- An aide to Ekweremadu, Uche Anichukwu, has stated that the investigation of the deputy Senate president over undeclared assets is a smear campaign by the ruling APC
- He said it was an effort to silence the opposition ahead of 2019, adding that the senator’s case is treated differently because the main purpose of the suit is to intimidate and embarrass him
- According to Anichukwu, proper investigation devoid of bias and witch-hunt should have required that Ekweremadu be invited to respond to the petition against him
The special adviser on media to the deputy Senate president Ike Ekweremadu, Uche Anichukwu, has described the legal wrangling between his principal and the Special Investigation Panel on Recovery of Public Property as a ‘smear campaign’ and an ‘unfolding sinister agenda informed by the politics of 2019 elections,’ Premium Times reports.
Anichukwu made his comment in a statement released on Wednesday, April 11.
NAIJ.com notes that the panel is currently investigating the Senate president over the latter’s failure to declare assets worth billions of naira, located in Nigeria, London, USA and Dubai. The Federal High Court was asked by the federal government, to freeze all undeclared assets linked to Ekweremadu.
However, Anichukwu opined that the investigation is a deliberate effort by the All Progressive Congress (APC) to prosecute members of the opposition ahead of the 2019 elections. He said the APC lawyers relied on Decree 3 of 1984, now known as the Recovery of Public Property (Special Provisions) Act, 2004, to constitute themselves into a panel and try his boss.
He stated that panel was also not inaugurated by President Muhammadu Buhari, or gazetted in any publication in the Federal Government of Nigeria Gazette. He further pointed out that the law relied upon had been overtaken by the Code of Conduct Bureau and Tribunal Act, 2004.
The statement read in part: “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 launch pad.
“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.
“Should proper investigation devoid of bias and witch-hunt not require that Ekweremadu be invited to respond to the petition, assuming the panel had the constitutional powers to dabble into matters relating to assets declaration?
“But the panel instead approached the court by way of motion ex-parte, which would allow it obtain an interim forfeiture order against the distinguished senator, without hearing him, just to achieve a maximum smear effect.
“The fact that the petition was authored by a former chief judge, who was sacked by the National Judicial Council for corruption and gross abuse of office and is currently facing corruption trial at the Federal High Court, Port Harcourt and High Court of Enugu state, was more reason his petition should have been treated with wariness.
“Also, the fact that the chairman of the panel, Okoi Ofem Obono-Obla, signed, on behalf of the attorney-general of the federation (AGF), the very letter referenced HAGF/ENUGU/2000/I and dated February 4, 2016 directing the inspector general of police to investigate Umezulike and the director of litigation over alleged forgery of a court judgment and order in Suit No. E/170/76 dated the June 25, 1985, is the more reason the panel should have been circumspect.”
He added that Senator Ekweremadu’s case is treated differently because the main purpose of the suit is to intimidate, smear, and embarrass him to give the impression that he illegally acquired and hid properties from the government.
Meanwhile, NAIJ.com previously reported that Senator Ike Ekweremadu challenged the power of the Federal High Court in Abuja over the call to grant interim ownership of his 22 properties to the federal government.
This was contained in a motion filed by his lead counsel, Chief Adegboyega Awomolo, on Tuesday, April 10.
The deputy Senate president maintained that under the 1999 Constitution, as amended, the High Court, lacked the jurisdiction “to entertain and exercise judicial powers in matter related to, connected with and arising from the Code of Conduct and Declaration of Assets.”
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