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Federal High Court vacates forfeiture order on Ekweremadu’s properties

By Ameh Ochojila, Abuja
21 January 2023   |   4:20 am
A Federal High Court in Abuja yesterday vacated an interim forfeiture of 40 landed properties granted against former Deputy President of the Senate, Ike Ekweremadu.

[FILES[ Ike Ekweremadu

HURIWA Commends Judiciary

A Federal High Court in Abuja yesterday vacated an interim forfeiture of 40 landed properties granted against former Deputy President of the Senate, Ike Ekweremadu.

Justice Inyang Ekwo vacated the order following a discovery that the Forfeiture Order was fraudulently obtained by the Federal Government against the properties.

The Judge, while lifting the order, held that the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), which obtained the order on behalf of the Federal Government, concealed information that led to granting it.

Specifically, Justice Ekwo said the EFCC, which was fully aware that Ekweremadu was in custody in the United Kingdom, failed to make the vital information available to court.

With his detention in London, the Judge agreed with counsel to Ekweremadu, Chief Adegboyega Awomolo (SAN), that there was no way the former Deputy President of the Senate would be opportuned to defend his ownership of the disputed properties.

Justice Ekwo had on November 4 last year issued the interim forfeiture order in favour of the Federal Government following an ex-parte application brought before him by EFCC.

The Judge specifically directed that anybody who had interest in the forfeited properties should indicate within 14 days of the publication of the interim forfeiture order from the court.

The former Deputy Senate President and his wife are currently standing trial in the United Kingdom over an alleged organ harvest. Meanwhile, the Human Rights Writers Association (HURIWA) has rebuked the EFCC for misleading the Court, calling for the censure of the hierarchy of the anti-graft agency for judicial subterfuge.

HURIWA, in a statement yesterday by its National Coordinator, Emmanuel Onwubiko, said the ruling has further exposed “the alleged unholy alliance of the EFCC and the London Metropolitan Police and authorities” in the continued detention of the Senator, reiterating that failure to penalise the EFCC would further entrench the abuse of court process.

HURIWA said: “We commend the court for this show of courage despite the well known tactics of intimidation and arm-twisting of the judiciary allegedly by the EFCC.

“This well grounded ruling has confirmed our November 4, 2022, position that the asset forfeiture lawsuit at a time Ekweremadu was in custody, facing trial in the United Kingdom, and unable to defend himself was malicious, immoral, in bad faith and tantamount to a country throwing her citizen under the bus.

“We are equally happy with the court with the report that the judiciary in this ruling reportedly made it obvious to Nigerians and the entire world that the London prosecutors relied on EFCC’s letter to block Ekweremadu’s bail for an alleged offence that is bailable, but only for the same EFCC to come home to ask a man they helped to keep in perpetual detention to come forth to show cause why his alleged properties should not be forfeited.
“It is a shame that from the July 2018 simultaneous siege to the homes of Ekweremadu and Dr. Bukola Saraki, in series of persecutions and intimidation of the presiding officers of the 8th Senate, the EFCC has gone on to desecrate fine principles of fair hearing, as well captured by Honourable Justice Ekwo

“It is therefore our view that this willful subterfuge, concealment of facts, misleading of the court, and obtaining of court order by false pretence by the EFCC as contained in the ruling must be met with adequate legal censure to serve as a deterrent to other agencies.”