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Demolition of Property, Subject Matter Before Court of Law, An Affront on Judiciary – Ozekhome


Chief Mike Ozekhome (SAN) Monday told a Federal High Court sitting in Abuja, that properties belonging to Ariwabai Aruera Reachout Foundation, linked to the former First Lady, Patience Jonathan, and subject matter of the court, have been demolished by agents of government, adding it was affront on the judiciary.
At the hearing of ex parte motion filed by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) for the forfeiture of the said properties, Ozekhome said the properties have been destroyed living only little remnants as carcass.
In a submission before Justice Nnamdi Dimgba, Ozekhome said the demolition of the said properties smacks of an affront and intimidation of the judiciary as the properties were already a subject matter before a Federal High Court in Abuja.
“We did not even know that they have attached a motion to forfeit the properties. But in another sister case we had they filed a counter affidavit in which they said they have filed a motion ex parte to attach properties. With that they invited us to be aware of the matter.
“And the law is that even if it is motion ex parte once the person affected has become aware of it through your own invitation then he can attack it. So, we filed a motion of preliminary objection attacking that ex parte motion on the ground that the motion ex parte was abuse of court process. Because that very subject matter that they want to attach which are the properties of Ariwabai Aruera Reach out Foundation was already the subject matter between the parties before Justice John Tsoho of Federal High Court, Abuja.
“So trying to attach properties that we are already in court to protect consistuent an abuse of court procese,” he held.
He stated further: “But while the matter was going the government of which the EFCC is a part of joined hands like witches and wizards operating in a coven went to the properties and demolished more than half, leaving only little remnants as carcases.
“Today, I brought the video, photos, newspaper reports that a matter already before you, the respondent has removed the rug under the feet of this Honourable court and that should not be entertained.
“That was why I cried out, that we are not operating oligarchy or fascism or absolutism. You can’t destroy a property that is already a subject matter before a court of law. Whether it was done by the EFCC or by the government of which the EFCC is part and parcel is immaterial.
“The implication is that they want to intimidate the judiciary by destroying the subject matter before the court. We will take steps by affidavit evidence showing all we have said attacking the photographs, the video and newspapers reports,” he added.
But the EFCC’s counsel, Benjamin Manji, denied knowledge of the destruction of the properties. He said he was not aware of Ozekhome’s allegation and pleaded for adjournment to enable him find out the situation of things.
“I’m hearing this for the first time that the houses were demolished, it is not by the EFCC. Our mandate is very clear. We need to confirm if the properties are still in existence because we can’t ask for forfeiture of properties not in existence,” he said.
Justice Dimgba cautioned the parties to shield their sword until the true position of the properties are ascertained.
“Court can’t make political or academic order. It can’t make order in vain. The court will adjourn to make inquiry or veracity of the allegation,” Dimgba held.
The court then adjourned till February 26.

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