Disturbed by criticism that a detainee, Desmond Nunugwo, died in its detention, the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, yesterday, threw open its holding facilities to journalists for assessment and that the commission fear nobody expect God.
Apparently to prove its innocence in the death of Nunugwu, the Chairman of the commission, Ibrahim Magu, flanked by some of his media managers, conducted journalist round the facilities located in its ‘Idiagbon House’ by is headquarters in Wuse 2, Abuja.
Facilities shown to journalists were the interrogation room, medical and toilet facilities as well as the cells where detainees are kept pending investigations and prosecution.
Magu boasted that EFCC’s detention facility was among the best in the country and asked journalists to take a tour of other holding facilities in the country and compare with those of the commission so as to determine his claim.
“Without boasting, we can say that we have one of the best detention facilities in the country and we do so with purpose because those being kept in our custody are merely being temporarily kept pending interrogation and prosecution.
“We have no intention to keep any detainee under an inhuman condition. That is why we have provided everything that is necessary to provide comfort for those kept in our facilities,” Magu said.
Magu, who defended the actions of the commission so far, said that every of its action was done in the overall interest of the nation and not to boost any individual’s ego.
“Let me make it very clear that we are driven by nothing but national interest in all that we do and we will continue to work for the interest of this country. We will continue to investigate and prosecute those who commit financial and economic crimes against this country.
“We fear nobody except God in the discharge of our national assignment,” the chairman said. The invitation of journalists to view the detention rooms, the first of its kind in the history of the EFCC, revealed the conditions under which the detainees are kept and how they conduct their lives while in solitude.
All of the detainees are provided by 8 inches mattresses strewn on the floor with some of them being paired in a room while as many as four are kept in larger spaces. Findings also show that all the males share about 6 toilets and similar bathrooms while the female also share their facilities. A small room serves as a mosque for Muslims.
The Head of the EFCC Medical Department, Dr. Haliru, who also conducted journalists round its medical facilities, said that relevant drugs are administered to inmates based on the medical reports of each person being brought into detention.
“We first of all take the vital statistics and conduct relevant tests to determine the medical needs of each detainee before assigning them to their cells. We also provide free of charge the prescribed drugs to the detainees so that they don’t suffer any deprivation as a result of being detained.
“We encourage them to come with their prescribed drugs and if they run out of them, we secure for them. We give them free medical attention,”Haliru said.
The death of the protocol officer in EFCC cell has sparked outrage within and outside Nigeria, prompting adverse media commentary, which the EFCC has strongly objected to.
Nunugwo, a former Chief Protocol Officer with the Ministry of Defence, was arrested by some officers of the Intelligence and Special Operations Section (ISOS) of the EFCC on June 9 at about 5.30pm for defrauding one Oleh Nnana Kalu of N63.6 million.
His untimely death has triggered accusations and petitions to the Attorney-General of the Federation, the National Assembly and Amnesty International calling for probe.
The wife of the deceased, Susanne, suspects a foul play in her husband’s death and has already petitioned the National Human Rights Commission, the Nigeria Police Force, Amnesty International and other civil society groups to probe the death. However the EFCC has said that the man died naturally barely two hours after being taken into detention over fraud related petition.
“The EFCC in the early hours of June 10, 2016 released an official statement through its spokesperson, Wilson Uwujaren, announcing the tragic incident, while also informing that the matter had been formally reported to the Nigeria Police which is the relevant agency to investigate matters such as the unfortunate death of Citizen Nunugwo.
“While the nation awaits the outcome of the Police investigation which should include the autopsy report, the family of the deceased suspect appears to have lost their patience with the Police investigation and is pre-empting its outcome with all manner of insinuations.