order to ensure cordial human relationship going forward. That his personal visit and apology should suffice.”
Abdulrasheed is yet to speak on what transpired during the meeting.
CITY LAWYER had reported that Abdulrasheed had shunned an earlier scheduled meeting with the victim in Makurdi.
Below is the full text of Gbagir’s update.
UPDATE ON THE ASSAULT ON JUSTIN GBAGIR, ESQ., CHAIRMAN, NIGERIAN BAR ASSOCIATION, MAKURDI BRANCH BY OPERATIVES OF THE EFCC ON THE 8TH JUNE, 2021.
On the 8/6/2021, operatives of the EFCC brutally assaulted me at the Makurdi Zonal Office of the Commission.
Today mark two months since the unfortunate incidence. On the 8/7/2021, I gave an update to mark one month anniversary of the assault. Today’s update is to mark two months anniversary of the assault.
The update shall be segmented into 3 sections, namely:
1. Meeting with the EFCC Chairman
2. The Position of the Bar
3. My Health Condition
MEETING WITH THE EFCC CHAIRMAN
On the 15/7/2021, the Benue State Attorney General, Michael Gusa, Esq and myself met with the EFCC Chairman at the Zonal Office of the Commission in Makurdi.
At the meeting, the Chairman asked the AG what happened on the 8/6/2021. The AG recounted what happened that day and confirmed that I was assaulted in his presence.
The Chairman who initially indicated there was no need for me to speak later allowed me to speak and I also recounted the events that led to the assault.
The Chairman who did not call the Zonal Head of the Makurdi Office or any officer of the Zonal Office to the meeting proceeded to ask me what I wanted to be done.
I told the Chairman that before coming to the meeting, I consulted with the Makurdi Branch legal team and other stakeholders and our demand were that:
1. The Zonal Head of the Commission’s Office in Makurdi be dismissed or voluntarily retired since he did not represent a good image of the Commission, and that all the operatives that took part in the assault should be identified and appropriate punitive measures served.
2. That the Commission shall take full responsibility of my medical bills and pay adequate compensation for the injury caused me especially my eye.
3. That the Commission shall retract their defamatory publication of 9/6/2021 wherein they alleged I was the one that went to their office with hired thugs to forcefully release someone in their custody, among other unsubstantiated allegations, and adequate compensation paid to me and the other lawyers who were referred to as thugs.
In his response, the EFCC Chairman stated as follows:
a) That from their investigation, the operative in Makurdi denied assaulting me.
b) That they have never had a case of EFCC operatives beating anybody in any of their offices.
c) That the Head of the Makurdi Office, Mr Kazeem Oseni and himself were recruited into the Commission the same day. That while he served in the Port Harcourt and Lagos offices of the Commission respectively, the said Kazeem Oseni was directly reporting to him. That we cannot expect him to dismiss Kazeem Oseni who has put in 17 years of service.
d) That my been in the hospital could have been for any other reason and the problem with my eye could also have been caused by any other thing.
e) That the operatives have also written their statement denying my allegations that I was assaulted and even if we decide to go to court, it will be our words against theirs. In any case, he has good working relationship with judges.
f) That there is no evedence (sic) for him to take any punitive measures against Kazeem Oseni and the other operatives.
g) That he could have sat in Abuja and ordered us to go to Abuja, or better still acted on their investigative Report and closed the case that there was no assault on me.
h) That he decided to come to Makurdi personally to meet with us in order to ensure cordial human relationship going forward. That his personal visit and apology should suffice.
i) That he cannot raise any memo to raise funds for any compensation or damages.
j) That he can pay for my further medical attention in an eye clinic in Abuja and on a personal level he can find a token for me.
k) That he could choose to report me to NJC (sic) as the one causing trouble for disciplinary action.
From every indication, the Chairman adopted the position in their press release of 9/6/2021.
After the meeting, I did a brief to the President of NBA, Mr Olumide Akpata.
2. POSITION OF THE BAR
On Monday, 26/7/2021 and Friday, 30/7/2021, I held meetings with the NBA President in Abuja to further briefed him and the President indicated to visit Makurdi Branch with some National Officials of the Bar and together with the elders and members of the Makurdi Branch, they will agree on the next line of action.
The NBA President is currently making travel plans to Makurdi in this regard.
3. MY HEALTH CONDITION
From the last update to today, the condition of my left eye has continued to worsen.
On medical advice, I attended a specialized eye hospital in Abuja on the 27 and 28 July, 2021 and after a thorough and intensive examination for two days, a surgery was recommended as the best curative measure.
It was recommended that the lens of my left eye which is damaged will be replaced with an artificial lens.
The cumulative cost for the surgery, at least 35 days accommodation in Abuja, feeding, transportation and other sundry expenses is approximately put at about N2 Million Naira.
Considering that the condition of the eye is worsening each day that passes by and the need to get the surgery done so as to enable me use my sight for my daily activities, I am hoping that with resources available, I will perform the surgery within the month of August, 2021 so that I will use the period of the court vacation to recuperate.
I appreciate all those who have reached out to me to sympathize with me over this incidence. I count on your continued support to surmount all the challenges facing me during this trying moment.
Thank you all and God Bless.
Justin Gbagir, Esq.
NBA Makurdi Branch
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