Ekweremadu Challenges FG’s Panel Seeking The Forfeiture Of His 22 “Undeclared” Houses In Court
The Deputy Senate President, Ike Ekweremadu, has urged the Federal High Court in Abuja to dismiss the ex parte application filed by the Federal Government seeking the forfeiture of his 22 “undeclared” houses in Nigeria and abroad.
In a motion he filed in opposition to the Federal Government’s ex parte application to seize the houses, Ekweremadu contended that the Special Presidential Investigation Panel for the Recovery of Public Property had no locus standi to file a suit for the forfeiture of his houses.
The lawmaker argued that the presidential panel was established by a military decree in 1983, and had since been replaced by the Code of Conduct Bureau pursuant to the provisions of the Code of Conduct Bureau/Tribunal Act and the 1999 Constitution.
He contended that “a dead panel” lacked the locus standi to, on behalf of the Federal Government, probe and apply for an interim court order for the forfeiture of his 22 assets. Urging the court to dismiss the applicant’s ex parte motion, he contended that the Code of Conduct Tribunal and not the Federal High Court, had jurisdiction to hear matters relating to assets declaration by a public officer.
The Okoi-Obon-Obla-led presidential panel had on March 21, 2018 filed an ex parte motion seeking an order of interim forfeiture of 22 of Ekweremadu’s houses located in Nigeria and abroad pending the conclusion of the investigation of the Deputy Senate President’s failure to declare the properties as part of his assets.
The panel, through its lawyer, Mr. Festus Keyamo (SAN), had, in the ex parte motion, stated that “preliminary investigation by the applicant revealed that a prima facie case of a breach of the Code of Conduct for Public Officers has been made out against the respondent (Ekweremadu).”
The houses, which the panel accused Ekweremdu of acquiring between 2007 and 2015 but failed to declare in June 2007 and June 2015, include nine in Abuja, two in London, the United Kingdom, eight in Dubai, the United Arab Emirate and three in Florida, the United States.
Ekweremadu is the only respondent to the motion marked FHC/ABJ/CS/284/2018.
The matter has been assigned to Justice Murtala Nyako of the Abuja Division of the Federal High Court but no date has been slated for hearing.
But Ekweremadu, through his lawyer, Chief Adegboyega Awomolo (SAN), on Monday filed a motion seeking to be allowed to air his opposition to the Federal Government’s ex parte motion.