Ekweremadu asks court to vacate forfeiture order

0 141

THE Anambra State Government and a medical company yesterday told a Federal High Court in Abuja, that some of the landed property the court ordered to be temporarily forfeited to the federal government belongs to them.

This was just as Ekweremadu asked the court to set aside the November 4, order of interim forfeiture granted to the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).

The defendants in three different applications brought to the court challenged the forfeiture of the said property to the government.

Justice Inyang Ekwo of the Federal High Court, Abuja had on November 4, ordered the temporary seizure of 40 landed property belonging to the Deputy Senate President, Ike Ekweremadu, who is currently being detained in the United Kingdom over alleged organ harvesting charge.

The judge while adjourning the matter, also ordered that any person who has a reason why the temporary order should not be made absolute should appear before him at the next adjourned date.

When the matter came up yesterday, lawyer to the Anambra State Government, Mr. Chuks Igbinedion, told the court that, “the property listed as No. 1 in Schedule “A” in Page 2 of the interim order granted on November 4, 2022, known as No 14/16, Charles Street, GRA Enugu” belonged to it.

The state in an affidavit to show cause why the property should not be forfeited to the federal government, claimed that the said property neither belonged to Ekweremadu nor his wife, Beatrice Ekweremadu, including Power Properties Ltd.

Deponent of the affidavit, one Mr. Amah Kalu, a litigation secretary in Igbinedion’s law firm, stated that Enugu State was created from old Anambra by the then Head of State, General Ibrahim Babangida, on August 27, 1991, adding that the sharing of assets between the two states was in a white paper published by the federal government.

According to him, in the said white paper, the federal government inter alia; directed that the ownership of five residential houses in Enugu hitherto jointly owned by both states, should be transferred to the Anambra State Government to be used as guest houses.

He said Anambra government and Ekweremadu are currently before Enugu State High Court over the ownership of the building.

Igbinedion subsequently prayed the court to delist the house as part of the property belonging to Ekweremadu.

In its own application, Uni-medical Healthcare Limited urged the court to discharge the interim order made against “the property in No. 7 to Schedule “A” of the application.”

In an affidavit deposed to by its Regional Manager, Onyebuchi Michael, the firm claimed legal owner of the property at Plot 680 and 681, Independence Layout, Enugu in Enugu State “referred to as 23, Umunana Street, Independence Layout, Enugu State.”

The deponent averred that the company bought the property from Power Properties Nigeria Limited in the sum of N300 million in August 2021, adding that the perfection of the title which was completed on March 24, predated the EFCC’s application dated and filed on July 27.

Ekweremadu’s eldest child, Lloyd in the third application marked: FHC/ABJ/CS/1242/2022, and filed by Chief Adegboyega Awomolo, prayed the court for an order setting aside the Interim forfeiture order on his father’s property and companies.

The motion, dated and filed on November 21, had Lloyd as applicant and EFCC as sole respondent.

According to Lloyd, the facts in support of the EFCC’s ex-parte originating motion, “deliberately and fraudulently omitted very critical facts/evidence, which negate the granting of the application.”

He argued that the motion which the anti-graft agency commenced the action was filed in absolute bad faith.

According to him, the originating motion ex-parte was an abuse of judicial process, oppressive, intimidating and unfair to the parties interested in the property forfeited in the interim.

He said, “the originating motion ex-parte was initiated with the expectation that Senator Ike Ekweremadu and other persons interested in the property be denied of their right to fair hearing,” Lloyd said.

Meanwhile, EFCC’s lawyer, Sylvanus Tahir told the court that he was yet to respond to the processes filed by interested parties in the matter, and urged the court for an adjournment.

Awomolo, Ekweremadu ‘s lawyer; Kingsley Ugwu, who appeared for Uni-medical Healthcare Limited and Anambra government’s counsel, Igbinedion, did not oppose the application.

Justice Ekwo consequently adjourned the matter until December 15 for hearing.

Justice Ekwo had on November 4, issued ordered temporary seizure of 40 landed property linked to Ekweremadu.

The order followed an ex -parte motion filed and moved by Ibrahim Buba, a lawyer to the anti-corruption agency.

According to the judge, the EFCC shall publish the interim forfeiture order of the property in a national daily within seven days and that interested parties should show cause within 14 days of the publication why the property should not be permanently forfeited to the federal government.