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Assets Forfeiture: How list of Ekweremadu’s properties was allegedly obtained

Embattled Senator Ekweremadu

  More revelations are beginning to emerge over how the federal government obtained details of plum properties belonging to the embattled former Deputy Senate President Ike Ekweremadu.

Law & Society Magazine checks gathered that a few years ago, the then Chief Judge of Enugu State Hon. Justice Innocent Umezulike was embattled, with petitions against him for receiving money from a litigant in his court during his book launch. Ekweremadu’s partner was the petitioner.

The Chief Judge accused Ekweremadu of being behind the petition. He denied it and said he had no control over his partner since he was no longer in practice.

On a certain day, there was a burglary at the Probate Division of the Enugu State High Court. Workers came in the morning to discover that the safe had been broken into and Wills scattered all over the place but nothing significant removed.

Not too long after, a senior lawyer wrote a petition against Senator Ekweremadu alleging corrupt enrichment and listing out all his properties as at 2015, asking the EFCC to investigate the source by which he acquired the properties.

These were the properties listed in Ekweremadu’s Will, some of which were not registered in his name but listed in his Will.

How did the senior lawyer/petitioner know about Ekweremadu’s property listed in Ekweremadu’s Will, if not for “the break-in” which scattered his Will among others all over the floor of probate? Did they photocopy it?

Or was Ekweremadu’s Will the focus of the break-in?

Ekweremadu accused the senior lawyer and the Chief Judge of obtaining the information from his Will and furnishing the EFCC with that information. They denied it.

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The petition against Chief Judge Umezulike eventually led to his premature retirement as Chief Judge. That Chief Judge is now deceased, and the senior lawyer has been battling for his health for years now.

And the petition against Ekweremadu containing a list of all his properties as of 2015 is the source of his current woes.

An 11 April 2018 report by Kemi Busari titled: Attempt to seize my boss’ many properties ‘witch-hunt’ — Ekweremadu’s aide, published by Premium Times gives some insight into the Former Senate President’s problems.  

“The legal wrangling between the Deputy Senate President, Ike Ekweremadu, and the Special Investigation Panel on Recovery of Public Property is only a ‘smear campaign’ and an ‘unfolding sinister agenda informed by the politics of 2019 elections,’ an aide to the senator has said.

“Mr Ekweremadu is being investigated by the panel for failing to declare his asset comprising mostly of lands and buildings located in Nigeria, Dubai, London and the United States, amounting to billions of Naira.

“The federal government last month asked the Federal High Court in Abuja to freeze all undeclared assets traced to the senator.

“In order to prevent the forfeiture, Mr Ekweremadu’s lawyer, Adegboyega Awomolo, on Tuesday asked the same court to stop the government from temporarily seizing the asset.

“The Special Adviser (Media) to Mr Ekweremadu, Uche Anichukwu, said the investigation was not about ownership of properties, but a deliberate effort by the All Progressive Congress (APC) to prosecute members of the opposition ahead of the 2019 polls.

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“Mr. Anichukwu in a statement on Wednesday alleged that APC lawyers constituted themselves into a panel to try his boss relying on Decree 3 of 1984, now known as the Recovery of Public Property (Special Provisions) Act, 2004.

“He said not only was the law already overtaken by the Code of Conduct Bureau and Tribunal Act, 2004, but the panel was also not gazetted in any publication in the Federal Government of Nigeria Gazette or inaugurated by the President.

“The statement quoted him as saying, ‘so, considering the Senator’s ordeals since his re-emergence as the Deputy President of the Senate in 2015, and with 2019 election fast-approaching, no one needs any soothsayer to know that the FG is up to something more sinister and diabolical of which the asset forfeiture lawsuit is a launchpad.

‘As earlier clarified by the Senator, the list contains so many fictitious and repeated properties generated by the dismissed Chief Judge of Enugu State, Justice Innocent Umezulike, who, in his capacity as the Chief Judge of the State in 2016, colluded with his lawyer, Barrister Tagbo Ike, and some politicians, to steal and doctor his will. They then churned out petitions to many government agencies.’”

 First PUBLISHED IN LAW AND SOCIETY MAGAZINE

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