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Court Nullifies Malami’s Committee On Sale Of Forfeited Assets

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A federal high court sitting in Lagos has nullified the Asset Tracing, Recovery and Management Regulations 2019 for being “an invalid statutory instrument”.

The court further nullified all sales and disposals of assets made by Abubakar Malami, attorney-general of the federation (AGF), under the Asset Tracing, Recovery and Management Regulations, 2019.

Ambrose Lewis-Allagoa, the judge, gave the order on Monday in a suit filed by the Human and Environmental Development Agenda (HEDA) against the AGF.

Malami had signed a new policy titled “Asset Tracing, Recovery and Management Regulations, 2019”, which empowers the federal government to determine procedures that anti-corruption agencies must adopt to manage recovered assets.

In November 2020, Malami set up an inter-ministerial committee for the disposal of forfeited assets, following a directive by President Muhammadu Buhari.

But HEDA, through its counsel, Omotayo Olatubosun, challenged the AGF’s power to set up the committee.

It argued that the regulations conflicted with the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) Act, Trafficking in Persons (Prohibition) Enforcement and Administrative Act, 2015, National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA) Act, 2004, and Independent Corrupt Practices Commission Act (ICPC), 2000, among others, on the matter of disposal of final forfeited assets.

The plaintiff sought nine reliefs, including the nullification of all disposals of assets by the AGF’s committee.

In its judgment, the court dismissed the AGF’s preliminary objection argued by Tolu Mokunolu, his counsel, and granted all of HEDA’s reliefs as prayed on the motion paper.

“I am entirely in agreement with the submission of counsels to the plaintiff that the Asset Tracing, Recovery, and Management Regulations, 2019 are contrary to the statutory provisions of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission EFCC Act, Trafficking in Persons Cohabitation Enforcement and Administration Act, NDLEA Act and Immigration Act,” the judge said.

“A careful perusal of the above statutory provisions will show the provisions for the Attorney-General of the Federation to make regulations for the agencies for disposal of assets under the various enactments listed above.

“The above statutory enactments are therefore the enabling source of the Attorney-General of the Federation to the regulations.

“Consequently, the administrative powers to be exercised by the Honourable Attorney-General of the Federation must flow from the enabling statutes.”

Lewis-Allagoa said the powers of the AGF do not override the provisions of the enabling statutes stabilizing the powers of the law enforcement agencies and anti-corruption agencies.

He said the powers referred to in the commencement clause of the regulations merely are to be exercised by the Acts and not to usurp the mandatory powers vested in the law enforcement agencies and the anti-corruption agencies.

“I am therefore in agreement with counsel for the plaintiff that the executive orders or any other forms of definition can be issued under session 315 of the Constitution; however, they are limited to enactments predating the 1999 Constitution,” the judge added.

“The Acts under Consideration in this instant suit were enacted after the 1999 Constitution and do not fall within the ambit of session 315 of the 1999 Constitution.

“In all and for the reasons hereinbefore given in this judgment, the questions put for determination in the originating summons are answered in favor of the plaintiff, and all the reliefs sought are granted as prayed. This is the judgment of the court read in the open court.”

The plaintiff’s reliefs granted by the judge include a declaration that by the ICPC Act, the Asset Tracing, Recovery, and Management Regulations, 2019 “is an invalid statutory instrument the former having conferred no power arrogated by the Defendant to himself in the latter Regulations;

“An Order nullifying the Asset Tracing, Recovery and Management Regulations, 2019 as an invalid statutory instrument same being over the provisions of the Independent Corrupt Practices Commission Act, 2000

“An Order nullifying all sales and disposals of assets made by the Defendant under the said Asset Tracing, Recovery, and Management Regulations, 2019 same being ultra vires the office and powers of the Defendant.”

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Ekweremadu Narrates How David, “Kidney Donor” Refused To Return To Nigeria

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The former deputy senate president, Senator Ike Ekweremadu, has explained that David Ukpo Nwamini, the would-be kidney donor of his daughter, Sonia refused to return to Nigeria after it was discovered that his kidney was not compatible with his daughter’s.

The Enugu-born federal lawmaker gave the details in a suit filed along with his wife, Beatrice, against the National Identity Management Commission (NIMC) over the controversy surrounding the real age of Nwamini.

