Following an ex-parte motion by the Federal Government for him to forfeit assets allegedly belonging to him within and outside the shores of the country, Deputy Senate President Ike Ekweremadu has explained that he is tackling the government in court, not primarily about ownership of the properties, most of which he said, were fictitious.
Instead, according to his spokesman, Mr. Uche Anichukwu, he is challenging impunity, smear campaign, and an unfolding sinister agenda informed by the politics of 2019 elections.
Among the properties the government wants Ekweremadu to forfeit in Abuja 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.
•Plot 66, 64 Crescent, Gwarimpa Estate, Abuja.Plot 1518, Maitama Extension, Abuja undeveloped land (purportedly valued at N10 Million);
•Plot 2882, Asokoro Extension, Abuja (purportedly valued at N13 Million);
Those in London include Flat 4 Varsity Court, Harmer Street, WIH 4NW, London; 52 Ayleston Avenue, NW6 7AB, London; and in Dubai, Room 1903, The Address Hotel, Downtown; The Address Boulevard, 3901; 2 Flats of Burij Side Boulevard (the signature); Emirate Gardens Apartment No. EGG1/1/114; Emirate Gardens Apartment No. EGG1/115; Apartment No. DFB/12/B 1204, Park Towers; Flat 3604, MAG214;
•Villa No 148, Maeen 1, The Lakes Emirates Hills.
In the USA are: 4507 Stella Street, Bellavida Estate Kissime, Florida; 2747 Club Cortile Circle, Kissime, Florida; and 2763 Club Cortile Circle, Kissime, Florida.
But Mr. Anichukwu said it was against natural justice for lawyers of the All Progressives Congress, APC, extraction to constitute themselves into a panel to try members of the opposition, relying on Decree 3 of 1984, now known as the Recovery of Public Property (Special Provisions) Act, 2004.
He noted that not only was the law already overtaken by the Code of Conduct Bureau and Tribunal Act, 2004, but that the Panel was also not Gazetted in any publication in the Federal Government of Nigeria Gazette or inaugurated by the President.
“So, considering the Senator’s ordeals since his re-emergence as the Deputy President of the Senate in 2015, and with 2019 election fast-approaching, no one needs any soothsayer to know that the FG up to something more sinister and diabolical of which the asset forfeiture lawsuit is a launchpad.
He explained: “As earlier clarified by the Senator, the list contains so many fictitious and repeated properties generated by the dismissed Chief Judge of Enugu State, Justice Innocent Umezulike, who, in his capacity as the Chief Judge of the State in 2016, colluded with his lawyer, Barrister Tagbo Ike, and some politicians, to steal and doctor his will. They then churned out petitions to many government agencies.
“Should proper investigation devoid of bias and witch-hunt not require that Ekweremadu be invited to respond to the petition, assuming the panel had the constitutional powers to dabble into matters relating to assets declaration?
“But the Panel instead approached the court by way of Motion Ex-parte, which would allow it obtain an interim forfeiture order against the Distinguished Senator, without hearing him, just to achieve a maximum smear effect.
“The fact that the petition was authored by a former Chief Judge, who was sacked by the National Judicial Council for corruption and gross abuse of office and is currently facing corruption trial at the Federal High Court, Port Harcourt and High Court of Enugu State, was more reason his petition should have been treated with wariness.
“Also, the fact that the Chairman of the Panel, Okoi Ofem Obono-Obla, signed, on behalf of the Arttorney-General of the Federation (AGF), the very letter referenced HAGF/ENUGU/2000/I and dated February 4, 2016 directing the Inspector General of Police to investigate Umezulike and the Director of Litigation over alleged forgery of a court judgment and order in Suit No. E/170/76 dated the June 25, 1985, is the more reason the Panel should have been circumspect”.
Anichukwu said simple verifiable matters were rather totally ignored, citing the Congress Estate, which he said, did not exist anywhere in Nigeria as well as the Kyami Layout plot, Abuja, which he said Ekweremadu neither accepted nor paid for as required by government’s offer letter in 2008.
He also explained that a thorough look at Ekweremadu’s assets declaration form, which the panel obtained from the Code of Conduct Bureau, could have shown that the House on Evans Enwerem Street, Apo Legislators Quarters, was declared with the plot number by which it was originally known and monetised to the Senator.
“Besides, it is on record, as recently reported by some national dailies, that the AGF had in a letter dated November 1, 2017 and signed by theSolicitor-General of the Federation, withdrawn Notices of Investigation, which Obono-Obla sent to some Judges of the Federal High Court, requesting them to fill assets declaration forms all over in clear overreach of the his purported powers.
“So, Senator Ekweremadu’s case is treated differently because the main purpose of the suit, which is another overreach by the Panel, is to intimidate, smear, and embarrass Ekweremadu to give the impression that he illegally acquired and hid properties from the government, which is clearly not the case”, Anichukwu concluded.