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Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) has asked the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) to “immediately and unconditionally release blogger Abubakar Usman who is detained simply for exercising his constitutional and internationally recognised right to freedom of expression.”

Mr Usman was arrested for alleged cyberstalking of the EFCC Chairman Mr. Ibrahim Magu.

But in a statement today by SERAP executive director Adetokunbo Mumuni the organisation said “This action by the EFCC is unequivocally contrary to both section 39 of the 1999 Constitution of Nigeria (as amended) and article 19 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights to which Nigeria is a state party. The EFCC must now immediately and unconditionally release Mr Usman and drop all charges against him.”

The statement reads in part: “Nigeria’s constitution guarantees freedom of expression. Under international law, everyone has the right to freedom of expression, including freedom to seek, receive, and impart information and ideas of all kinds, regardless of frontiers, either orally, in writing or in print, in the form of art, or through any other media of his choice. SERAP believes that no one should be arrested simply for criticising public institution or public figures.”

“The EFCC and indeed all public institutions should proactively encourage freedom of expression to enhance their ability to fight corruption but also to maintain the sanctity of the constitution and Nigeria’s international obligations and commitments. There are many whistle-blowers out there that can be of immense support to anticorruption agencies and contribute to the effective discharge of their statutory mandates to prevent and combat corruption.”

“Nigerians should be allowed to talk freely without threats of arrest or harm.”

“SERAP will be taking legal action to challenge the constitutionality of the ludicrous Cyber Crime Act which is now being regularly used to undermine the effective enjoyment of the right to freedom of expression in Nigeria.”

“In 2011, the United Nations Human Rights Committee issued guidance to states parties including Nigeria on their free speech obligations under article 19 that emphasized the high value that the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights places upon uninhibited expression in circumstances of public debate concerning public figures in the political domain and public institutions.”

the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission has said it will appeal the ruling of a Federal Capital Territory High Court, which, on Thursday, granted bail to Mr. Abiodun Agbele, believed to be a close ally of the Ekiti State Governor, Mr. Ayodele Fayose.

Earlier on Wednesday, the EFCC quizzed a former aide to an ex-Minister of State for Defence, Senator Musiliu Obanikoro.

Agbele was arrested last month by the EFCC based on the allegations that he received N1.219bn from Obanikoro on behalf of Fayose during the build-up to the June, 2014 Ekiti State governorship election.

Justice Olukayode Adeniyi, in a ruling, which the commission described as “shocking”, offered bail to Agbele and ordered the EFCC to pay the suspect N5m as compensation for unlawful detention.

The judge said the failure of the EFCC to charge Agbele to court since his arrest amounted to an abuse of his fundamental rights.

But the EFCC in a statement by its spokesman, Mr. Wilson Uwujaren, described Justice Adeniyi’s conclusion as “curious” against the background of the information presented to the court, which included the fact that the suspect was being held with valid remand warrants issued by competent courts.

Meanwhile, the anti-graft agency on Wednesday grilled a former aide to Obanikoro as part of investigations into the N4.7bn the former minister allegedly received from the Office of the National Security Adviser under the leadership of the embattled former NSA, Col. Sambo Dasuki (retd.).

Obanikoro was alleged to have received the N4.7bn through the Diamond Bank account of Sylvan McNamara, a company allegedly owned by his two sons – Babajide and Gbolahan.

A source at the anti-graft agency said after Obanikoro allegedly handed over N1.219bn to Fayose and N1.3bn to Omisore, he directed that about N759,384,300 be transferred into the accounts of about six bureau de change operators.

The two bureau de change operators that received the bulk of the funds were A. A. G. B. S. Oil and Gas and North Line Limited.

While A. A. G. B. S. received N168m on June 16, 2014, North Line Limited received N835, 000 on July 14; received N83,750,000 on June 17; N1,680,000 on September 3, 2014; about N2,325,300 on September 9; N5,932,500 on September 17 and N842,500 on July 30.

The source in the EFCC added, “We interrogated one of the aides to Obanikoro. He was also the one who arranged for payments of $25,200 to Gyro Air, which flew Obanikoro along with the N1.219bn to Akure, after which the N1.219bn was handed over to Agbele.

“This same aide visited a bureau de change operator and collected over $1m on behalf of Obanikoro and handed it over to the minister in some bags. The aide cooperated with us, wrote his statement and has been granted bail.”

In a related development, Still Earth Limited, which reportedly sold four duplexes in Lagos State to Fayose, has denied allegations that it helped the governor to launder stolen money.

The company said it had constructed over 45 kilometres of road in the country and handled several building projects.

It explained that De-Privateer Limited, a company owned by Agbele, approached Still Earth Limited and bought four chalets from the firm via payment to her corporate accounts with First Bank of Nigeria (1000070240) and Zenith Bank (1014016919) accordingly.

The firm said it never collected cash from Fayose or Agbele, adding that it even rejected a N5bn contract from the Ekiti State Government in lieu of the agency fees on the four duplexes in Lagos.

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