In clear contravention of Section 7 of the Administration of Criminal Justice Act 2015 which prohibits arresting anyone in the place of another, the Uyo zonal office of Economic and Financial Crimes Commission has allegedly detained one Mrs Urua after failing to arrest her son.
Counsel to Mrs Urua, Inibehe Effiong, disclosed this in a statement on Wednesday.
According to Effiong, the EFCC has "invited, re-invited, arrested, re-arrested, detained and threatened his client multiple times since 2018."
The lawyer demanded an immediate and unconditional release of the woman.
He alleged that the anti-graft agency had been engaging in a fishing expedition in their desperation to invent non-existent evidence to nail her to satisfy the cravings of the petitioner, Mrs. Eno Emmanuel Effiong, a younger sister to Mrs. Urua.
Effiong said, "The woman's family informed me that Mrs. Urua had been in the custody of the EFCC since November 6, 2020, following the refusal of the Uyo zonal head of the EFCC, CDCS Akpa Uchenna Edeh, to release her on administrative bail.
"I went with the husband and children of Mrs. Urua to the EFCC office to secure her release. I spent over six hours at the commission's office before the woman was released on administrative bail.
"The EFCC zonal office in Uyo claims that their office is 'investigating a purported case of forgery', following a complaint lodged by one Mrs. Eno Emmanuel Effiong, who is a younger sister of Mrs. Urua.
"According to the EFCC, the complainant alleged that my client and her late father's lawyer might have forged the signature of their deceased father to sell a property to a businessman in Uyo, Elder Ubong Obot, popularly known as Ubotex.
"The property in question was sold by the owner before he passed on. The deceased also wrote a will and shared his properties according to conscience."
"Aggrieved by the decisions taken by her deceased father, the petitioner – Eno Emmanuel Effiong, approached the court to challenge the decisions taken by her late father, whom she had a strained relationship with during the deceased lifetime.
"Soon after her father died, the petitioner who barely related with the deceased while he was alive decided to fight her sole surviving sibling for the control and management of the estate of their dead father.
"She has alleged that her father was not capable of entering into a contractual relationship and that her sister took advantage of the deceased. EFCC has been dancing on the grave of the deceased by parroting this unproven allegation."
Speaking further, Effiong described the action of the EFCC as another example of how the commission has been corruptly used as a tool for witch-hunting people.
He added, "An agency that was established to fight corruption should avoid corruption. The corrupt cannot fight corruption. If the EFCC in Uyo is confident about the so-called case of forgery that they pretend to be investigating, why have they not filed criminal charges for the past two years? Why are they acting as if they are surrogates of the petitioner, who instead of proving her pending case in court, is using EFCC to persecute her elder sister?
"The allegation of forgery is spurious, frivolous and malicious. It is neither backed by credible evidence nor substantiated by verifiable facts. The so-called investigation is animated by a ludicrous fabrication. EFCC was not set-up to settle personal scores or family disputes.
"Rather than take a decent path, the EFCC in Uyo has persisted in their illegality and impunity because they believe that Nigeria is a jungle where the rule of law is useless. It is scandalous that an agency that was set-up to fight corruption has deployed a corrupt modus operandi, in this case, to intimidate a poor woman most irresponsibly."
The lawyer called on the acting chairman of the EFCC to urgently get Uchenna Edeh to stop him from further exposing the commission and Nigeria to embarrassment.
"For every additional second that Mrs Urua spends in unlawful custody, the credibility of the EFCC will continue to evaporate," he added.