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Published On: Wed, Apr 11th, 2018

Assets declaration: Ekweremadu moves to stop forfeiture of 22 houses to FG

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By Vivian Okejeme Abuja

Deputy Senate President, Ike Ekweremmadu, yesterday, prayed the federal high court, Abuja, to stop the hearing of a motion exparte filed by the Federal Government against him.
The Federal Government, had on March 21,2018, filed an ex-parte motion seeking an interim order for temporary forfeiture of some of his undeclared properties.
When the matter came up, yesterday, the Federal Government through its counsel, Bala Dakum told the court that without its order forfeiting the said properties, “the likelihood of the frustration of investigations as well as the dissipation of the said properties is very high”.
He stressed that “an order will enable the government to carry out a thorough investigation into the activities of the respondent in the acquisition of the said properties as it relates to the allegation of a breach of Code of Conduct for Public Officers”.
Arguing his brief, Dakum told the court that the interim order would lapse as soon as investigation and further inquiry by the Special Presidential Investigation Panel for the Recovery of Public Property is concluded.
He added that the Senator under the umbrella of the People Democratic Party (PDP) may face possible arraignment after investigations.
Dakum informed the court that being an exparte application, ordinarily the respondent was not supposed to be in court not to talk of being heard.
He said what happened was that while waiting for the court to fix a date for hearing of the motion, the respondent filed an application, seeking to be heard.
The Federal Government’s lawyer informed the court that he had filed a counter affidavit in opposition to Ekweremmadu’s application.
Responding, Counsel to the Senator representing Enugu West Senatorial District, Adegboyega Awomolo, SAN, told the court that he equally filed two applications on March 26, 2018.
The 1st application filed by Awomolo is praying the court for leave to be heard in the motion exparte.
Ekweremadu said he has filed a counter affidavit to depositions contained in the Federal Government’s exparte application.
The 2nd application wants the court to decline jurisdiction and exercise of judicial power, and consequently strike out or dismiss the motion exparte.
Specifically, Awomolo based his application on the ground that the Special panel is unknown to law.
“The body that brought that motion exparte does not exist in law. We are challenging the constitutionality of its existence” Awomolo stated.
The trial judge, Justice Binta Nyako, after hearing from both parties,
severred the two applications filed by Ekweremadu, and held that the first one should be heard.
Meanwhile, opposing Ekweremmadu’s application seeking to be heard, the FG stated that all it seeks to do at this stage is to obtain an order of court stopping the Ekweremmadu from dissipating the assets in question whilst investigations are ongoing.
The Federal Government is claiming that it is not seeking to permanently deprive Ekweremadu of the use of his properties.
He submitted that the application of the respondent “is a delay tactics to frustrate the substance of this suit as there are reports that the respondent is already hurriedly selling off the assets in question”.
“Based on the submission and legal authorities canvassed, we urge my Lord to dismiss the application filed by the applicant as same has no merit.
“The stumbling of the respondent upon the exparte application pending in this court does not entitle the respondent to be heard.
“The argument of the respondent that granting temporary forfeiture of the respondent’s properties in this suit through ex parte application is an infringement on his right to fair hearing is grossly misconceived and we urge my noble Lord to so hold.
Meantime, the matter has been adjourned till April 26.

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