The Federal High Court in Abuja’s Justice Inyang Ekwo has stated that the information at his disposal clearly demonstrated that the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission’s application for the temporary forfeiture of assets allegedly linked to former Deputy Senate President Senator Ike Ekweremadu was made in bad faith in order to facilitate the legislator’s continued detention by the British government.
The court further concluded that the affidavits presented to it refuted the EFCC’s assertion that Ekweremadu, his company, Foundation, and wife owned all 40 of the properties named.
Justice Ekwo ruled that the facts of the dispute between the EFCC and Ekweremadu provided an appalling situation that shouldn’t have been endured by by a Nigerian whether at home or overseas.
“It is not hard to reason that the essence of the application for interim forfeiture by the Respondent (EFCC) is to give credence to the letter of 18th July, 2022 (Exh. SIE 2) to the Crown Prosecution Service and to give them further reason for continued custody of Senator Ike Ekweremadu in the United Kingdom.
“The facts of this case presents a heart-rending scenario and prompt me to say this- no Nigerian should be made to go through this kind of travail whether at home or abroad.
“Another evidence of bad faith is that the Respondent (EFCC) represented in this case that is a matter of interim forfeiture order against the assets in various locations belonging to Senator Ike Ekweremadu, Power Properties Limited, Ikeoha Foundation, and Beatrice N. Ekweremadu.
“By this application, the Court was made to see all the properties mentioned in the ex-parte application as belonging to Senator Ike Ekweremadu, Power Properties Limited, Ikeoha Foundation, and Beatrice Ekweremadu.
“However, the development after the Court has given a different picture. I have noted that there are Affidavits to Show Cause respectively from one Uni-Medical Health Care Limited and Anambra State Government claiming to be owners of some of the properties, which ownership has been attributed to Senator Ike Ekweremadu, Power Properties Limited, Ikeoha Foundation and his wife, Beatrice Ekweremadu. These respective Affidavits to Show Cause is indicative of bad faith on the part of the Respondent (EFCC)”, the trial judge ruled.
It would be recalled that the Court had on Friday vacated the interim forfeiture order on 40 landed property allegedly linked to Ekweremadu, his wife, Beatrice, Foundation and companies.
Justice Ekwo found that the application for forfeiture filed by the EFCC was not brought in good faith, while the agency also failed to disclose material facts about the matter, and therefore ought to be struck out.
The court held that although the anti-graft agency knew the predicament of Ekweremadu and his wife in the United Kingdom (UK) and did not deny writing a letter to the Crown Prosecution Service in the UK to furnish them with information about the lawmaker, the EFCC still brought an application seeking an order for them to show cause on the assets to be forfeited.
“In this case, the respondent (EFCC) wrote Exhibit SIE 2 (a letter) to the Crown Prosecution Service in the United Kingdom which letter was used as evidence to deny Senator Ike Ekweremadu bail in the criminal proceedings.
“At the same time, the respondent filed ex-parte application for interim forfeiture, which upon order being made thereon required Senator Ike Ekweremadu and his wife to show cause in Nigeria why an order for final forfeiture ought not to be made.
“I have been asking myself the question repeatedly: How can a citizen of Nigeria who is incarcerated outside the country to the knowledge of the respondent, be expected to show cause in an action in Nigeria brought by the respondent?
“In other words, how do you help to tie down a man and initiate a fight and demand that the same man you have helped to tie down must defend himself?
“This in my opinion, is an unconscionable act. The act of the respondent clearly shows that this action was brought in bad faith.
“In law, bad faith entails dishonesty of belief or purpose. I find that the application for forfeiture, going by the facts of this case has not been brought in good faith and ought to be struck out”, Justice Ekwo stated.