EFCC: How Gov Yahaya Bello Battle Over 14 Seized Properties In Court

Date: 28-03-2023 10:05 pm (1 year ago) | Author: onuigbo felicia
- at 28-03-2023 10:05 PM (1 year ago)
(f)

The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) has urged the Federal High Court in Abuja not to lift the interim forfeiture order it placed on assets linked to Governor Yahaya Bello of Kogi State.

The legal team of the governor, however, argued that the interim forfeiture order violates the constitutional immunity that shields him from criminal cases.

It was reported that the judge, Nicholas Oweibo, on 22 February, ordered the interim forfeiture of the assets including N400 million and 14 properties located in Lagos, Abuja and the United Arab Emirates.

The commission had said the money “is reasonably suspected to have been derived from the unlawful activity and intended to be used for the acquisition of Plot No. 1224 Bishop Oluwole Street, Victoria Island Lagos.”.

At the resumed hearing on the case on Tuesday, EFCC’s lawyer, Rotimi Oyedepo, a Senior Advocate of Nigeria, informed the judge that it had published “the preservation order” in the Punch Newspaper as ordered.

The commission said in a statement that the governor’s lawyer, Abdulwahab Mohammed, also a Senior Advocate of Nigeria, appeared in court on Tuesday to challenge the interim forfeiture order, following the newspaper publication.

He argued that most of the properties sought to be forfeited were acquired by Mr Bello before he became the governor of the state.

He added that the commission lacked the power to proceed against the governor as he enjoys immunity under the constitution.

But EFCC’s lawyer, Mr Oyedepo, said the commission established in its counter-affidavit “how the properties were acquired and nothing is challenging how the properties were acquired”.

“What was deposed is that most of the properties were obtained before he became Governor of Kogi State and the properties were not acquired through illegal means.

‘” Without establishing the interest of the applicant, the application is bound to fail,”
he added.

The judge fixed 20 April for ruling on whether or not to lift the forfeiture order on the assets.

Read EFCC’s statement in full
Quote
EFCC Press Release

EFCC Asks Court to Dismiss Gov Yahaya Bello’s Application to Vacate Forfeiture Order on 14 Properties, N400m

The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, on Tuesday, March 28, 2023, urged Justice Nicholas Oweibo of the Federal High Court sitting in Ikoyi, Lagos to dismiss the application by Kogi State Governor, Yahaya Bello, seeking to vacate the forfeiture order in respect of 14 properties and the sum of N400m.

The court had, on February 22, 2023, granted a preservation order of the properties linked to the Kogi State government and reasonably suspected to have been derived from unlawful activities, pursuant to Sections 9 and 10 of the Proceeds of Crimes (Recovery and Management) Act, 2022.

The properties including “Hotel Apartment Community, Burj Khalifa lying, being and situate at, Plot 160 Municipality NO 345-7562, Sky View Building No 1, Property No 401, Floor 4, Dubai U.A.E.”, were reasonably suspected to have been derived from unlawful activity.

At the resumed sitting today, the EFCC counsel, Rotimi Oyedepo, SAN informed the court that the preservation order had been published in the Punch Newspaper, in line with the court’s directive to advertise the same in one of the national dailies.

Oyedepo said: “We were directed to make a publication of the said Order and we have complied with the order of the court.

“There is an affidavit to the Order dated 22nd February, 2023, which was complied with on the 24th February, 2023.

“Sequel to that, we have received a notice of intention to oppose the making of the preservation order and we have equally responded”.

Responding, the Kogi State Governor, through his counsel, Abdulwahab Mohammed SAN, sought to vacate the order of the court, saying, “We have an application subject to your lordship’s convenience. We are ready to move the application. It was filed on March 9, 2023. The application is seeking your indulgence to vacate the order of the court made on the 22nd of February, 2023.

He argued that most of the properties sought to be forfeited were acquired by Bello before he became the Governor of the state and that the Commission lacked the power to proceed against the governor as he enjoys immunity under the constitution.

“By virtue of the position of the applicant (Kogi State Governor), you cannot proceed against him under any law, according to Section 308 of the Nigerian Constitution.

“If you want to prosecute or forfeit his properties, you have to wait till he no longer enjoys those benefits of a Governor,” he argued.

He, therefore, urged the court to grant his client’s prayers and vacate the order

In opposing the application, EFCC counsel Oyedepo relied on depositions in the 12-paragraph counter-affidavit and a written address dated 28 March, 2023, stating that the applicant failed to reply to the counter-affidavit made by the prosecution.

“In Usman against Garke, it was reported in 2003, LPLR 3431, Supreme Court, and our submission is that failure to reply to the counter-affidavit has a single legal consequence that the respondents are agreeing to the application. We urge your lordship to hold that the failure to respond is deemed admitted.

