Ekweremadu: Court berates EFCC, says facts of case heart-rending
The Federal High Court sitting in Abuja has described facts leading to the continued detention of the former Deputy Senate President, Senator Ike Ekweremadu, as pathetic and heart-rending.
Trial Justice Inyang Ekwo, while vacating the interim order that allowed the Federal Government to seize 40 properties that were linked to the embattled lawmaker, berated the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, for the role it played in his continued detention, saying
no Nigerian should be made to pass through such travail, whether at home or abroad.
Ekweremadu, who is currently facing trial in the United Kingdom, UK, over an allegation that he brought one David Ukpo into the country for the purpose of harvesting his organ, had in processes he filed before the court through his lawyers, accused the EFCC of being responsible for his continued detention.
He bemoaned that he would have been released on bail, if not for a letter he said was forwarded to the London Court by the anti-graft agency.
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He begged the court to either set aside the interim forfeiture order or suspend further proceedings in the matter until he is able to appear to show cause why his properties should not be confiscated.
Stressing that the properties in question have been the subject of an investigation that started in 2008, Ekweremadu argued that EFCC was aware that he was detained in the UK, before it moved to seize his assets.
Meanwhile, in the ruling he delivered last Friday, Justice Ekwo accused the Commission of suppressing material facts before the court.
The Judge held: “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 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 development after 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).
“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”, Justice Ekwo ruled.
EFCC had in an ex-parte application marked FHC/ABJ/CS/1242/2022, which it supported with an affidavit of urgency, identified the properties as the subject of an ongoing investigation.
It told the court that the landed properties, 10 of which are situated in Enugu, three in the United States of America, USA, two in the United Kingdom, UK, one in Lagos, nine in Dubai, and 15 located in the Federal Capital Territory, are suspected to have been acquired with proceeds of crime.