Court dismisses Shagaya’s suit over seized N1.9b
Another strikes out N1b case against 13 Anglican members
The Federal High Court, Lagos, has dismissed the application filed by a businesswoman, Hajiya Bola Shagaya, seeking to unfreeze N1.9 billion belonging to her.
The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) had on December 29, 2016 secured an interim order attaching the money in Shagaya’s account domiciled in Unity Bank to the Federal Government temporarily.
The presiding judge, Justice Oluremi Oguntoyinbo, in her judgment yesterday, said the EFCC validly secured the interim order from Justice Muslim Hassan of the same court.
She, therefore, dismissed the motion for lacking in merit and described it as abuse of court process.
Justice Hassan had pronounced that the order was to last pending conclusion of investigation by the EFCC.
But not satisfied with Justice Hassan’s decision, Shagaya, through her counsel, filed a motion seeking to unfreeze the account, claiming that the EFCC’s action violates her rights to own property.
She said she was never afforded the opportunity before the order was secured.
Justice Oguntoyinbo said the order was made ex-parte and, as such, there was no way the court would have listened to her own side of the story.
“The interim order was made based on an ex-parte application filed by the EFCC. An ex-parte application has no respondent and the court is not expected to hear from the other party. Even when the other party is around, it can only be seen and not heard. Therefore, the failure of Justice Hassan to hear the applicant cannot invalidate the order.
“The granting of the interim order of attachment is not unconstitutional and does not constitute an infringement on the applicant’s rights to own property,” the judge held.
In another development, Rivers State High Court has struck out criminal charges against 13 Anglican Church members who were accused of embezzling N1 billion church funds at St. Matthew’s Anglican Church, Nkpogwu, Port Harcourt.
The accused persons were discharged due to lack of diligent prosecution.
Counsel for the accused persons, Chika Igbokwe, represented in court yesterday by Chris Kalio, prayed the court to strike out the matter on ground that the complainant has never appeared in court since the matter came up.
Kalio, who lamented that after many adjournments, the prosecutor is still not ready to go on with the case, said the matter slated for definite hearing had not been heard on three different dates fixed for it.
After listening to the submissions of the defence counsel, the trial judge, Justice Dappa Addo, struck out the matter for want of diligent prosecution.
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