The ongoing investigation into the assets owned by the Deputy Senate President, Ike Ekweremmadu seems to be taking a new dimension as the Senator has asked an Abuja Division of the Federal High Court to stop the government from temporarily seizing assets traced to him.
Mr Ekweremadu’s lawyer, Adegboyega Awomolo, made the application in court on Tuesday at the hearing of an ex-parte motion filed in March by the Special Presidential Investigation Panel for the Recovery of Public Property.
An ex-parte motion is a matter between two parties which a court could decide upon, without necessarily hearing from both sides.
The panel accused Mr Ekweremadu, who represents Enugu West Senatorial District, of failing to declare the said assets; comprising mostly of lands and buildings located in Nigeria, Dubai, London and the United States, amounting to billions of Naira.
Subsequently, the panel, through its lawyer, Festus Keyamo, asked the court to order the temporary forfeiture of the assets contained in schedule B of the applicant’s ex-parte motion.
The motion was based on section 330 of the Administration of Criminal Justice Act, 2015, section 8 of the Recovery of Public Property (Special Provisions) Act and section 44 (2) (K) of the Nigerian constitution.
According to the motion, the temporary forfeiture of the assets would aid speedy investigations into the alleged offence, among other things.
The court presided by Binta Nyako had fixed April 10 for hearing of the ex-parte motion but was presented with the counter application on Tuesday by Mr. Awomolo.
Mr Awomolo questioned the constitutionality of the panel describing it as “unknown to law.
He asked the court to declare that the applicant lacks jurisdiction and to subsequently dismiss the motion ex-parte.
Responding to the submissions, the legal representative for the applicant, Bala Dakum, described the respondent’s motion as a ploy to delay the court process and ultimately frustrate ongoing investigations into the matter.
The case was adjourned till April 26.
The properties listed in the Schedule which the federal government is seeking to seize from Mr Ekweremadu over his alleged failure to declare them, are: No. 11, Evans Enwerem Street, Apo Legislative Quarters, Apo, Abuja; Plot 2633 Kyami, Abuja, Housing Estate; (Plot 1106 CRD, Cadastral Zone 07-07, Lugbe, Abuja; Plot 2782 Asokoro Extension, Abuja; Houses at Citi Park Estate, Gwagwalada, Abuja; Plot 1474 Cadastral Zone BD6, Mabushi, Abuja; Congress Court, Abuja; Flat 1, Block D25, Athletics Street, (24th Street) Games Village, Abuja and Plot 66, 64 Crescent, Gwarimpa Estate, Abuja.
Others located in London are, Flat 4 Varsity Court, Harmer Street, WIH 4NW, London; 52 Ayleston Avenue, NW6 7AB, London.And those in Dubai and USA are; Room 1903, The Address Hotel, Downtown Dubai; The Address Boulevard, 3901, Dubai; 2 Flats of Burij Side Boulevard (the signature), Dubai; Emirate Gardens Apartment No. EGG1/1/114, Dubai; Emirate Gardens Apartment No. EGG1/115, Dubai; Apartment No. DFB/12/B 1204, Park Towers, Dubai; Flat 3604, MAG214, Dubai and Villa No 148, Maeen 1, The Lakes Emirates Hills, Dubai; 4507 Stella Street, Bellavida Estate Kissime, Florida, USA; 2747 Club Cortile Circle, Kissime, Florida, USA and 2763 Club Cortile Circle, Kissime, Florida, USA