By Anayo Adibe
As it stands, Babagana Abba Dalori is the longest-held present detainee of the EFCC. He is not an embezzler of funds, he is not a briber; he has not abused his office, as many of our fellow citizens who are still carrying on with their lives freely have done; he is not a fraudster. Rather, he is a citizen whose efforts and rights to be a productive member are being grossly and unjustly perverted.
Babagana Abba Dalori, a computer and electronic engineer, is the managing director and chief executive office of Galaxy Transportation and Construction Services Limited. His enterprise, which is engaged in sand mining and transportation management is one of the most dynamic names in the industry today, and to reflect this, it is managed by a team of innovative young Nigerians -the future of this nation- with Dalori at the helm. To provide an impression of its operative scale, the company boasts of branches in over ten states in Nigeria and employs a roster of about 3000 people. It has grown to this size within the seven years since it first began operations.
As much as it has thrived, Galaxy Transportation has also strived to stay above board of ethical obligations. Besides being duly incorporated as a limited liability company. It has also, with a view to transparency, contracted a compliance officer, whose duties among others include liaising with the EFCC and to furnish them with weekly updates of her activities; and as such ensuring that the company’s activities are within the purview of the law. As a measure of bona fide inclinations, the company has never once failed to brief the EFCC on its activities.
The conscientious reader may ask: how then has Engineer Dalori become embroiled in such a predicament? In fact, the remote factor is a tragedy in the form of force majeure. In 2018, earth tremors and flooding occurred in Abuja and its environs. Dalori’s company was severely hampered in the wake of this, as crucial equipment was lost and operations had to be suspended. In any case, the Federal Government mandated that all mining and related activities be suspended.
Invariably and unfortunately, this resulted in the company being unable to meet up with contractual obligations. The reasons for these shortcomings were explained to the company’s contractual clients, some of whom were not satisfied with the explanations and as such resorted to civil actions to enforce their contractual rights. Some of these cases are still pending in the courts; on the other hand, a few clients elected to engage the EFCC as enforcers, notwithstanding the fact that the contracts were civil in nature.
On a sinister note, it would appear that this latter class of persons, due to their close relationships to people in government and in the EFCC, have sequestered Dalori in EFCC custody — since February 2019 and without bail—while the company’s corporate headquarters have been sealed and its accounts have been frozen by the Commission. The company’s operations have thereby been crippled and in a cruel twist, it has been rendered extremely difficult to meet financial obligations to clients as such. (Instructively, almost all personnel from government security agencies have invested in the company; we shall not fail to provide a comprehensive list of these investors should the need arise). The EFCC has demanded that the company make monetary deposits a condition for release; Dalori and his company are virtually being held for ransom, without legal basis mandated by a court of law.
In July 2019, the Federal High Court had in a suit for the enforcement of his fundamental rights against the EFCC, declaring Dalori’s arrest and continued detention a violation of his rights. His immediate release was ordered. This court order was ignored by the EFCC, who instead arraigned him before another court. Predictably, the court granted him bail and committed him to prison custody. Melodramatically, upon the fulfillment of his bail conditions and subsequent release from prison, Dalori was rearrested by the EFCC, which apparently had held a vigil to monitor him on the prison premises. He has remained, baselessly, in EFCC custody since.
What this amounts to is a blatant flouting of the constitution and a frankly Kafkaesque perversion of individual rights in what is ostensibly a free state. Dalori is being scapegoated by unscrupulous entities with vested interests who have little regard for the rule of law.
Consequently, we choose to use this medium to draw the attention of the president to the present plight of the company, having regard to the fact that all efforts to reach him have proved abortive. As such, we are calling upon the president to, as a matter of urgency, (1) effect a discreet investigation of the cases of illegal detention of suspects in EFCC cells without bail or arraignment in a court of law, (2) to investigate cases of interference in civil transactions by the EFCC, (3) and the illegal freezing of bank accounts by the EFFC, which thereby cripples the businesses of genuine investors.
In is in the interest of enterprise, democracy and simply integrity that the plight of Babagana Abba Dalori does not go unheeded, else we provide a mandate for the persistence of tyranny, overzealousness and corruption in our so-called government commissions.
– Adibe is an Associate, Amnesty International, Abuja – Nigeria