By Taiye Agbaje
A Federal High Court, Abuja has fixed Jan. 25 for ruling on Sen. Ike Ekweremadu’s application, seeking an order setting aside the Nov. 4 interim forfeiture order on 40 landed property linked to him by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).
Justice Inyang Ekwo fixed the date on Thursday after Chief Adegboyega Awomolo, SAN, who appeared for Ekweremadu, and the EFCC’s lawyer, Sylvanus Tahir, SAN, argued their case for and against the application.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that Justice Ekwo had, on Nov. 4, granted the anti-graft agency’s ex-parte motion, seeking an interim order of forfeiture of some property of Ekweremadu, who was former deputy debate president.
The judge, who granted the motion, ordered the agency to publish the interim forfeiture order of the property in a national daily within seven days.
The judge direct anybody who had interest in the forfeited property to indicate within 14 days of the publication on why the property should not be permanently forfeited to the Federal Government.
NAN reports that Ekweremadu’s eldest child, Lloyd; Anambra government and a company, Uni-medical Healthcare Limited had, on Dec. 5, appeared in court as parties interested in the seized property.
Lloyd, in a motion on notice marked: FHC/ABJ/CS/1242/2022 and filed by Chief Awomolo, prayed the court for an order setting aside the Interim forfeiture order on his father’s property and companies.
Lloyd, in a four-ground argument, said that the facts In support of the the EFCC’s ex-parte originating motion “deliberately and fraudulently omitted very critical facts/evidence, which negate the granting of the application.”
He argued that the motion which the anti-graft agency commenced the action was filed in absolute bad faith.
According to him, the originating motion ex-parte was an abuse of judicial process, oppressive, intimidating and unfair to the parties interested in the property forfeited in the interim.
He said, “the originating motion ex-parte was initiated with the expectation that Sen. Ike Ekweremadu and other persons interested in the property be denied of their right to fair hearing.”
Also in its application, the Anambra government said one of the property listed in the interim order of forfeiture granted by the court belonged to the state.
The state government, through its counsel, Chuks Igbinedion, told Justice Ekwo in the affidavit to show cause why the property should not be forfeited to the Federal Government that “the property listed as No. 1 in Schedule “A” in Page 2 of the interim order granted on 4th day of November, 2022, known as No 14/16, Charles Street, GRA Enugu” belonged to the state.
The lawyer said the property neither belonged to Sen. Ekweremadu nor his wife, Beatrice, including Power Properties Ltd, their private company.
Besides, Uni-medical Healthcare Limited, in its affidavit to show cause, urged the court to discharge the interim order made against “the property in No. 7 to Schedule “A” of the application.”
The firm’s Regional Manager, Mr Onyebuchi Michael, averred that the company was the legal owner of the property at Plot 680 and 681, Independence Layout, Enugu in Enugu State “referred to as 23, Umunana Street, Independence Layout, Enugu State.”
He said the company bought the property from Power Properties Nigeria Limited in the sum of N300 million in August 2021 and the perfection of the title was completed on March 24, who he said predated the EFCC’s application dated and filed on July 27.
They all prayed the court to set aside the interim order and dismiss the EFCC’s application.