The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, has admitted that it “visited” a property in Kano, the home of the Presiding Justice of the Court of Appeal, Kano Division, Justice Ita Mbaba.
A press release signed by the Head, Media and Publicity of the commission, Wilson Uwujaren however denied that the honourable justice was under investigation.
The EFCC says that “While it is true that commission visited the property located on Sheik Yusuf Adam Game street, off Race Cross Road, Nassarawa Government Reservation Area, Kano, the commission was there in respect of a subsisting matter involving the owner of the property and there is no truth, linkage or nexus with any investigation of the Honourable Justice of the Court of Appeal as available facts showed that Hon. Justice Mbaba is not the owner of the property.”
The Commission restated that it holds the Judiciary in optimum respect and will do nothing to embarrass any officer of the court.
In the early hours of Wednesday morning, the General Secretary of the Nigerian Bar Association, Mr. Adesina Adegbite tweeted via his Twitter handle, “Armed operatives who claimed to be from EFCC invaded the premises of the Presiding Justice of the Court of Appeal, Kano Division in the early hours of this morning. When will this madness stop? We will surely not let this slide. #impunitymustend.”
In a subsequent telephone conversation, Mr Adegbite confirmed to Channels TV’s judiciary correspondent, Shola Soyele that the EFCC officials arrived at the house as early as 5.30 am Wednesday morning.
He added that while the operatives were able to access the jurist’s compound, they were unable to gain entrance into the main building. Though he said that the early morning “invasion” may have been a case of mistaken identity, he wondered why the agency did not handle the operation better.
Mr Adegbite’s tweet immediately attracted reactions from members of the legal community who expressed worry at the incident, especially against the background of widespread outrage that had greeted the invasion of homes and subsequent arrest of some Supreme Court justices by the anti-graft agency in the recent past.
Though the EFCC was silent about the core of the investigations of the property and its ownership, Channels Television’s judiciary correspondent, Shola Soyele gathered that the agency believes that the property was acquired with proceeds of crime.
The Court of Appeal is said to be renting the property for the presiding judge of the Kano division and a source at the commission confirmed that the intention of the EFCC’s “visit” was for locating and confirming the existence of the property and its current status.
As of the time of writing this report, the President of the NBA, Yakubu Maikyau is said to be conducting investigations to find out what really happened after which the association will issue a press statement on the incident.