A reprieve of sort has come for embattled Senator Buruji Kashamu representing Ogun East Senatorial District as the Federal High Court in Lagos Thursday barred five commercial banks from instigating his arrest by security agencies over an alleged debt.
Justice Chukwujekwu Aneke made an order of perpetual injunction restraining the banks and their officers from instigating the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFFC) to arrest, interrogate or detain Kashamu.
It is with regards to “an innocuous and unblemished civil contractual transaction” between Kashamu and the banks.
The judge declared that the EFCC and the police were not empowered to act as debt collectors. Kashumu had sued along with his companies: Kasmal Properties Limited, Hotel De Island Limited, Nacoil International Limited, Hotel De Island Bureau De Change Limited, Island Auto International Limited, Daily Capital Microfinance Limited and Kasmal Group of Companies.
They claimed the banks were being used by his political opponents to send the EFCC after him over loans he obtained.
“The applicants’ relationships with the third to seventh respondents (banks) are purely banker/customer relationships with valuable security collaterising all loans taken from the banks and therefore devoid of criminality as to justify reference to law enforcement agents.
“The first and second respondents (EFCC and IGP) are agencies of government charged with the responsibility of combating economic and financial crimes respectively in Nigeria.
“In the course of their relationships with the third to seventh respondents (banks), the plaintiffs have not committed any economic, financial or general crime as to warrant being reported to and or interrogated and detained by the first and second respondents.
“I believe that the indebtedness of a customer to his bank is not a crime under the laws of the Federal Republic of Nigeria,” Kashamu said in a supporting affidavit.
He urged the court to declare that the respondents had violated his fundamental rights to liberty and to own property under sections 35 and 44 of the 1999 Constitution for harassing, intimidating, arresting and threatening him with detention.