Ike Ekweremadu and his wife were recently arrested for allegedly bringing a minor to the UK to harvest his organ. They were subsequently remanded in custody till July 7.

However, Ekweremadu had written to the UK high commission to support the visa application of a “kidney donor” for his daughter Sonia.

Although the UK police said the donor was 15, he was listed as 21 years old on his international passport and the Bank Verification Number (BVN) portal.

In a suit marked FHC/ABJ/CS/984/2022 and filed on June 27 by Adegboyega Awomolo, counsel to the senator and his wife, before Inyang Ekwo, justice of a federal high court in Abuja, the Ekweremadus prayed the court for an order directing the NIMC to supply them with the certified true copy (CTC) of Ukpo’s biodata, The Cable reported.

They also sought an order directing the NIS comptroller-general to supply the applicants with Ukpo’s documents and application form presented for the issuance of his international passport.

The suit is also seeking an order directing Stanbic IBTC Bank and UBA to supply the applicants with the certified true copy of the “mandate card and account opening package of Ukpo’s bank accounts”.

Awomolo, who gave 20 grounds why the prayers should be granted, said Ukpo offered to donate one of his kidneys to the daughter of the applicants if his kidney was compatible.

He said Ukpo informed the applicants that he was 21 years old, after which Ekweremadu supported his visa application to the United Kingdom with a letter to the British high commission in Nigeria, explaining the purpose of the visit.

“After conducting various medical tests, the Royal Free Hospital in London decided that the said David Nwamini Ukpo was not a suitable donor because his kidney is not compatible with that of Sonia Ekweremadu,” he said.

According to Awomolo, Ukpo was then asked to return to Nigeria but rather than do so, he approached the authorities in the UK, claiming he was 15 years old.

“The applicants require documents from the respondents to assist in the fair criminal investigation and as facts in their defense to establish their innocence of the allegation in the charge and to prove that David Nwamini Ukpo is not a minor and indeed consented to the medical examination in the United Kingdom,” he said.

Ekwo fixed July 1 for a hearing of the matter.

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JUST IN: Court Dismisses Kanu’s Application For Revocation Of Bail

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The Abuja division of the Federal High Court has dismissed an application by Nnamdi Kanu, the detained leader of the proscribed Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB), seeking an order discharging the earlier order revoking his bail.

Justice Binta Nyako in her ruling on Tuesday ruled that Kanu has not provided sufficient reasons to warrant the court to set aside its order.

She accordingly dismissed the application for being an abuse of the court process.

In the dismissed application which was filed by his lead counsel, Chief Mike Ozekhome, SAN, Kanu also prayed for an order setting aside the order made on March 28, 2019, directing for his arrest and continuation of his trial in absentia.

Justice Nyako had, on March 28, 2019, revoked the bail Kanu, ordered his arrest, and directed that his trial should continue in his absence.

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CJN Resignation: Public Confidence In Judiciary System At All-Time Low – Olumide Akpata

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Olumide Akpata, president of the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) has reacted to the resignation of Ibrahim Tanko Muhammad as CJN, saying public confidence in the judiciary is currently at “an all-time low”.

In the statement, Akpata thanked the retired CJN for his service to the nation and prayed for his quick recovery.

“In the course of previous publications and communications, I have consistently appreciated the outgone chief justice of Nigeria for the cordial working relationship between the bar and the bench under our respective administrations. I must do so again today as he bows out,” the statement read.

“It is however impossible, to consider his lordship’s retirement in isolation of the recent unprecedented developments at the supreme court where 14 justices of the court censured the outgone chief justice of Nigeria over his lordship’s handling of their welfare and related issues.

“Beyond this, there is near-universal agreement that public confidence in the judiciary and indeed the legal profession is at an all-time low.”

The NBA chairman added that “there is now more than ever the need for urgent reforms in the judiciary and to rebuild the almost dissipated confidence that Nigerians have in the judiciary and the wider legal profession in Nigeria”.

“These should form the immediate first tasks for honorable Mr. Justice Olukayode Ariwoola, who is expected to now take over as the acting chief justice of Nigeria,” he said.

“The NBA welcomes the appointment of honorable Mr. Justice Olukayode Ariwoola and pledges its readiness to work together with his lordship and the judiciary in cleansing the Augean Stable and addressing the ills that have continued to plague not just the Judiciary but the entire legal profession.”

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