The National Publicity Secretary of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Chief Olisa Metuh, on Monday filed an application before a Federal High Court in Lagos, seeking his immediate release from the custody of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).
Metuh had since January 5, 2016 been taken into custody by the EFCC for questioning on his alleged involvement in the $2.1bn arms deal.
The EFCC believed that Metuh received N400m of the allegedly diverted arms funds, but the PDP spokesperson had reportedly claimed that the sum was for an undisclosed service he rendered to former President Goodluck Jonathan.
In the suit he filed through his lawyer, Ebun-Olu Adegboruwa, Metuh claimed that his arrest was part of the plan of the All Progressives Congress (APC) to silence the opposition and make Nigeria a one-party country.
According to Adegboruwa, President Muhammadu Buhari had since his swearing-in May last year, launched “a massive attack upon the opposition Peoples Democratic Party, in the guise of fighting a nebulous anti-corruption war.”
Metuh therefore sought a declaration that his detention by the EFCC without access to his family and lawyer, and without being charged to court, amounted to a violation of his fundamental rights guaranteed under sections 33, 34, 35, 38, 40, 41, 42, 43 and 44 of the Constitution.
Adegboruwa who argued that Metuh’s detention breached the African Charter on Human and Peoples Rights (Ratification and Enforcement) Act, Laws of the Federation of Nigeria, 2004, expressed fear that Metuh was being kept under untidy or unhygienic conditions, which might take a toll on its health, as the EFCC was not adequately funded.
He said, “I verily believe that the applicant has not committed any offence other than his principled opposition to the ruling government and his arrest and detention are meant to silence the opposition and create a one-party state by the respondents to allow the APC to dominate Nigeria.
“Nobody knows the present whereabouts of the applicant, as to his exact place of detention, his condition in the custody and how he is faring. Recently, detainees in the custody of the 1st respondent have been dying due to lack of proper care and adequate medical facilities, as the 1st respondent is not normally well-funded to function effectively, except to be used by the ruling government to hound the opposition.”
He urged the court to order the EFCC and the Attorney General of the Federation, Abubakar Malami (SAN), sued as the 2nd defendant, to immediately release Metuh.
The suit has not been assigned to any judge and a hearing date is yet to be fixed.