Posted by News Express | 5 October 2017 | 1,382 times
Justice Abdulazeez Anka of the Federal High Court Ikoyi today October 4, 2017 affirmed the interim forfeiture of a property belonging to Senator Peter Nwaoboshi.
Justice Anka had earlier on April 24, 2017 granted an interim forfeiture of the said property, a 12-floor high rise building to the EFCC.
However, counsel to Nwaoboshi, Anthony Idigbe SAN, approached the court to discharge the order on the grounds that the applicant misrepresented and concealed material facts to the court, including a subsisting suit filed against the applicant; and that the court lacks the jurisdiction to grant the order.
Idigbe, SAN, further informed the Court that there was no criminal process to warrant the order as Nwaoboshi was not under investigation and has not been arrested, searched or invited. He said the interim forfeiture order violated the senator's right to own property as guaranteed by Section 43 of the 1999 Constitution.
However, EFCC counsel,Ekene Ihenacho opposed the motion and urged the court to uphold the interim forfeiture order. He disclosed that in the course of investigation, the commission discovered that Nwaoboshi got a contract through his company, Bilderberg Enterprises Ltd, to supply new construction equipment to the Delta State Direct Labour Agency at N1.5 billion. The company imported and supplied used construction equipment, in place of brand new ones, despite receiving full payment. Senator Nwaoboshi allegedly bought the 12-floor building at 29, Marine Road, Apapa at the sum of N805 million, in the name of Golden Touch Construction Projects Ltd, from the proceeds of the DLA contract.
According to EFCC, the interim forfeiture order granted on April 21 was to preserve the property from being dissipated. It therefore urged the court to refuse the application in the interest of justice.
Justice Anka, while affirmative the forfeiture order, commended the EFCC for following due process, by not arresting the senator before concluding investigations. He further observed that, not being arrested or searched does not rob the court of its jurisdiction to grant an order.
Justice Anka agreed with the EFCC that the right to own property was not absolute, that fundamental rights can be curtailed by relevant agencies put in place for the purpose of carrying out its responsibilities. He stated that the court has jurisdiction to grant an ex parte Order pending investigation and prosecution and dismissed the motion for lack of merit.
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