Should a Federal High Court, Lagos grant a request before it, giant communication outfit, MTN Nigeria Communications Limited, may pay N5 billion in damages to a prominent senior advocate, Mr. Rickey Tarfa, over a violation of his rights to privacy by the firm.
Also sued are the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), its boss, Ibrahim Mustafa Magu, Mrs. Rashidatou Abdou and an activist, Femi Falana (SAN).
In the originating motion on notice brought pursuant to Section 37 of the 1999 Constitution, as amended, Article 9 of the African Charter on Human and People’s Rights (Ratification and Enforcement) Act Cap 10, LFN,1990, Tarfa is seeking an order declaring that the unauthorised act of using his iPhone 6 with mobile number 08034600000 in calling one Alhaji Ado, in Kaduna, on mobile number 08061272929 on February 9, 2016, while the said phone was with Magu and the agency, without any reasonable cause or any court order was unlawful, wrongful, illegal and a gross violation of his rights.
Specifically, the applicant asked the court to declare that the unauthorised act of accessing his bank details, clients information, private and confidential information contained in his iPhone 6 with number 08034600000 and Samsung 6 phone with number 08077341616 by the EFCC and Magu without any reasonable cause or any court order is unlawful, wrongful, illegal and a gross violation of his fundamental rights.
Besides, Tarfa asked the court to declare that the unauthorised act of accessing the phone call records/call log of his phone with mobile number 08034600000 by the respondents and forwarding same to Sahara Reporters and other online news agencies, without any reasonable cause, or any court order, was unlawful, wrongful, illegal and a gross violation of his rights under the constitution.
Also attached to the motion on notice is a 134 paragraph affidavit, wherein the applicant stated that trouble began when the relationship between his client, Ghanhoue Nazaire and 3rd respondent, Mrs. Rashidatou Abdou, blessed with a child went soar in 2011.
Consequently, Mrs. Abdou complained of being excluded from the management and control of Rana Prestige Industries Nigeria Limited. By 2012, she filed a minority shareholder’s action in suit No: IKJ/CP/179/2012, between herself and Nazaire, for winding up of the company. The petition was later withdrawn and struck out.
Dissatisfied, she wrote another petition to the Police Special Fraud Unit complaining about her exclusion from the company and Mr. Nazaire was detained for a day but, when the Inspector General of Police discovered the case lacked merit and not within scope of their power, he told parties to settle amicably and Nazaire was released.
Meanwhile Mrs. Abdou did not pay for her shares, which brought about the suit No: FHC/L/CS/1436/13 between Rana Prestige Industries Limited and anor Vs. Mrs Abdou Rashidatou, filed to determine the legality or otherwise of the lien placed on the petitioner’s shares and the suit is pending before a Federal High Court, Lagos.
It was while this suit was pending that Mrs. Abdou Rashidatou, through her lawyer, Femi Falana, on December 16, 2013, wrote a petition against Mr. Nazaire to the EFCC claiming that she was unlawfully excluded from the company, while her signature was forged on the various documents, including resolution and CAC form of the company.
Upon the petition, EFCC went and sealed up another company of Mr. Nazaire, froze the company’s, as well as Nazaire’s accounts, without any order of court. While all these were happening, the respondents did not take the matter to court rather, the EFCC and Mr. Falana were pressurising Mr. Nazaire to pay the sum of N250 million to Mrs. Abdou to settle the matter.
It was at this point that Tarfa came into the matter and three suits, namely: FHC/L/CS/714/2015, Adewale Adeniyi vs. EFCC and 2 Ors for unlawful arrest and detention of the applicant (in proxy of Mr. Nazaire); suit No FHC/L/CS/715/2015, Rana Prestige Industries and anor. Vs. EFCC and 2 Ors, for unlawful sealing of the premises, detention of property without any order of court and suit No. FHC/L/CS/716/2015, Hair Prestige Limited and 3 Ors vs. EFCC and 2 Ors for unlawful sealing of the premises, detention of property without any order of court, were filed on May 15, 2015 and the three suits assigned to Justice Mohammed Yunusa of the Federal High Court, Lagos. The Judge heard all three suits on the merit and delivered judgments against the respondents in the suits.
Mrs. Abdou Rashidatou, through Falana, filed a motion of appeal against the judgment complaining of bias against the judge on the ground of alleged communication between Tarfa and the Judge.
Meanwhile, the respondents are yet to file any defence and the matter is yet to be assigned to any Judge.