“We have cited authorities to this effect, one of which is Patience Jonathan and the FGN, in paragraph 1.08 of our submission. The Proceeds of Crime (Recovery and Management) Act, 2022 prescribes the mode of challenging the preservation order of the court and the steps to be taken by the party challenging the making of the preservation order.”

Oyedepo submitted that one of the requirements that the application must contain is that the applicant must show his interest in the property concerned.

“Apart from Paragraph 4H and I of the affidavit in support of the notice of intention, there is nothing before this Honourable court showing, by way of credible evidence, how the properties were acquired.

“In our counter-affidavit, we have established how the properties were acquired and there is nothing challenging how the properties were acquired.

“What was deposed is that, most of the properties were obtained before he became Governor of Kogi State and the properties were not acquired through illegal means.

‘”Without establishing the interest of the applicant, the application is bound to fail.”

On the immunity clause as contained in Section 308 of the 1999 constitution, Oyedepo said: “the Provision of S308 will not and cannot be construed to a ridiculous extent of preventing the state from investigating the beneficiary of the section.

“As far back as 2002, in the case of Fawehinmi and IGP, the court mentioned that a person protected under S308 can be investigated; and the fact that someone is under immunity does not prevent the state from investigating.

“Where a state governor is reasonably suspected to have committed a financial crime, the state can investigate for evidence that will be used in prosecution when he no longer enjoys the immunity.”

Oyedepo also argued that the steps the prosecution was taking “is a step for preservation and it cannot be stopped.”

He further told the court that, out of the entire assets that the EFCC seeks to preserve, only one asset was declared in the applicant’s Declaration of Assets Form and that nothing had been said in the affidavit to challenge “the reasonability of our suspicion.”

He, therefore, urged the court to dismiss the prayers of the applicant and order him to tell the court how the properties were acquired.

Justice Oweibo adjourned the matter till April 20, 2023 for ruling.

Wilson Uwujaren

Head, Media & Publicity

28/ 03/2023

Posted: at 28-03-2023 10:05 PM (1 year ago) | Addicted Hero
- gogoman at 28-03-2023 11:23 PM (1 year ago)
Online (m)
 Roll Eyes Roll Eyes Roll Eyes
Posted: at 28-03-2023 11:23 PM (1 year ago) | Grande Master
Reply
- alexidwayne at 29-03-2023 07:22 AM (1 year ago)
(m)
Who cares
Posted: at 29-03-2023 07:22 AM (1 year ago) | Gistmaniac
Reply

fire TRENDING GISTS fire

TODAY'S TOP
  1. VID: Presidency Slams Aisha Yesufu Over Allegations Of Tinubu Being ‘Disgraced’ In South Africa

  2. VIDEO: Burna Boy’s Epic Reaction Goes Viral After He Spotted Rema In Paris

  3. VIDEO; Nigerian Man Shocked To See Robot Deliver His Food To His Hotel In China

  4. Touching Moment Bride Cries As She Search For Her Husband During Their Traditional Wedding

  5. Nnamdi Kanu Seeks Negotiation With FG Over Alleged Terrorism Charges

  6. "If Your Man Locks His Phone, Lock Your Private Part Too" - Nigerian Lady Advises Women

  7. 'Osimhen Not Banned From Super Eagles' – NFF Reveals

  8. Armed Robbers Arrested For Killing Security Guard In Jigawa


THIS WEEK
  1. Another Veteran Nollywood Actress Stella Ikwuegbu is Dead

  2. Video Of Missing Ladies, Celine And Afiba Lying Unclad On Andrew’s Bed Surfaces

  3. STEEZZZZ! Throwback Photo Of Little Davido With His Dad And 'Uncle' Aliko Dangote

  4. Man Sparks Speculation After Spotting New Photo Of Wizkid's Babymama With Protruding Stomach

  5. Reno Omokri Tackles Peter Obi Over His Criticism Of ‘New’ Presidential Jet For Tinubu

  6. Woman Who Returned To Nigeria Barely A Week Ago Dies Of Cholera Amidst Recent Outbreak In Lagos

  7. Warri Pikin Addresses Viral Photo Of Her Trending Backside After A Football Match

  8. Tragedy Strikes Kubwa Hotel: Sex Worker, Zara Tua Stabbed To Death By Clients

  9. Tinubu's Aide, Kabir Masari Releases Official Portrait Spelling His Role in The Presidency

  10. "You’re Not From The Royal Family" - Oba Of Benin Tells LP Guber Candidate, Olumide Akpata


TOP MEMBERS: