Ikenga Imo Ugochinyere and Kenneth Udeze, who are plintiffs in the suit challenging the legality of the Executive Order No. 6 of 2018, dismissed last week by a Federal High Court in Abuja, have gone on appeal.
Ugochiyere is the National Chairman of the Action People’s Party (APP), while Udeze is the National Chairman of the Action Alliance.
The Executive Order 6 (EO6), signed into law recently by President Muhammadu Buhari for the preservation of assets connected with corruption and other related offences from being dispised, is meant to prevent politically exposed persons, who are linked to corruption from preventing the course of justice.
The plaintiffs, who are both lawyers, are praying the appellate court to set aside the judgment of Justice Ijeoma Ojukwu delivered on October 11, 2018.
Justice Ojukwu, who dismissed the suit, held in her judgment that it was within the powers of the President, as granted by the Constitution, to issue Executive Orders for the execution of executive policies, as long as such orders do not offend the doctrine of separation of powers.
The trial judge, who held that the Order which empowers the Attorney General of the Federation (AGF) and Minister of Justice to take steps, in liaison with relevant investigative agencies, to temporarily seize property linked with corruption pending investigation and conclusion of trial to prevent the dissipation of such assets, however noted that the power must be exercised in accordance with the provisions of the Constitution.
The judge held that the AGF must, at all times, obtain a court order before seizing any asset and added that, such application for the court’s permission to seize any suspected asset could be made ex-parte and held that the Order did not violate the rights of citizens to own property, but was informed by the President’s willingness to preserve suspected property from being dissipated.
But, the plaintiffs in a motion of injunction pending appeal, want an order of the court restraining the President and AGF or any of their agents from enforcing, executing or any other manner whatsoever giving effect to the Presidential Executive Order No 6, pending the determination of their appeal filed on Monday at the Abuja Division of the Court of Appeal against the judgment of the trial court.
The plaintiffs, in the appeal, which was hinged on four grounds said the decision of the trial court was a clear violation and encroachment upon the rights of the citizen and the constitution and that citizens are entitled to be accorded fair hearing before they can be made to suffer any legal disability as a result of any allegation or charge.
They held in their notice of appeal that Justice Ojukwu misinterpreted Section 5 of the 1999 constitution upon which the President derived the power to make Executive Order No. 6 of 2018 which is only for the execution and maintenance of the constitution and all laws made by the National Assembly and not to turn the executive into a law making organ.
According to the notice of appeal, the trial judge erred in law and thereby occasioned a miscarriage of justice when she found that the Executive Order No. 6 of 2018 did not violate the rights of citizens to own property.
The plaintiffs also contended that judge erred in law also when she unilaterally varied and modified the express terms of Executive Order No. 6 by issuing judicial caution, that the powers of the AGF must be exercised in accordance with the provisions of the constitution, instead of nullifying the Executive Order.
They argued that the lower court does not have the powers to issue advisory opinion on what the law ought to be as in the present circumstances and added that the Executive Order 6 violates the doctrine of separation of powers and all tenets of the constitutional democracy.
The appellants noted that the trial judge shut her eyes against the materials placed before the court and deliberately failed and/or refused to make specific findings of fact on the issue they submitted before the court, in view of the fact that, “none of the persons listed at the First Schedule of the said Presidential Executive Order No. 6 of 2018 have been found guilty as charged, as their respective trials are still ongoing in various courts in Nigeria”.
While saying that the judgment of the lower court was against the weight of evidence, the appellants want the court of Appeal to set aside the judgement and allow their relief sought in their Originating Summons filed on July 13, 2018.