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Tuesday, 10 April 2018

22 houses: Why Ekweremadu’s not entitled to be heard in forfeiture suit, FG tells court

22 houses: Why Ekweremadu’s not entitled to be heard in forfeiture suit, FG tells court

Deputy Senate President Ike Ekweremadu

The Federal Government has urged the Federal High Court in Abuja not to hear the Deputy President of the Senate, Senator Ike Ekweremadu, in respect of the ex parte motion seeking an order for the interim forfeiture of his 22 houses.

The 22 houses are said to be subject of an ongoing investigation by the Okoi Obono-Obla-led Special Presidential Investigation Panel for the Recovery of Public Property.

The panel had said it was investigating Ekweremadu for breach of code of conduct for public officers by failing to declare the houses to the Code of Conduct Bureau as part of his assets.

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The SPIPRPP had on March 21, 2018 filed, on behalf of the Federal Government, an ex parte motion seeking an interim forfeiture of the 22 houses located in Nigeria and three other foreign countries pending the conclusion of the investigation of the Deputy Senate President.

But Ekweremadu, through his lawyer, Chief Adegboyega Awomolo (SAN), had on March 26, 2018 filed a motion challenging the jurisdiction of the court to hear the Federal Government’s motion and praying for an order declaring the SPIPRPP which initiated it as unconstitutional, illegal, null and void.

Since the motion filed by the Federal Government was “ex parte” and not “on notice”, Ekweremadu was not entitled to respond to it as of right.

He had to file a separate motion seeking the leave of the court to be allowed to air his objection to the motion.

The case was mentioned before Justice Binta Nyako for the first time on Tuesday.

During the proceedings, Mr. Bala Dakum, who represented Mr. Festus Keyamo (SAN), the Federal Government’s lead counsel, said he had filed an objection to Ekweremadu’s motion seeking leave to be heard.

While Ekweremadu’s lawyer, Awomolo, argued that their motion challenging the court’s jurisdiction should be heard and determined ahead of other applications pending before the court, Dakum maintained that the court ought to first resolve whether or not to grant leave to be heard to the Deputy Senate President.

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