THE Federal High Court in Abuja on Monday directed an inquiry into the alleged demolition of a property in Abuja linked to the wife of former President Goodluck Jonathan, Mrs. Patience Jonathan.
The Development Control Department of the Federal Capital Territory Administration reportedly demolished the property last week Tuesday.
But the property is said to be a subject of forfeiture proceedings initiated by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission.
Justice Nnamdi Dimgba on Monday adjourned the proceedings to enable parties to the suit to report back to the court on the alleged demolition.
The judge requested a report on the issue following the complaint by Patience’s counsel, Chief Mike Ozekhome (SAN), who said a property owned by a non-governmental organisation, A. Aruera Reachout Foundation/Women For Change and Development Initiative, the ex-First Lady’s pet project, had been demolished by an agency of the government.
But Justice Dimgba said the court could not act without first ascertaining whether or not the property in question had been destroyed.
“I will adjourn for the claim that the property has been demolished to be ascertained to enable the court to know what proper steps should be taken,” Justice Dimgba said.
He adjourned till February 26 for the report of the probe and possible hearing of the applications filed by parties.
The EFCC had filed an ex-parte application before the court for temporary forfeiture of the same property.
Ozekhome, acting for the Registered Trustees of Aruera Foundation, had filed an objection to the motion.
Earlier, during the Monday’s proceedings, Ozekhome told the court that the property which EFCC was seeking its forfeiture to the government had been demolished by an agency of the government.
He did not mention which particular government agency was responsible but expressed concern that the government had resorted to self-help instead of allowing the court to resolve issues before the court.
He flaunted some envelopes, which he said contained video recordings and pictures of the demolition.
He also produced some newspapers, which he said contained reports of the demolition.
When asked by the judge, EFCC’s counsel, Mr. Benjamin Manji, denied knowledge of the demolition.
Manji said EFCC was not aware of the development.
He added, “Our mandate is clear, it does not include demolition. We need to confirm if the property is still in existence before we can proceed with our application for temporary forfeiture.”
Ozekhome agreed that the state of the property be ascertained first before further steps could be taken on the case.
He said he would file an affidavit for the formal presentation of the video recording, pictures and newspaper publications of the demolition before the court.
The judge adjourned until February 26. – Punch
– Jan. 22 2018 @ 17:15 GMT