Posted by By Abimbola Akosile on
A Federal High Court, in Lagos, has been urged to set aside a December 23, 2005 order, issued by Justice T. Abubakar, to freeze all accounts and assets belonging to impeached Bayelsa State Governor, Chief Diepreye Alamieyeseigha
A Federal High Court, in Lagos, has been urged to set aside a December 23, 2005 order, issued by Justice T. Abubakar, to freeze all accounts and assets belonging to impeached Bayelsa State Governor, Chief Diepreye Alamieyeseigha, and his seven companies (co-accused); as presiding judge in the substantive trial, Justice Mohammed Shuaibu, ruleson a stay of application filed by the accused persons in the trial.
Above prayer, based on three grounds, were contained in a motion on notice filed by Chief Mike Okoye, counsel, on behalf of four of the companies, who were arraigned last December alongside Alamieyeseigha, by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) in a 40-count charge of money laundering, illegal acquisition of property and false declaration of assets.
The four applicants are Salomein & Associates Nig. Ltd, Kpedefa Nigeria Limited Jetty Properties Ltd., and Herbage Global Services Ltd.
In the said application, with Suit No. FHC/L/CS/1344/2005, Okoye based his prayer on the grounds that the court, presided over by Abubakar was without jurisdiction to entertain the ex-parte application brought by EFCC and to make the orders therein.
The defence counsel, whose motion was supported by an 11-paragraph affidavit in support sworn to by Mr Vincent Obianoyi, a counsel in Okoye chambers, claimed Justice Abubakar's orders are in violation and in breach of the applicants' fundamental human rights as secured under 1999 Constitution and the Africa Charter for Human and Peoples' Rights; and described the orders made on December 23, 2005, as a nullity.
In the affidavit in support of the motion, Obianoyi claimed the application was filed without respondents, as the parties whose assets were to be seized and forfeited were not made parties to the said application, and that there is no pending application for interlocutory or final order, since the ex-parte order was made.
He averred that it is against the rule of natural justice for a superior court of law to make an order forfeiting both the moveable and immoveable properties of the applicants without giving them a hearing; that the applicants have not been convicted of any offence whatsoever by any court of law; and that it is in the interest of justice that the application be granted.
Justice Abubakar, upon an ex-parte originating summons dated December 21, 2005 and filed the next day by the EFCC, had ordered that the several houses, buildings, hotels and bank accounts listed in the schedule, alleged properties of former Governor Alamieyeseigha, should be temporarily forfeited to the Federal Government pending the conclusion of investigation and prosecution of the accused persons. He also ordered the listed 30 bank accounts frozen.
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