A Federal High Court in Abuja on Monday reversed its earlier orders freezing the accounts traced to Senator Peter Nwaoboshi and temporarily seizing his immovable assets.
The reversal was made by Justice Taiwo Taiwo while ruling on an application filed and argued by Nwobosi’s lawyer, Robert Clarke (SAN), which challenged the competence of the motion filed by the Special Presidential Investigative Panel on the Recovery of Public Property (SPIP) and on which basis the interim forfeiture orders were made.
The orders set aside the earlier interim forfeiture orders made by the court on July2, 2019, upon an ex-parte application by the SPIP.
Justice Taiwo noted in his ruling on Monday, that the SPIP was without the requisite powers to file a case against Nwaoboshi, because its establishment statute is only empowered to conduct investigation.
The judge further noted that the instant case was similar with the popular “Tumsah case,” in which the Court of Appeal held, among others, that the SPIP lacked the power to institute cases against any defendant in court.
Justice Taiwo held that there was nothing before the court to show that SPIP had issued notice to the applicant before it approached the court for the order made on July 2.
“There was also no pending trial against the applicant (Sen. Nwaoboshi) where a prima facie case has been made to warrant the forfeiture of the assets.
According to the judge, the seizure of property by law enforcement agency must always be done after the principles of fair hearing have been complied with.