Godwin Tsa, Abuja
Hearing in two separate fundamental rights enforcement suits filed by Senate President Bukola Saraki challenging the decision of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) to seize his houses has been adjourned to June 26 by the Abuja division of the Federal High Court.
Justice Taiwo .O. Taiwo had earlier granted an ex parte order restraining the EFCC, the Attorney General of the Federation (AGF), the Inspector General of Police (IGP), the State Security Services (SSS), the Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission (ICPC) and the Code of Conduct Bureau (CBB) from taking further steps in connection with the subject matter of this suit pending the hearing and determination of the originating summons.
The Commission has since petitioned the judge before the Chief Judge of the Federal High Court, Justice Abdul Kafarati, over alleged acts of misconduct.
Regardless, Justice Taiwo said he granted the motion exparte to avert a situation where the court would be faced with a situation of fait accompli.
He further explained that granting the order was in line with a settled principled of law that, once a suit was filed, all parties to it must refrain from taking any action capable of rendering the suit nugatory.
According to him, the order amounts to an order directing the parties to maintain the status quo.
He added that the law allows such an application to be granted in a situation where the applicant would likely face “hardship” between the time of serving processes in the suit on the respondents and hearing and determination of the suit.
He ruled that, “There is no doubt that the Fundamental Rights Enforcement Procedure Rules 2009 is a special proceeding with its stated rules and procedure. By the provision of Order 4(3) of the Fundamental Rights Civil Procedure Rules, 2009, the court may, if satisfied that the applicant may be caused hardship before the service of an application where liberty or life of the applicant is involved hear the application ex parte upon such interim reliefs as the justice of the application may demand.”
The judge, who made the same set of orders in the two separate suits marked FHC/ABJ/CS/507/2019 and FHC/ABJ/CS/508/2019, filed by Saraki, directed the applicant to serve the court processes on the six respondents who he also directed to file their response within five days of being served.
Meantime, when the matter came up on Thursday, counsel to the Senate President, Sunday Onubi, informed the trial judge that all parties in the suit have been served with the processes of the court, including the order of the court.
Onubi added that the EFCC has already served on him a counter affidavit, and said he needs time to respond.
The Solicitor General of the Federation, Dayo Apata, who represented the Attorney General of the Federation, Mr Abubakar Malami, SAN, has informed the court that he has filed a counter affidavit to the suits of
On his part, counsel to the EFCC, Chile Okoroma, said he has filed a counter affidavit and written address in response to the suit of the plaintiff and has served same on all parties in the matter.