The Federal High Court Abuja, on Thursday, restated its earlier order over plans by the EFCC and the Attorney-General of the Federation (AGF), to confiscate the assets and property belonging to the immediate-past Gov. Abdulazeez Yari of Zamfara.
News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that Justice Nkeonye Maha had, in a ruling in an ex-parte application for interim injunctions brought by Yari’s Counsel, Mahmud Magaji, SAN, on Aug. 30, ordered the parties to respect the status quo pending the determination of the substantive suit,
At the resumed hearing on Thursday, Justice Maha, who restated the order, adjourned the matter till Sept. 30 for further hearing.
NAN reports that Yari, through his lawyer, had urged the court to restrain the EFCC and AGF from interfering with his enjoyment of the rights enshrined in Sections 34, 35, 37, 41 and 43 of the Constitution.
Justice Maha had, on Aug. 26, summoned the AGF and the EFCC to appear before it over plans to seize the ex-governor’s property.
The judge, who gave the order after listening to the arguments canvassed by Magaji, adjourned the matter until Aug. 30.
Yari, in the motion ex parte marked FHC/ABJ/CS/948/2019, said the application was brought pursuant to Section 46(1) and (3) of the 1999 Constitution and Order 4 Rule 3 and 4, of the Fundamental Rights (Enforcement Procedure) Rules 2009.
NAN reports that the AGF, who is also the Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami, is the 1st respondent while the EFCC is the 2nd respondent in the suit.
The former governor had attributed his travails in the hands of the respondents to the fallout of the 2019 elections in the state.
He described the actions of the respondents against him as politically motivated to witch-hunt him.
Yari in a 17-paragraph affidavit in support of his motion, further stated that “the 1st and 2nd respondents are determined on a follow up attack upon him and his family by the use of allegations of wrongdoing which had been concocted against him in 2019 as an excuse to arrest him and his wife and to arraign them on trumped up charges.”
The affidavit, deposed to by Malam Affis Matanmi, traced the genesis of the case against Yari to the political events within the Zamfara chapter of the All Progressives Congress (APC) that eventually led to the party losing out the leadership of the state to the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) by the judgment of the Supreme Court.
It read: “that after the decision of the Supreme Court, some aggrieved individuals who are very powerful decided to use agents of the 1st and 2nd respondents against the applicant.
“These individuals thus decided to carry out a vendetta and revenge against the applicant including instigating the respondents against the applicant upon their spurious conclusion without evidence that he was guilty of corrupt practices as former governor of Zamfara and was in breach of the Code of Conduct Act.
“This witch-hunt, is clearly politically motivated, baseless, and has been designed only to discredit and humiliate the applicant in a bid to decimate him politically.
“That the agents of the 2nd respondents invaded the applicant private residence without court order in Talata Marafa, off Sokoto road, Zamfara and nothing incriminating was ever found against the applicant despite the several investigations carried out by the respondents.”
Magaji further informed the court that his client’s residence in Talafa Marafa, off Sokoto road, Zamfara, was on Aug. 5 invaded by the EFCC for five hours without any court order, in its bid to effect his arrest.
He said that during the said invasion, the “agents forcefully did not allow the family members of the applicant who was away in Saudi Arabia for Haji, to go out and come in from the residence.
“The action of the EFCC has made it impossible for applicant to exercise his right or his freedom of movement without fear of being arrested and intimidated by commission,” he said.
The lawyer further stated that Yari had dully declared all his assets in accordance with the Code of Conduct for public officers prior to assuming office as a governor and that he had not committed any offence to warrant the threats of seizure of his assets and property most of which were acquired even before he became governor of the state.
According to him, in the motion exparte dated and filed Aug. 20, the former governor sought, among others: “an order of interim injunction restraining the respondents from seizing, impounding, taking over, confiscating or otherwise forfeiting his assets and property wherever they may be located within Nigeria or anywhere in the world.
“An order of interim injunction restraining the respondents from unlawfully interfering with his rights to sections 34, 35, 41 and 43 of the 1999 constitution until the hearing and determination of the substantive suit.
“An order of interim injunction restraining the agents of the respondents from freezing his bank accounts in Nigeria and or confiscating his immovable property anywhere in Nigeria pending the hearing and determination of the substantive suit.”
Justice Maha had given the order that the respondents should come and show cause why they would not be restrained from, among other actions, freezing the bank accounts and or confiscating Yari’s immovable property anywhere in Nigeria pending the hearing and determination of the substantive suit.
Meanwhile, on Thursday, the EFCC’s Counsel, Hussaina Gambo, told the judge that she was in the process of filing another affidavit in support of her argument.
On his part, Magaji said: “We will do the needful as soon as we are served.”
Justice Maha, therefore, granted the application made by the prosecution (EFCC) counsel and adjourned the matter till Sept. 30.
The judge said since the fiat the Chief Judge issued to the court to sit during vacation would be expiring on Sept. 13, the matter should be returned to the registry of the court for reassignment.
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