A group under the auspices of the Concerned Lawyers has raised the alarm over what they described as constant intimidation of the counsel to a former Director General of National Maritime Administration And Safety Agency, NIMASA, Dr. Patrick Akpobolokemi, noting that the agency should be called to order.
It also noted that the trend if not stopped, would gravely undermine the position of the judiciary as the last hope of the common man.
The group further urged the commission to embrace the acceptable rules guiding prosecution of cases at the law court and avoid employing methods alien to the rule of law.
A statement by its spokesperson, Mr. Hanacho Alogie, maintained that these actions smack of attempts to victimize judges who cannot say anything in their own defence publicly, and the victimization of the judiciary is an affront to justice and equity.
Hence, he described the alleged development as a deliberate attempt to pronounce Akpobolokemi guilty without establishing any element of the crime so alleged.
His words: ’’Since the commencement of this case last year, we have watched with keen interest the peculiar manner with which the EFCC is going about the prosecution of Akpoblokemi. While we are not biased about any attempt at probing any alleged misconduct by public servants, we are deeply concerned about the exceptionality of the modus operandi employed on this matter without recourse to the rule of law and the sanctimonious place of the judiciary.
“As an arm of government, the independence of this sacred institution should not be a subject of debate any day. But we are taken aback by the calculated attempt by the EFCC to harass, intimidate and subdue the lawyers representing Dr. Patrick Akpoblokemi in this case. As a law abiding citizen conversant with his rights as enshrined in the 1999 constitution, Dr. Patrick did not hide his readiness to fully cooperate with the commission, regarding the investigations, but it comes surprising that he is being treated unfairly and his rights violated as well.
“It is imperative that we remind the commission that we are in a democratic dispensation where all institutions of the state work without another usurping its powers nor suppressing its capacity to operate within constitutional limits. The commission’s disregard for the judiciary particularly as relates to Akpobolokemi lawyers testifies to the widely held belief that the EFCC is out to victimize him. The manhandling of the accused on the premises of a Federal High Court in Lagos, in spite of the position of the law, comes a handy example.
“The latest in the series of harassments is the allegation leveled against Mr. Joseph Nwobike, SAN, counsel to Akpobolokemi, by the commission. Is it in the position of the commission to discredit the guardians and custodians of the law?”