The umbrella Igbo socio-cultural organization, Ohanaeze Ndigbo has commended the Federal High Court, Abuja, for vacating the interim order which sanctioned the forfeiture of 40 properties belonging to the former Deputy Senate President, Senator Professor Ike Ekweremadu, to the Federal Government.
The Trial Justice, Inyang Ekwo, in vacating the interim order, berated the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) for the role it played in the continued detention of Ekweremadu in the United Kingdom, saying no Nigerian should be made to pass through such ordeal whether at home or abroad.
It will be recalled that Justice Ekwo had in November 2022, given the interim order based on the facts brought before it by the EFCC.
But in the current ruling, Justice Ekwo accused the EFCC of suppressing material facts before the court, and thus misdirecting the court.
The Justice held: “It is not hard to reason that the essence of the application for interim forfeiture by the respondent (EFCC) is to give credence to the letter of July 18, 2022 to the Crown Prosecution Service and to give them further reason for continued custody of Senator Ekweremadu in the United Kingdom”.
The Ohanaeze Ndigbo salutes the courage of Justice Ekwo in reversing himself based on clear facts adduced by Ekweremadu`s lawyers before the court. It beats imagination that EFCC would desperately rush to court with false and distorted facts to secure a ruling against the former Deputy Senate President who is being unjustly held in the UK prison custody when it (EFCC) knew he was not in a position to defend himself.
Lamenting the action of the EFCC, the trial Justice stated as follows:
“I have been asking myself the question repeatedly: how can a citizen of Nigeria who is incarcerated outside the country to the knowledge of the respondent (EFCC), be expected to show cause in an action in Nigeria brought by the respondent?
“In other words, how do you help to tie down a man and initiate a fight and demand that the same man you have helped to tie down must defend himself?
“This, in my opinion, is an unconscionable act. The act of the respondent clearly shows that this action was brought in bad faith”.
The Ohanaeze Ndigbo condemns in no mistaken terms the action of the EFCC which portrays it as a partisan tool in the hands of some highly placed people to fight imaginary or real enemies.
Ohanaeze stands on a firm wicket to state that it will not augur well for our country if the state institutions like the EFCC are being wilfully deployed to serve narrow and partisan interests. We counsel the EFCC to ensure that at all times its actions are guided by time-honoured principles of equity and fairness.
Ohanaeze Ndigbo is vindicated on its earlier position that there are several corruption cases in the EFCC but the haste, indiscretion, bias, media trial and callousness with which the agency of the Federal Government has chosen to backstab a Nigerian citizen is counterintuitive and an indelible adverse image on the country.
Dr. Chiedozie Alex Ogbonnia
National Publicity Secretary, Ohanaeze Ndigbo Worldwide.