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