Facts of Ekweremadu’s case heart-breaking, says court
The Federal High Court, Abuja Division, has described the continued detention of former Deputy Senate President, Senator Ike Ekweremadu, as pathetic.
Justice Inyang Ekwo in the last Friday’s ruling in a matter of interim forfeiture order against Ekweremadu’s assets stated that no Nigerian citizen deserves to go through such a harrowing experience whether in Nigeria or overseas.
The court also held that affidavits before it contradicted the claim by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), that all the 40 properties listed in the application for interim assets forfeiture belonged to Ekweremadu, his company, Foundation and wife.
The judge said: “It is not hard to reason that the essence of the application for interim forfeiture by the Respondent (EFCC) is to give credence to the letter of 18th July 2022 to the Crown Prosecution Service and to give them further reason for continued custody of Senator Ike Ekweremadu in the United Kingdom.
“The facts of this case present a heart-rending scenario and prompt me to say this – no Nigerian should be made to go through this kind of travail whether at home or abroad.
“Another evidence of bad faith is that the Respondent (EFCC) represented in this case that it is a matter of interim forfeiture order against the assets in various locations belonging to Senator Ike Ekweremadu, Power Properties Limited, Ikeoha Foundation, and Beatrice N. Ekweremadu.
“By this application, the court was made to see all the properties mentioned in the ex-parte application as belonging to Senator Ike Ekweremadu, Power Properties Limited, Ikeoha Foundation and Beatrice Ekweremadu.
“However, the evidence before the court has given a different picture. I have noted that there are affidavits to show cause respectively from one Uni-Medical Health Care Limited and Anambra State Government, claiming to be owners of some of the properties, which ownership has been attributed to Senator Ike Ekweremadu, Power Properties Limited, Ikeoha Foundation and his wife, Beatrice Ekweremadu. These respective affidavits to Show Cause are indicative of bad faith on the part of the Respondent (EFCC).”
The Court had on Friday vacated the interim forfeiture order on 40 landed properties allegedly linked to Ekweremadu, his wife, Foundation and companies on the ground that the application for forfeiture filed by EFCC was not brought in good faith, while the agency also failed to disclose material facts about the matter.
The court held that “In this case, the respondent (EFCC) wrote Exhibit SIE 2 (a letter) to the Crown Prosecution Service in the United Kingdom which letter was used as evidence to deny Senator Ike Ekweremadu bail in the criminal proceedings.
“At the same time, the respondent filed an ex-parte application for interim forfeiture, which upon the order being made thereon, required Senator Ike Ekweremadu and his wife to show cause in Nigeria why an order for final forfeiture ought not to be made.
“I have been asking myself the question repeatedly: How can a citizen of Nigeria who is incarcerated outside the country to the knowledge of the respondent be expected to show cause in an action in Nigeria brought by the respondent?
“In other words, how do you help to tie down a man and initiate a fight and demand that the same man you have helped to tie down must defend himself?
“This, in my opinion, is an unconscionable act. The act of the respondent clearly shows that this action was brought in bad faith.
“In law, bad faith entails dishonesty of belief or purpose. I find that the application for forfeiture, going by the facts of this case has not been brought in good faith and ought to be struck out.”