20 October 2017

Nigeria: Court Declines EFCC's Request to Seize Patience Jonathan's Property

Photo: The Guardian
Patience Jonathan.

Abuja — The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), yesterday, failed to convince the Federal High Court, Abuja to hear its ex-parte motion seeking an order to seize the Plot 1758 Cadastral Zone, Ado, Central Business District of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) property belonging to Dame Patience Jonathan.

Justice Nnamdi Dimgba could not hear the application following heated arguments between counsel to Mrs. Jonathan, Chief Mike Ozekhome (SAN), and that of the anti-graft agency, Sylvanus Tahir.

While Ozekhome challenged the jurisdiction of the court to entertain the application, Tahir, on the other hand, struggled to put his case through.

The EFCC lawyer noted that Dame Jonathan was a stranger to the exparte motion, and as such, could not challenge the motion.

He urged the court to grant the order. According to him, it was only then that Dame Jonathan could ask for a revocation of the order.

Ozekhome, who addressed the court on behalf of the lead counsel, Ifedayo Adedipe (SAN), stated that there were circumstances where an exparte application could be opposed like the instant case.

He added that the EFCC motion was an example where an exparte application could be challenged because it was an abuse of court process.

He maintained that the commission wanted to overreach a pending fundamental human rights suit filed before the court by Ariwabai Aruewa Reachout Foundation - the owners of the property in question.

The senior lawyer urged the court to hear his jurisdiction application first to check the abuse of process.

Ruling, Justice Dimgba held that exparte applications are heard without the other party. He noted that there was no counter-affidavit challenging the motion on jurisdiction. He also observed that the issue of abuse of court process had been raised.

Therefore, for the singular reason that it must protect its integrity, the court, decided to conduct inquiries, adding that the only way to do so was to hear both applications together.

He consequently adjourned the matter to November 11 for hearing.

Also yesterday, former governor of Sokoto State, Attahiruru Bafarawa and his son, Sagir, lost their bid to separate their trial from that of erstwhile National Security Adviser (NSA), Col. Mohammed Sambo Dasuki (rtd), who is being tried for alleged $2.1 billion arms fund diversion and corruption charges by the Federal Government.

Other defendants are one-time Minister of State for Finance, Bashir Yuguda and an ex-Director of Finance in the office of the NSA, Salisu Shaibu.

The former governor and son, who are fourth and fifth defendants in the matter, had complained to Justice Husseni Baba-Yusuf that their joint trial with Dasuki was oppressive and affecting their daily life because of the incessant delay.

In the motion for separation of the case, argued by their counsel, Dr. Kayode Olatoke (SAN), they argued that they could be prosecuted separately to ensure accelerated trial.

However in his ruling, Justice Baba-Yusuf dismissed the motion, saying it had been overtaken by events with the presence of Dasuki in court yesterday.

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