Civil Rights Realisation and Advancement Network (CRRAN) has said the telecom operators, MTN, should be held responsible for “unlawful arrest and detention” of Ifeoma Igbogbahaka by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) over an alleged visa fraud.
In a statement made available to National Wire on Wednesday, signed by CRRAN President, Olu Omotayo Esq., the organisation argued that the anti graft body “cannot arrest a goat when they are looking for a hyena,” saying the EFCC picked up a lady when the actual perpetrator of the alleged infraction was a male.
According to the statement, the U.S. Embassy in Nigeria had petitioned the EFCC that Igbogbahaka’s phone number was being used by one William Uchemba to defraud citizens on the pretext of getting United States visa for them.
Igbogbahaka who lives in Enugu and works as an Engineer at the Enugu Electricity Distribution Company (EEDC) was subsequently arrested on February 4, 2019, by officials of United Bank for Africa (UBA), Station Road Branch, Enugu, where she had gone to withdraw her salary.
She was “unlawfully detained” at the banking hall and transferred to the banks’ security office where she was detained for over three hours before she was finally handed over to officials of Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).
“We submit that no agency in the United States would arrest any United States citizen without proper investigation if such complaint had emanated from the Nigerian government,” noted the statement.
Please read the full statement below:
HUMAN RIGHTS UPDATE:
RE: ARREST AND DETENTION OF MRS. IFEOMA IGBOGBAHAKA BY ECONOMIC AND FINANCIAL CRIMES COMMISSION ACTING OVER THE PETITION OF THE UNITED STATES EMBASSY OVER THE LINKING OF MOBILE PHONE NUMBER 08036760503 BELONGING TO HER TO A FRAUDSTAR PHONE LINE.
WHY MTN NIGERIA IS LIABLE AND SHOULD BE HELD RESPONSIBLE.
We have taking various steps over in respect of the above-mentioned matter to ensure Mrs. Ifeoma Igbogbahaka got justice in respect of this matter. We have written to MTN Nigeria and we got their response that Mrs. Igbogbahaka actually registered her phone number and has been using the phone line since 2003.
We also wrote a letter on 25th March 2019, to the Chairman Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), about the unlawful arrest and detention and seeking among other things public apology and immediate unfreezing of the salary account of Mrs. Igbogbahaka at the United Bank for Africa (UBA). The said letter was also copied to the United States Ambassador to Nigeria.
These facts are evident in this case:
- The EFCC investigators who arrested Mrs. Igbogbahaka informed her that they were acting on a petition from the United States Embassy that her phone number was being used by one William Uchemba to defraud citizens on the pretext of getting United States visa for them.
- This is a weighty allegation by the United States Embassy which must have been based on intelligence reports.
- The EFCC approached the MTN Nigeria and they gave particulars of Mrs. Igbogbahaka and she was arrested.
- Igbogbahaka was arrested when she went to the United Bank for Africa Station Road, Enugu to collect her salary from her bank account.
- The officials of the United Bank for Africa (UBA) who detained Mrs. Igbogbahaka within the bank premises for over 4 hours before handing her over to EFCC were not only lawless but also reckless.
- The fact that the petition emanated from the United States Embassy does not mean that the EFCC should not do thorough investigation before arrest and detention, as we believed that the officials did not act professionally, if not how would they explain arresting a female when the culprit is a male. They cannot arrest a goat when they are looking for a hyena.
- We submit that no agency in the United States would arrest any United States citizen without proper investigation if such complaint had emanated from the Nigerian government.
- MTN Nigeria response to us that Mrs. Igbogbahaka is the rightful owner of the phone line does not in any way tackle the issue raised via intelligence report that the same line is being used by the said notorious fraudster.
- We submit without equivocation that the intelligence report that the same phone line in question was being used by the said fraudster cannot be lightly waived away by MTN Nigeria as the company owes this subscriber a duty to protect her line from the interference.
- We believe that there is an infraction on the rights of Mrs. Igbogbahaka and somebody must be held responsible.
- We have therefore given the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) to within 7days addressed issue raised in our letter to the commission failure of which shall take further legal steps.
- We submit that no innocent citizen of this country should be subjected to torture, unlawful arrest and detention based on the negligence or recklessness of any service provider.
It would be recalled that Mrs. Ifeoma Igbogbahaka of No. 2, Amichi Crescent, Independence Layout, Enugu, who works as an Engineer at the Enugu Electricity Distribution Company (EEDC), was arrested on the 4th day of February 2019, by officials of United Bank for Africa (UBA) Station Road Branch Enugu, where she had gone to withdraw her salary and was unlawfully detained at the banking hall and subsequently transferred to the banks’ security office where she was detained for over three hours before she was finally handed over to officials of Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).
Mrs. Igbogbahaka whose job at her working place is presently threatened by this unlawful arrest has reported herself to the Cybercrime Department of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission Abuja, and nothing incriminating has been found against her neither was any fraudulent transactions found in relation to her bank account. It should be noted that up till date her salary account with the United Bank for Africa (UBA) still remains frozen thereby crippling her finances and causing untold hardship on the family of this innocent woman.
For: Civil Rights Realisation and Advancement Network (CRRAN)
Olu Omotayo Esq.