NBA, EFCC clash over arrest of Ilorin lawyer

A strained relationship has broken out between the Nigerian Bar Association, NBA, Ilorin, Kwara State chapter and the Ilorin Zonal Command of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, over the arrest and detention of a member of the bar, Suleiman Toyin.

Suleiman, who has since been released, was alleged to have tampered with the statement of a suspect under investigation by the anti-graft agency.

The Ilorin branch of the NBA, on Thursday in a press statement by the Acting Chairman, Aishat Omotayo Temim, and Publicity Secretary, Ridwan Musa, called for the immediate transfer of the Zonal Commander, Micheal Nzekwe, for alleged human rights violation of Barrister Suleiman.

The body also called on the Acting Chairman of the agency, Chikkol, to cause an investigation into the zonal command office of the EFCC, with a view to separating the grain from the shaft.

The body directed all members of the NBA, in Ilorin to boycott Ilorin zonal command office of the anti-graft agency for any business until the commander is transferred out of Kwara State.

It also sent a note of warning to all members collaborating with EFCC officials in subduing the law to desist from that unholy act, otherwise the nemesis of the law will catch up with them.

In a reaction, however, titled “Why NBA is Against EFCC in Ilorin” the Head of Media and Publicity, EFCC, Wilson Uwujaren, described the Ilorin NBA’s outburst as an attempt to blackmail and intimidate the Ilorin zonal office of the commission into unconscionable docility.

The statement by the commission reads; “attention of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, is drawn to a press statement jointly signed by Aishat Omotayo Temim and Ridwan Musa, acting Chairperson and Publicity Secretary respectively of the Ilorin Branch of the Nigerian Bar Association, drawing attention to what they termed as non- adherence to Rule of Law by the Ilorin Zonal Command of the EFCC, and calling for the transfer of the Zonal Commander.

“Without prejudice to the right of members of the Bar, and indeed any Nigerian, to ventilate a grievance, the Commission is scandalized that the NBA Ilorin Branch chose a moment when one of its members, Suleiman Toyin Yahaya, was being detained by the Ilorin Command for allegedly tampering with the statement of a suspect under investigation, to launch a media attack against the Command and its leadership.

“This, to all intent and purposes, smacks of blackmail and disguised attempt to intimidate the Ilorin Command of the Commission into unconscionable docility.

“As a branch of the NBA that prides itself as apostle of rule of law and ethical conduct, it is shocking that the Ilorin Branch of the NBA was silent on the alleged criminal act of its member who was being detained with a valid remand order, and has since been released in obedience to a counter order of court,” the statement added.

It further stated that “it is also worrisome that the NBA finds it convenient to shift the blame for the alleged unprofessional conduct of its members in matters of legal representation for crime suspects, to personnel of the EFCC. Legal representation of suspects is not within the remit of the EFCC.

“While the Commission is willing to investigate any allegation of unprofessional conduct by any of its personnel, those making such claims must provide proof.”

The commission, emphasized that the agency as a creation of law, conducts its activities within the ambit of law and no law has been violated so far by the EFCC in its operations in Ilorin.

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