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More Trouble for Ekweremadu, Court Orders Interim Forfeiture of 40 Properties Globally

HURIWA said that the forfeiture, trial and timing is a plot to sabotage the ex-deputy senate president’s bail application in the UK.

Ike Ekweremadu

While the former Deputy President of the Senate, Ike Ekweremadu and his wife, Beatrice are on trial at a London Court for alleged trafficking of a minor to the UK with the intention to harvest his organ, the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) on Friday secured a court order for the interim forfeiture of 40 landed properties of the beleaguered Senator in different parts of the world.

In a swift reaction, civil rights advocacy group, the Human Rights Writers Association of Nigeria (HURIWA), faulted the timing of the case and order, saying it was aimed at sabotaging Ekweremadu’s bail application in London.

Justice Inyang Ekwo of a Federal High Court in Abuja gave the forfeiture order following an ex-parte motion filed and moved by Ibrahim Buba on behalf of the EFCC.

In his ruling, the Judge ordered the anti-graft agency to publish the interim forfeiture order of the properties in a national daily within seven days from the date the order was given.

Justice Ekwo specifically asked anybody interested in the properties covered by the interim forfeiture order to indicate within 14 days of the publication of the interim forfeiture order of the court.
Justice Ekwo adjourned till December 5, 2022 for a report, if there is any objection from any member of the public regarding the properties.

The interim forfeiture order covers 10 Ekweremadu’s properties in Enugu, three in the United States of America (USA), two in the United Kingdom, one in Lagos, nine in Dubai and 15 located in Abuja.
By the ruling, members of the public interested in the properties covered by the interim forfeiture order should, within 14 days of the newspaper publication, inform the court why the properties should not be permanently forfeited to the federal government.

The former Deputy Senate President and his wife are currently standing trial in the United Kingdom over alleged organ harvest.

Ekweremadu and wife had pleaded not guilty to the charge claiming that the alleged victim was not a minor and voluntarily offered to donate his organ for Ekweremadu’s daughter who is currently sick in a London hospital.
Although, the court had granted Beatrice bail, it however refused to admit Ekweremadu to bail.

HURIWA: Trial, Plot to Sabotage Ekweremadu’s Bail Application in UK

Civil rights advocacy group, the Human Rights Writers Association of Nigeria (HURIWA), has faulted the interim assets forfeiture order against Ekweremadu, saying it was a concerted effort between the anti-graft agency and the London Metropolitan Police to botch Ekweremadu’s bail and keep him perpetually in detention.

Reacting to the development in a statement by its National Coordinator, Comrade Emmanuel Onwubiko, HURIWA said the asset forfeiture lawsuit at a time Ekweremadu was in custody, facing trial in the United Kingdom, and unable to defend himself or properly brief his lawyers, was malicious, immoral, in bad faith, and tantamount to a country throwing her citizen under the bus.

HURIWA stated: “We are in shock over the news of the interim assets forfeiture order against Senator Ike Ekweremadu following an application by the EFCC.

“We are particularly shocked because it is coming at a time when the Senator is fighting for his freedom, reputation, and the life of his daughter in a foreign land.

“We equally recall that the petition against Senator Ekweremadu, which he claimed was politically motivated, was lodged against him at the EFCC in 2016, but the Senator’s first brush with the anti-graft agency only came in the early hours of July 24, 2018, when operatives of the agency and a retinue of security agents laid siege to his Apo Legislative Quarters official residence without any previous invitation.

“It is instructive that security agencies also laid siege to the Maitama residence of the President of the Senate at the time, Dr. Bukola Saraki, in a simultaneous move that HURIWA and other civil society organisations rightly described as an attempt to muscle the legislature by preventing both presiding officers from plenary in order to remove them illegally from office. However, Saraki’s sudden appearance at the National Assembly botched their plan.
“We, therefore, find it discomfiting that although Ekweremadu was in Nigeria for the past six years, the EFCC suddenly found it auspicious to file assets forfeiture suits against him in July 2022 following the agency’s July 18, 2022 written assurances to the London Metropolitan Police ahead of the Senator’s bail hearing in July. That letter was tendered by the Metropolitan Police to scuttle Ekweremadu’s bail application.

“It is also instructive that this interim asset forfeiture order is again coming a few days to the pre-trial hearing of the Senator’s alleged organ harvest case in the UK rescheduled for Monday, November 7, 2022, and during which the Senator could reapply for bail.

“It is clearer why the court hearing was rescheduled from October 31 to November 7, 2022 after which the indefensible order must have been granted exparte against a man in detention contrary to cardinal principle in law that both sides should be heard.

“This development, coupled with the fact that Ekweremadu’s real trial would only begin in May 2023, leaves HURIWA with no other choice than to suspect that there is a collaborative effort between EFCC, Metropolitan Police, and UK prosecutors to scuttle Ekweremadu’s bail prospects, once again, and keep him perpetually in detention over a clearly bailable offence.

“Besides, HURIWA is also aware that the Senator had earlier won the two asset-related lawsuits between him and the Special Presidential Investigation Panel on the Recovery of Public Property (SPIP).
“We, therefore, reiterate that the EFCC’s move is malicious, immoral, ill-timed, political in appearance, and a typical case of a country throwing her citizen under the bus.

“If a country cannot help its citizen get a fair trial, why inject itself into his matter and add to his woes as the EFCC has done?”

Alex Enumah

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