Noah Ebije, Kaduna
The Senator representing Delta North senatorial zone, Peter Nwaoboshi, has said that the Federal High Court in Abuja lacks jurisdiction for the interim forfeiture of his assets over non declaration violations.
Senator Nwaoboshi, speaking through his Kaduna-based lawyer, Mr Muhammad Katu, argued that the court’s order of interim forfeiture of his assets constitutes an abuse of court processes.
Senator Nwaoboshi had applied to the Federal High Court in Abuja to vacate an order of interim forfeiture of his alleged assets made on July 2.
Presiding judge Justice Taiwo Taiwo had in his ruling on an ex parte application filed by the Special Presidential Investigative Panel for the Recovery of Public Property, against the senator for non declaration of assets, issued an order for the interim forfeiture of 11 houses and 22 bank accounts linked to the Delta-North Senator.
However, in a motion on notice filed on July 5 by his counsel, Senator Nwaoboshi argued that the court’s order of interim forfeiture of his assets constitutes an abuse of court processes, adding that the court lacks jurisdiction on the matter.
According to Katu, his client had on June 8 obtained an order from the same court restraining the Chairman of the Special Presidential Investigative Panel for the Recovery of Public Property, Okoi Obono-Obla, and the Inspector General of Police, for maintainance of statusquo on the matter as at May 31, pending the final determination of the applicant’s originating motion on notice.
He wondered why the court would order for interim forfeiture of his assets despite a subsisting order for all parties to maintain status quo on the matter.
Katu further argued that the Federal Government through the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) had charged the senator before the same federal high court on the same subject matter on 13th April, 2018 with charge number FHC/ L/117C/2018, a case which he says is still pending before the Special Presidential Investigative Panel for the Recovery of Public Property.
According to Katu, prior to the granting of an order of interim forfeiture of Senator Nwaoboshi’s assets, the office of the Attorney General of the Federation, relying on a Court of Appeal decision in the case of Federal Republic of Nigeria vs Ibrahim Musa Tumsah and one other, held that the Presidential Investigative Panel for the Recovery of Public Property, does not have the power of prosecution, and, therefore, directed the panel transfer the case file to Federal Ministry of Justice for further necessary action.
He went further to explain that the directive has been complied with by the federal high court since the 12th of June.
Senator Nwaoboshi’s lawyer described the lawmaker’s judicial trial as the handiwork of his political opponents who are bent on tarnishing his rising political profile, especially in his Delta North Senatorial zone.