Godwin Tsa, Abuja
Deputy Senate President Ike Ekweremmadu has commenced legal moves to stop the hearing of an ex parte application filed by the Federal Government seeking a temporary forfeiture of some of his undeclared properties worth billions of naira to government.
Ekweremadu, representing Enugu West Senatorial District on the platform of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), commenced the moves yesterday through two applications filed by his counsel, Adegboyega Awomolo, SAN.
While his first application is seeking the leave of the court to be heard in the ex parte motion, the second is challenging the jurisdiction of the court to entertain the matter.
The Federal Government had told the court that, without its order attaching/forfeiting the said properties, “the likelihood of the frustration of investigations as well as the dissipation of the said properties is very high.”
It was the contention of government that the matter was of utmost public interests and concern, and as such, “an order will enable the government to carry out a thorough investigation into the activities of the respondent in the acquisition of the said properties as it relates to the allegation of a breach of Code of Conduct for Public Officers.”
The Federal Government said the interim order would lapse as soon as investigation and further inquiry by the Special Presidential Investigation Panel for the Recovery of Public Property is concluded.
In addition, the Federal Government said the respondent might face arraignment after investigations.
Festus Keyamo, SAN, had filed the ex parte application on behalf of the Special Presidential Investigation Panel for the Recovery of Public Property.
However, when the matter came up yesterday, Bala Dakum, announced appearance for the applicant (Federal Government), while Awomolo entered appearance for the respondent (Ekweremadu).
Dakum informed the court that, being an ex parte application, ordinarily, the respondent was not supposed to be in court.
He said what happened was that, while waiting for the court to fix a date for hearing of the motion, the respondent filed an application, seeking to be heard.
She adjourned the matter to April 26.
The FG’s lawyer informed the court that he had filed a counter affidavit in opposition to Ekweremmadu’s application.
On his part, Awomolo told the court that he equally filed two applications on March 26, 2018.
The 1st application filed by Awomolo is praying the court for leave to be heard in the motion exparte.
Ekweremadu said he has filed a counter affidavit to depositions countained in the FG’s exparte application.
The 2nd application wants the court to decline jurisdiction and exercise of judicial power, and consequently strike out or dismiss the motion exparte.
Specifically, Awomolo based his application on the ground that the Special panel is unknown to law.
“The body that brought that motion exparte does not exist in law. We are challenging the constitutionality of its existence” Awomolo stated.
After hearing counsel, the presiding judge, Justice Binta Nyako, severred the two applications filed by Ekweremadu, and held that the first one should be heard.