By OKECHUKWU PEACE
For his prolonged and unlawful detention by the agency, National Drug Law Enforcement Agency to pay a sum of N2m to one Lawrence Ejiofor as compensation, a Federal High Court has said.
To bear the judgment debt alongside the NDLEA is the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission which the court also found culpable of having a hand in the violation of Ejiofor’s fundamental human rights.
The applicant, through his lawyer, Dr. Chima Nnaji, had approached Justice Mohammed Yunusa, seeking a declaration that his detention by the two agencies for over 30 days without trial was unlawful.
He also prayed the court to order the NDLEA to return to him a sum of $96,500 confiscated from him at the airport while returning from a trip to Tanzania.
Nnaji had told the court that his client was arrested by operatives of the NDLEA for money laundering on April 16, 2015, on the suspicion that the money found on him was a proceed of drug-trafficking.
According to Nnaji, Ejiofor was not allowed to declare the foreign currency at the Nigerian Customs Service Declaration Point, as required by law.
Instead, NDLEA officials arrested the applicant for money laundering, saying they suspected the money to be proceed of drug business.
After detaining him for over 30 days, they handed him over to the EFCC for further investigation.
When the commission found that Ejiofor was not involved in money laundering, it discharged Ejiofor but still held onto the money.
His lawyer sought a declaration that searching the applicant at the arrival tube before being able to declare the foreign currency on him was illegal as it violated his right to freedom from compulsory acquisition of moveable property, as guaranteed under Section 44 of the 1999 Constitution.
NDLEA had argued that the applicant’s arrest was lawful “given the suspicious manner he conducted himself on arrival at the airport from Tanzania.”