The Legal Defence and Assistance Project (LEDAP) has berated the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) over alleged attack by its operatives on the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) Makurdi Branch, Chairman, Mr. Justin Gbagir.

In a statement made available to CITY LAWYER and signed by LEDAP National Coordinator, Mr. Chino Obiagwu (SAN), the group stated that the action of the operatives violates the fundamental rights of the Bar Leader as entrenched in Section 34 of the 1999 Constitution.

The group noted that from a series of events which occurred on June 8, 2021, it was apparent that Gbagir went to the EFCC Makurdi Branch Office to facilitate bail for Miss Aver Shima, a lawyer with the Benue Sate Ministry of Justice.

Said LEDAP: “From our understanding, Ms. Shima was remanded following an allegation of a legal advice she gave the Chairman of the Universal Basic Education Board and as such is currently undergoing investigation.

“Following this incident, Mr. Gbagir, in the company of other members of the Ministry of Justice visited the EFCC office in Makurdi, but was refused entry into the premises and subjected to humiliation and degrading treatment by the security operatives at the gate; on the allegation that they are ‘agitators’ who have come to protest.

“It took the intervention of the Senior Special Adviser to the Governor, Attorney General of the state and Solicitor General of the state before the delegation was allowed entry into the building.

“Also, we understand that when Mr. Gbagir was introduced to the EFCC Chairman, as the Chairman of the NBA Makurdi branch, he was denied all courtesy. This infuriated Mr. Gbagir and as a result, sought to leave the premises. However, he was swarmed and assaulted by operatives of EFCC, the actions of which were approved by the silent conduct of the EFCC Chairman.”

LEDAP stated that the action of the EFCC operatives not only undermined the position of the NBA chairman, but also of all lawyers. It viewed the action as a mockery of lawyers’ constitutional role as members of the third arm of government.

LEDAP pointed out that the EFCC security operatives were ALSO in breach of Section 34 of the 1999 Constitution on the right to dignity and right to freedom from torture, inhuman or degrading treatment.

LEDAP urged the EFCC to publish an apology to the victim, and demanded that the Attorney General & Minister of Justice, Mr. Abubakar Malami (SAN) should prosecute the errant officers, adding: “Henceforth, the EFCC is demanded to treat all lawyers with respect in all legal dealings with them.”

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