Court voids power of Obono-obla’s panel to pros­e­cute, seize prop­erty

The Guardian (Nigeria) - - FRONT PAGE - From Brid­get Chiedu Onochie, Abuja

THE Court of Ap­peal, Abuja, yes­ter­day held that the Chief Okoi Obono-Obla-led Pres­i­den­tial Panel on As­sets Re­cov­ery lacked power to pros­e­cute and, as such, can­not ini­ti­ate crim­i­nal pro­ceed­ings against any ac­cused per­son.

It also held that the panel lacked the power to seize prop­erty of al­leged of­fend­ers.

The judge­ment fol­lowed an ap­peal filed by a staff of the Fed­eral Min­istry of Power, Works and Hous­ing, Ti­jani Tum­sah, through his coun­sel, Ke­hinde Ogun­wu­miju (SAN).

The panel had ap­proached the High Court and ob­tained an or­der to seize the prop­er­ties of the Tum­sah broth­ers, Ti­jani and Ibrahim.

Not sat­is­fied, the for­mer had gone to the ap­pel­late court, chal­leng­ing the pros­e­cu­to­rial power of the panel.

Aside the Tum­sah broth­ers, the panel had also filed a charge against the deputy se­nate pres­i­dent, Ike Ek­w­ere­madu, Sen­a­tors Hope Uzod­inma and Stella Od­uah.

The five-man panel of the court led by Jus­tice Hus­sein Muhk­tar, in a unan­i­mous judge­ment de­liv­ered at past 6pm, held that the panel, ac­cord­ing to the Act that es­tab­lished it, lacked power to pros­e­cute any of­fender.

The court main­tained that the pow­ers of the panel were lim­ited to in­ves­ti­ga­tion.

In the ap­peal, Ogun­wu­miju had asked the court to de­ter­mine whether the suit cul­mi­nat­ing in the for­fei­ture or­der against him was validly in­sti­tuted by the panel be­fore the court.

The ap­pel­lant also asked the court to de­ter­mine whether or not the panel could validly rely on the Eco­nomic and Fi­nan­cial Crimes Com­mis­sion (EFCC) Act to ob­tain the freez­ing or­der granted by the lower court on De­cem­ber 6, 2017.

Also, the ap­pel­lant asked the court to de­ter­mine whether or not the lower court was right when it re­fused to set aside its in­terim freez­ing or­der of De­cem­ber 6, 2016.

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