By Wandoo Sombo
The Federal High Court, Abuja, has fixed Dec. 8 to rule on a breach of fundamental human rights suit filed by Patience Jonathan, wife of former President Jonathan.
Jonathan is asking the court to compel the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) to respect her fundamental rights to privacy, dignity and fair hearing, which she says have been serially violated.
The former first lady is also demanding N2 billion from the EFCC as general damages and compensation for the violation of her fundamental rights.
When the matter was called up on Thursday, counsel to Jonathan, Mr Ifedayo Adedipe (SAN), told the court that the EFCC had taken it upon itself to be an aggressive persecutor of his client.
According to Adedipe, the EFCC is expected to charge my client to court and not decide single handedly that the houses or funds acquired by her are proceeds of crime.
“The rights conferred on citizens by Chapter 4 of the Constitution are fundamental rights which are distinct from statutory rights, which can be tossed around.
“Fundamental rights are such that no one is permitted to infringe on it, moreover, the constitution is written to protect the citizens from the `good’ intentions of government.
“The government has enormous powers and that is why the constitution is there to protect the citizens from such powers.”
The senior advocate prayed the court to order EFCC to desist from the incessant harassment of his client, and act as the statutory commission empowered by its Act to fight graft.
Responding, counsel to EFCC, Mr F. Abdullah, opposed the application and prayed the court to refuse the reliefs sought by Jonathan on the grounds that they were unmeritorious.
Abdullah referred the court to Section 44 (2) (k) of the Constitution saying that the right of a citizen to own property was not absolute.
The Judge, Justice John Tsoho, adjourned the matter until Dec. 8 to give his ruling.
Some of the other reliefs sought by Jonathan include an order of court declaring that the harassment she has suffered from the EFCC amounts to a gross violation of her rights as enshrined in Section 37 of the 1999 Constitution.
She also wants a declaration that the indiscriminate freezing of her bank accounts and those of her relatives by the EFCC without any invitation or interrogation is a violation of her rights to own property and to fair hearing.