According to report, the Chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, Ibarhim Magu, has ordered an investigation into the alleged harassment, illegal confiscation of property, unlawful detention and extortion of a South Africa-based Pastor, Obinna Ikenna Ezenwanne, and his family by some officials of the anti-graft agency. Our correspondent gathered that Magu had already asked EFCC detectives to look into the involvement of two officials of the agency’s Procurement Fraud Section in its Ikoyi, Lagos office, concerning the alleged ill-treatment and extortion of Pastor Ezenwanne and his brother by some operatives. It was learnt that Magu’s directive that an investigation be launched into the alleged involvement of the two EFCC officials and their friends in the matter followed a petition submitted to the office of the anti-graft agency’s boss in Abuja by a group, Paths of Peace Initiatives, over the alleged maltreatment of the South Africa-based pastor and members of his family in Nigeria over the purchase of a N12 million Land Rover sports utility vehicle from a dealer in Lagos.
A copy of the petition, signed by one John Thompson, and entitled: “Re: Petition against Unlawful Harassment, Detention and Flagrant Abuse of Office by EFCC Officials,” was obrained by our correspondent on Wednesday.
The two-page petition, addressed to the EFCC chairman, reads: “We, the members of Paths of Peace Initiatives, incorporated to defend the rights of the less privileged and campaign for good governance, wish to bring to your notice, for urgent action, the gross abuse of power, intimidation, unlawful harassment, arrest, detention and illegal confistication of Vehicle and other properties belonging to one Mr. Obinna Ikenna Ezenwanne, by the Procurement Fraud Section of EFCC, Ikoyi Lagos office.
“We understand that EFCC officials stormed the Enugu home of Mr. Obinna Ikenna Ezenwanne, a pastor, who is resident in South Africa at an unholy hour with men of the Special Anti Robbery Squad of the Nigeria Police, shouting at random and harassing anybody on sight for hours, before arresting Mr. ThankGod Afamefuna, a brother to Mr Ezenwanne and impounded a black Range Rover (Sports Utility Vehicle), which is still in possession of the EFCC in Lagos. ”Mr. ThankGod, who was severely beaten after his arrest in Onisha, Anambra State, for committing no single offence, was in EFCC custody for several days with excruciating experience. ”Sir, it is important to let you know the facts of the matter. Sometime in August, 2014, Pastor Obinna, who was visiting Nigeria for a pastoral assignment, approached his regular auto dealer, SOJ Autos, with office at No: 39 Marina road, First Badagry bus stop, Liverpool, Apapa, Lagos, for the purchase of a Land Rover Range Rover at the rate of twelve Million Naira, (N12, 000,000.00) and all the necessary receipts and particulars were issued.
“However, when Mr. Soji, the Managing Director of SOJ Autos, brought the Land Rover Jeep to the Lagos Airport for inspection, Pastor Obinna on his arrival discovered that the vehicle had a warning light, which could mean that the vehicle was having some mechanical faults.
“The Pastor immediately expressed his displeasure at the condition of the vehicle, noting that he could not pay N12, 000, 000, 00 for such a vehicle. The land rover was immediately rejected.
“Two months later, Mr. Soji of SOJ Autos called Pastor Obinna that he had another Range Rover SUV Black in colour to replace the one Pastor Obinna rejected.
“The vehicle was inspected and found to be in good condition.
“On December 16, 2014, Mr. Soji arranged for his personal assistant, who was known simply as MC, to assist Pastor Obinna to drive the vehicle to Onisha, where it would be in use after the registration formalities. MC was paid $400 and N30, 000.00 for his services.
“The vehicle, which was registered as JJJ741 DG, has been in use since then anytime pastor Obinna visited Nigeria.
“Sir, it was disheartening and shocking when EFCC operatives with the SARS men invaded Onisha, where the vehicle was kept in the custody of Pastor Obinna’s younger brother, ThankGod, impounded the vehicle and arrested the young man on the excuse that Mr. Soji of SOJ Autos did not remit the purchase money to one Mr. Marcus, who is said to be the person who gave the vehicle to Soji to sell, two years after the vehicle was duly paid for in a legal transaction and the vehicle being in use since then. ”More worrisome is the threat being issued to Pastor Obinna on phone in South Africa by the Procurement Fraud Section of the EFCC team led by one Mrs. Deborah Oni that invaded Onisha. ”It is also important to let you know that the said Mr. Marcus, who suspectedly got Pastor Obinna’s number from the EFCC, has also been calling the pastor from Nigeria, telling him to pay six million naira into his account and that once this is done, he, Marcus, would direct EFCC to release the vehicle. ”In the same vein, one Mr. Ademola Osiyemi, who claimed to be a friend of Mr. Marcus, has been pestering Pastor Obinna on phone, requesting for money to enable him prevail on the EFCC to release the vehicle to Pastor Obinna. ”This blackmail, with EFCC’s cooperation, culminated in the payment of the sum of N80,000.00 into Ademola’s ECO Bank account No: 3151006728 last Friday, September 23,, 2016, after much pressure that he needed the money to pay for his child’s school fees.
“Mr. Chairman, this is appalling and definitely not the EFCC you worked very hard to put on a solid footing.
“For a Nigerian, who engaged in a legitimate transaction to be going through all this with members of his family, leaves much to be desired. A situation where EFCC is being used and controlled by some unscrupulous individuals for their selfish gains should be completely condemned. ”Sir, the EFCC has achieved a lot in bringing sanity to our body polity, whether anybody likes it or not, the attitude of some of your officers can erode the confidence that this government led by President Muhammadu Buhari and Nigerians have in you. ”Mr. Ademola Osiyemi, Mr. Marcus’s friend, in one of the telephone conversations with Mr. Obinna, confessed that money actually exchanged hands between Mr. Marcus and Mrs. Deborah Oni, the EFCC official. ”Mr. Chairman, we, therefore, implore you to use your highly esteemed office to investigate this matter and order the release of the vehicle and stop the harassment, blackmail and intimidation on phone of Pastor Obinna by both the EFCC, Mr. Marcus and Mr. Ademola Osiyemi.”