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Court Ordered EFCC To Pay N10m in Damages For Defaming Christ Embassy Pastors With Unlawful Publication

A Federal High Court sitting in Yenagoa, the Bayelsa State capital, has faulted a publication by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) in a national daily on June 8, 2022, declaring Pastor Οyinmiebi Biribena and his wife, Pastor Beatrice Biribena, wanted.

Bribena is the Pastor in charge Christ Embassy Church in Kumasi, Ghana.

The Court presided over by Justice Isa Dashen said the publication was done without a valid court order, thus unjustified, unlawful and unconstitutional.

In the ruling, Justice Dashen held that the publication violated the couple’s fundamental human rights.

The judgment was in a suit which the couple filed on June 10, 2022 seeking the enforcement of their fundamental human rights against the EFCC and the commission’s erstwhile spokesman Wilson Umujaren.

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The court entered judgment in favour of the Biribena couple, and resolved the sole issue against the EFCC and Umujaren.

It declared that the EFCC’s publication constituted a breach of their fundamental rights to personal liberty, freedom of movement, right to private and family life and dignity of human person as enshrined in sections 34(1), 35(1) 37 and 41(1) of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria (as amended), and Articles 4, 5, 6 and 12(1) of the African Charter on Human and Peoples Rights (Ratification and Enforcement) Act, Cap A9, Laws of the Federation, 2004.

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Justice Dashen gave an order directing and compelling the EFCC to offer a public apology to the Biribena couple over the “unlawful and unconstitutional” publication.

The judge also gave an order restraining the EFCC from inviting, harassing, arresting and detaining the couple pending the determination of the suit between Bliss Multinational Perfections Limited and another vs Economic and Financial Crimes Commission.

He awarded N10,000,000.00 as exemplary damages against the EFCC and Umujaren, jointly and severally, for the unlawful infringement of the fundamental rights of the Biribenas and the psychological trauma and humiliation they suffered as a result of the publication.

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In a related suit, Justice Dashen held that the seizure and sealing of Bliss Multinational Perfections Limited’s property at 1 Otiotio Road, Yenezue-Gene, Yenagoa, Bayelsa State (known as Bliss Emporium) by the EFCC was wrong, unlawful and ought to be returned.

The judge said the property was not built with the proceeds of any crime.

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