Justice Olukayode Adeniyi of the Federal Capital Territory, FCT, High Court, Maitama, Abuja has reversed an order he gave directing the Senior Registrar of the Court, to release the international passport of Edidiong Idiong to him, “to enable him undertake his proposed overseas trips”.
Idiong is being investigated by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, for an alleged N2 billion fraud involving the Office of the National Security Adviser, ONSA, under Col. Sambo Dasuki (retd), then National Security Adviser.
He was to be arraigned on an 11-count charge bordering on money laundering offence. He allegedly received the said sum from the ONSA using his companies – Moortown Global Investment Limited and African Cable Television Limited.
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While the matter was under investigation, however, Justice M.A. Nasir granted Idiong bail with the condition that his international passport be deposited with the Court. But, after the charges were filed by the EFCC, and vacation of judicial workers began, Idiong, on July 12, 2016 through his counsel, filed the motion seeking for the release of his passport.
On July 19, 2016 Justice Adeniyi, a vacation judge, in the absence of the prosecution, heard Idiong’s application and granted it.
The EFCC, subsequently petitioned the Chief Judge of the FCT High Court. The anti-graft agency argued that “the said application was yet to be heard, when the Commission received an order ex parte purportedly issued in chambers by Honourable Justice Adeniyi on oral application of the suspect’s counsel” directing that Idiong’s passport be released to him “forthwith to enable him undertake overseas trips”.
Following the petition, on July 26, 2016 Justice Adeniyi reversed his earlier order for the release of Idiong’s passport.
The trial judge averred that: “It is trite that a Court has inherent powers to vacate or set aside its own orders or judgement in legally accepted circumstances, part of which where the order on its face is a nullity.”
According to the trial judge, “the entire proceedings of the said July 19, 2016 with respect to the said application, together with the ruling delivered by this Court on the same date are hereby set aside”
Meanwhile, Justice Nnamdi Dimgba of the Federal High Court, Abuja has ruled that the temporary order of attachment granted in relation to some identified assets of the Ekiti State Governor, Ayo Fayose, is not in violation of Section 308 of the constitution.
The judge said the intention of the immunity clause granted to some public office holders is not to shield them from investigation by security agencies for the purpose of obtaining evidence for future uses.
His words: “It is my considered opinion that the order of court, made on July 20, 2016 in respect of some property of the applicant, and within the limited scope and duration within which it was obtained, was duly procured and does not offend the provision of the Constitution referred to,” Dimgba said.
The judge gave the ruling on August 2, 2016, on an application by Fayose, whose lawyer Mike Ozekhome (SAN), had sought to vacate the order of interim attachment granted by the court on July 20 to the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC.
The order was in relation to the EFCC’s investigation of some activities of the governor and some of his associates.
The affected properties to which the order relate, include four sets of four-bedroom apartments at Chalets 3, 4, 6 and 9, Plot 100, Tiaminu Savage, Victoria Island, Lagos, 44 Osun Crescent, Maitama, Abuja and Plot 1504 Yedzeram Street, Maitama Abuja.
The EFCC had while seeking the order, stated in an affidavit accompanying its motion ex-parte that the properties were acquired through proceeds of fraud, which Fayose allegedly got through kickbacks from contractors and other alleged fraud.
It stated that the funds used for the purchase of the properties were said to be drawn from the sum of N1, 219,490,000, which was said to be part of the N4,745,000,000, allegedly stolen from the treasury of the Federal Government through the Office of the National Security Adviser.
Ozekhome, who in his application filed on notice on July 21, hinged his request for the court to set aside the order of interim forfeiture on 10 grounds, argued that the court lacked jurisdiction to entertain and/or proceed to grant the interim order.
He contended that in view of the immunity enjoyed by Fayose as sitting governor by virtue of the provision of Section 308 of the Constitution, he (Fayose) “cannot be proceeded against in a court of law”.
But Justice Dimgba upheld the argument of EFCC lawyer, Andrew Akoja, to the effect that the July 20 order was validly made.