The Federal High Court in Abuja has warned a company, Wishwich Koncept Limited, against selling an Abuja mansion which is a subject of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission’s ongoing investigation of allegations of funds diversion and money laundering levelled against a former governor of Akwa Ibom State, Godswill Akpabio.
The judge, Justice Nnamdi Dimgba, gave the warning in his ruling delivered on March 12, 2018.
A copy of the ruling was sighted by our correspondent on Sunday.
The judge had on June 21, 2017, granted an ex parte order permitting the EFCC to seize the house for 60 days.
The EFCC alleged that the property at Plot 2727A, Cadastral Zone, Maitama District, Abuja, was purchased with N470m said to be part of funds diverted from the Akwa Ibom State Government’s account on Akpabio’s directive in 2014.
It said it was investigating Akpabio, the incumbent Minority Leader of the Senate, for diversion of public funds and money laundering.
But the court, in the later ruling delivered on March 12, 2018, upheld Wishwich’s preliminary objection to the EFCC’s fresh ex parte application for forfeiture of the said property.
The judge dismissed the EFCC’s ex parte application on the grounds of the failure of the EFCC to offer any explanation about what it did with the previous forfeiture order granted by the court and why the charges had yet to be filed against Akpabio and other suspects since June 21, 2017, when the initial order was granted.
But the judge rejected the contention by Wishwich’s lawyer, Mr. Kehinde Ogunwumiju (SAN), who had argued that section 29 of the EFCC Act under which the EFCC’s ex parte application was filed, had been struck out by the Court of Appeal in the case of Nwaigwe v. F.R.N. (2009) for being constitutionally invalid.
In dismissing Ogunwumiju’s contention, Justice Dimgba cited a later decision of the Court of Appeal in Esai Dangabar v. FRN (2014) case, upholding the constitutional validity of section 29 of the EFCC Act.