The Management of Pinnacle Communications Ltd, a licensed Digital Switch-Over operator in Nigeria, has lamented the alleged illegal invasion of its Abuja office by operatives of the Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission, ICPC.
The invasion, which it described as despicable, unwarranted, and illegal happened on Wednesday at the company’s office located on Charles De Gualle street, Asokoro, Abuja with the ICPC officials allegedly citing an “order from above.”
The operatives of the ICPC had reportedly stormed the office with fully armed policemen in four vehicles, 3 Hilux vans, and a car, garbed in ICPC jackets that authenticated their identities to arrest the Chairman and to seal the company.
Addressing a press conference in Abuja on Tuesday, the company said during the encounter, it demanded the warrants of arrest and order of the court granting the sealing of the Pinnacle office that legally gave them the impetus, adding that the operatives failed to produce any document. Rather they claimed that they were working with geographical coordinates.
It said that after they (Pinnacle) made some calls to report the brazen and unpleasant incident in the presence of the invaders, one of the ICPC operatives answered a call and proceeded to hand the phone to one of his colleagues that appeared to have led the operation, Pinnacle Communications claims.
It added that its officials “could hear the conversation and the operative said: ‘we are here already’, ‘we have not entered’, ‘they claim he is not around’, ‘No pressmen, nobody’. Afterwards, the operative on the telephone suddenly said to his colleagues ‘let’s go, let’s go, let’s go’, and they left hurriedly neither like a botched operation. The Pinnacle officials heard the operatives lamenting on their way to their vehicles that they should have shot (gunshot) their way into the premises as soon as they arrived. This no doubt amounted to regulatory terrorism.
“It is common sense in a civilized country like Nigeria that production of a warrant of arrest is the sine qua non to entering premises and attempt to arrest people and that without an order from a court of competent jurisdiction no agency of Government has the right to seal off any business premises. There are boundless legal authorities on this.
“We consider the futile attempted invasion, intimidation and threat as clear evidence of the desperation of ICPC. ICPC had filed charges relating to fraud against Pinnacle Communications and its directors. This case is still pending in court. Issues have been joined and witnesses called and cross-examined. We need not say more than that in order not to be contemptuous of the court handling the pending litigation. But can this be a sign that what they apparently cannot get through the court they want to get by force?
“Pinnacle Communications condemns, in very strong terms, the illegal attempt by ICPC to harass and intimidate the company and its officials and unbridled attempt to shut down its business.
“The action of ICPC further confirms that they have been on a witch-hunt mission from the beginning and are bent on victimizing Pinnacle Communications in direct contravention of a statement credited to the Chairman of ICPC at a speech delivered at the inauguration of the Anti-Corruption and Transparency Unit at the Federal Polytechnic, Ede, Osun State. This statement was reported online on 20 January 2020, admonishing the staff against victimizing people when doing their job. We add that they should also not scandalize genuine and law-abiding enterprises such as Pinnacle Communications Limited.
“Pinnacles Communication, as a law-abiding entity, expresses concern on this show of shame undertaken by ICPC and brazing use of force. We urge the ICPC’s Chairman, Prof Bolaji Owasanoye, who we expect is honorable enough, to rein in his officers and ensure that they comply with the rule of law and forestall actions that could further sink the image of the Commission.
“We are also urging the Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Mr. Abubakar Malami, SAN, to swiftly check the excesses of the ICPC and investigate this matter with a view to deflating the obvious display of prejudice in the agency’s dealings with Pinnacle Communication Ltd.”