F. BABA ISA VS ICPC: FCT HIGH COURT VACATES REMAND ORDER

The FCT High Court sitting in Apo today vacated the remand order obtained by ICPC and refused to issue a fresh one on the grounds that ICPC has failed to prove that Isa has been arrested and is in their custody.

F. Baba Isa, a legal practitioner has been having a running battle with the ICPC for obtaining a judgment which the ICPC is not happy with.

He was invited by the ICPC to answer questions based on representations he made on behalf of his client. But the legal practitioner approached the court to challenge what he called the “illegal invitation to breach attorney-client privilege”. According to him, “I would not be emotionally blackmailed into honouring their illegal invitation just to prove that “I have nothing to hide”. That is how illegality gets institutionalised. I would not be a part of that. Lawyers cannot just be invited nor arrested to breach attorney-client privilege just by tagging them “suspects”.”

Strangely, ICPC went to court to obtain a remand order without first arresting or having the lawyer in their custody. Mr Isa challenged this remand order, telling the court that ICPC’s “… entire prayers and affidavit was intended to mislead the Honourable Court that I was in their custody; this is because they know that a remand order can only be granted when a suspect is in custody. The section of ACJA (section 293) they premised their application on clearly stated thus. Section 294 of ACJA made it abundantly clear that the Court has to examine the reason for the arrest before granting a remand order but they misled the court into granting a remand order, while the court, thought by looking at their affidavit it was actually examining a real reason for an arrest… an arrest which never happened.

Section 294 of ACJA made it clear that before a remand order is granted by the court, the court will examine the reason for the arrest and be satisfied that there is reasonable grounds to believe that the suspect has been involved in the commission of the alleged offence. In this case there is absolutely no offence. I simply did my job as a legal practitioner, obtained a valid court judgment for my client, held money in client’s account for my client, carried out client instructions to transfer money and earned my fees. All these are legal.

So, when they said it was just an invitation, it is not true. They planned to detain me for 14 days and compel me to breach attorney-client privilege. They had already procured a remand order before they sent out their purported invitation letter. A remand order gotten before arrest is not just illegal but malicious and vindictive.”

Today, the court vacated the remand order and refused to issue a fresh one on these grounds. ICPC has however vowed to arrest and detain Mr Isa without a court order even though there is a pending case in court challenging their right to invite or arrest him concerning this matter.

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