Ekweremadu 40 Buildings: Court Vacates Interim Forfeiture Order
On Friday, Justice Inyang Ekwo of the Federal High Court in Abuja revoked his earlier decision to temporarily forfeit 40 properties connected to the former Deputy President of the Senate, Ike Ekweremadu.
The order was revoked by Justice Ekwo on the grounds that it was obtained through false information.
The court criticized the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) for asking someone who is currently being held in the United Kingdom to come and demonstrate why the affected properties shouldn’t be permanently forfeited to the government in its ruling on Ekweremadu’s motion challenging the interim forfeiture order.
Justice Ekwo had ordered the federal government to temporarily seize 40 landed properties belonging to the former Deputy Senate President in response to an exparte application by the EFCC last year.
This was done while waiting for the affected parties to provide justification as to why the properties should not be permanently given to the federal government.
Ekweremadu, through his attorney, the Anambra State Government, and a medical company have all come forward to contest the order of interim forfeiture since it was issued.
While Chief Adegboyega Awomolo, SAN, argued on behalf of Ekweremadu, Mr. Sylvanus Tahir, SAN, the federal government’s attorney, said he would not oppose a status quo order pending Ekweremadu’s return, who is currently being held in the United Kingdom on suspicion of organ harvesting.
Ekweremadu claimed in his application to set aside the order of interim forfeiture that the EFCC was to blame for his ordeals at the London Court, where he has been detained since June of this year over allegations that he brought a minor to the country in order to harvest the child’s organs.
While arguing that the alleged victim was not a minor as claimed and that he had agreed to travel with them to the UK to donate a portion of his organ for Ekweremadu’s ill daughter in a London hospital, Ekweremadu, who was detained alongside his wife Beatrice, pleaded not guilty to the charge.
Justice Ekwo was informed by Awomolo in support of the allegations that the commission wrote a letter to London after which the foreign court refused Ekweremadu bail.
The learned silk went on to say that the EFCC suppressed information and facts regarding the properties, leading to the federal government’s improper receipt of the forfeiture order.
Awomolo asserts that the anti-graft agency deceitfully obtained the forfeiture order for the government by hiding the fact that an investigation into the 40 properties began in 2008.
Among other things, he claimed that when the application for forfeiture of the properties was made and argued, the EFCC was fully aware that Ekweremadu was being held in London.
He claimed that the anti-graft organization purposefully chose not to inform the court that the former DSP is being held in London and is therefore unable to contest the request for forfeiture.
In order to prevent further action in the case until Ekweremadu’s ordeal at the London Court is resolved, Awomolo pleaded with the court to reverse the forfeiture order.
The EFCC’s attorney, Tahir, responded by denying that his client was responsible for Ekweremadu’s ordeal.
However, Tahir acknowledged that the EFCC wrote the London Court in response to a specific request, and he added that information sharing between anti-graft organizations was customary.
Tahir vehemently opposed the request to set aside the forfeiture order but did not object to the request for a stay of the proceedings until Ekweremadu had fully resolved his case before the London Court.
After hearing from the parties and setting a deadline for a decision, Justice Ekwo set January 25 of the following year.
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