The Federal Government of Nigeria has filed a suit at the Federal High Court, Abuja, seeking an order to confiscate property belonging to the Deputy President of the Senate, Ike Ekweremadu, which were not included in the assets declaration made on the assumption of office.
The prosecution counsel, Festus Keyamo, noted that the suit relates to the matter of application by the Special Presidential Investigation Panel for the Recovery of Public Property for an order to temporarily attach/forfeit property of the respondent to the Federal Government pursuant to section 330 of the Administration of Criminal Justice Act, 2015 and section 8 of the Recovery of Public Property (Special Provisions) Act.
Keyamo in an affidavit in support of motion ex-parte, deposed to by Yohanna Shankuk, a Litigation Clerk in Festus Keyamo Chambers, hinted of information received from Mr. Okoi Obono-Obla, Chairman, Special Presidential Investigation Panel for the Recovery of Public Property, on Wednesday, March 21, 2018, at about 10:00am, “That a petition against Ekweremadu written by Hon. (Justice) A.I. Umezulike, Retired Chief Judge of Enugu State, was forwarded to the Special Presidential Investigation Panel for the Recovery of Public Property set up by the President pursuant to the Recovery of Public Property (Special Provisions) Act.”
He maintained: “That on receipt of the Petition, the Special Presidential Investigation Panel for the Recovery of Public Property commenced investigations and preliminary findings indicated that some of the properties allegedly owned by the Respondent actually belonged to him. The copies of Preliminary Reports from the American and United Kingdom property agencies are hereby attached as EXHIBITS B, C, D & E.”
Keyamo observed that from 1999 till date, Ekweremadu has been a public officer and has not earned anything outside his salaries and allowances as a public officer, acknowledging that the Respondent is the current Deputy Senate President of the Senate of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.
Keyamo further recalled that Ekweremadu was a former Chief of Staff to the Governor of Enugu State 1999 – 2002, and was also a former Secretary to the Government of Enugu State 2002 – 2003.
Keyamo also noted that Ekweremadu was elected to represent Enugu West Senatorial District in 2003 on the platform of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), and has been Deputy Senate President of the Senate of the Federal Republic of Nigeria from 2007 till date.
He pointed out that upon assumption of office in 2007, the Assets Declaration the Respondent made in 2007 does not reveal that he had acquired so much money or properties prior to that date.
Keyamo argued that “within a space of 16 years (1999 – 2015), investigation has revealed that the Deputy Senate President acquired all properties listed in Schedules A and B;” agitating that in his 2015 Assets Declaration Form before the Code of Conduct Bureau, he only declared the properties listed in Schedule A.
Keyamo stated that the Deputy Senate President failed to declare the Assets listed in Schedule B, adding that “investigations have also revealed that even the total value of the properties listed in Schedule A is far above his total earnings as a public officer in the said 16-year period.”
“It has become imperative for the government to approach the Court for an Order temporarily attaching/forfeiting the said properties listed in Schedule B to the Federal Government of Nigeria pending the conclusion of further investigations and possible arraignment of the Respondent,” Keyamo declared.
He contended that “without the orders of the Court attaching/forfeiting the said properties, the likelihood of the frustration of investigations as well as the dissipation of the said properties is very high.
“This matter is of utmost public interests and concern, to enable the government carry out a thorough investigation into the activities of the Deputy Senate President in the acquisition of the said properties as it relates to the allegation of a breach of Code of Conduct for Public Officers.”
He reiterated that the Order is necessary to enable the Panel carry out its statutory duties and functions of investigation and recovery of public properties.