Court vacates interim forfeiture order against Adegboruwa
Justice A. Opesanwo of the high court of Lagos State has set aside and vacated the interim order of forfeiture upon which the Economic and Financial Commission (EFCC) based its charges against Lagos lawyer and human rights activist, Ebun-Olu Adegboruwa.
The allegedly forefeited house and property belongs to Mr. Jonathan Udeagbala, a businessman whose transaction with a partner, Mr Leonard Okafor went awry.
Following the fallout and the suit that followed, Udeagbala’s property was purportedly attached by the EFCC in August 2012. However, Justice Oluwayemi of the same court dismissed the charges against Udeagbala following the amicable settlement of the conflict by parties.
In a twist of fate, Adegboruwa was charged to court in May 2016, for allegedly dealing in property forfeited by order of court to the federal government of Nigeria, through the EFCC.
Adegboruwa, who acted as counsel to Udeagbala has consistently maintained that he committed no offence in law, but only assisted two business partners to broker a settlement arising from a telecoms transaction and that the EFCC was only taking advantage of the anti-corruption war of the Buhari regime to persecute him because of his constant criticism of the Buhari administration and in particular because of his involvement as defence counsel in the case of Chief Government Ekpemupolo (popularly known as Tompolo) and the cousin of the former President Goodluck Jonathan, Mr. Azibaola Robert.
In its ruling, the court held that once Hon Justice Oluwayemi had dismissed the main criminal charge against Udeagbala on December 17, 2016, the interim order of forfeiture could not stand and that she could not sit on appeal against the order which dismissed the case.
The court held further that it was left for the EFCC to appeal against the said order, if it was dissatisfied with it and not to seek to hold on to an interim order that was granted since 2012. The court rejected the argument of the EFCC that an appeal had been filed against the order dismissing the criminal charge as no evidence of such an appeal was produced before the court and the court could not proceed to adopt the deposition contained in paragraph 12 of the counter-affidavit filed by the EFCC.
The court consequently discharged the interim order of forfeiture, holding that as from December 17, 2015 when the criminal charge was dismissed by the Court, the order of interim forfeiture had ceased to be valid in law.