Senator Peter Nwaoboshi: fights to regain seized assets in Abuja, Delta and Lagos

Sen. Peter Nwaoboshi, on Wednesday, filed a suit, seeking the Federal High Court Abuja to vacate its interim forfeiture order on his assets, including funds in four banks, granted to the Federal Government.

The Special Presidential Investigation Panel for the Recovery of Public Property (SPIP) had, on July 14, taken temporary possession of several property allegedly owned by Mr Nwaoboshi, representing Delta North Senatorial District, including accounts in Zenith, Access, UBA and Sterling Banks.

This followed an interim forfeiture order by Justice Taiwo Taiwo, on July 5, giving the lawmaker or anyone who might have owned the seized assets 30 days to convince the court why they should not be permanently forfeited to the Nigerian government.

In a motion on notice by Counsel to the senator, Mr Robbert Clarke, SAN, filed on July 11 and brought to the court’s attention on Wednesday, Nwaoboshi urged the court to set aside the ruling.

He also challenged the court’s jurisdiction to further grant audience to the SPIP in relation to his assets.

His prayers, as contained in the motion, include: ”An order setting aside and/or annulling, ex-debito justitiae (as a matter of right) the interim forfeiture and restraining orders made in this suit on the 2nd July, 2019 suit by this honourable court pursuant to the amended motion ex-parte dated the Nov. 22, 2018.

”An order indemnifying the applicant by the complainant/ respondent to the full extent of the loss and damages suffered by the applicant by reason of the said ex-parte interim forfeiture and restraining orders from the July 6 in the sum of N50million.”

The lawmaker contended that the SPIP made false claim in obtaining the orders.

”The suit said to have been filed in the name of the Federal Republic of Nigeria and purportedly by the Attorney-General of the Federation, and the ex-parte interim forfeiture and restraining orders sought and obtained therein, was so filed and obtained by the Special Presidential Investigation Panel for the Recovery of Public Property (SPIP) in the absence of any lawful authority.

”By the decision in Tumsah v. FRN (2018) 17 NWLR (Pt. 1648) 238, the SPIP lacks the competence to institute this suit and to seek and obtain the said ex-parte interim forfeiture and restraining orders, and this honourable court is thereby divested of the jurisdiction to entertain the suit and/or grant the said ex-parte orders.

”The interim forfeiture and restraining orders were obtained upon deliberate suppression and/or misrepresentation of facts and with the utmost bad faith.

”The institution of this suit and the filing of the said motion ex-parte for interim forfeiture and restraining orders constitute a grievous abuse of the judicial process,” he said.

However, Counsel to SPIP, Oluwatosin Ojaomo, on Wednesday, told Justice Taiwo that his client was yet to be served with Nwaoboshi’s motion on notice.

Another lawyer, Sylvanus Maliki, who said he represents an interested party, Mrs. Ngozi Veronica Aniezu, said he has also filed a motion.

Based on Ojaomo’s observation that he was also not served with the motion by Maliki, Justice Taiwo directed that the motions by Nwaoboshi and Maliki be served on the SPIP’s lawyer in court.

Clarke had argued that his client’s motion was earlier served on the office of the Attorney General of the Federation (AGF).

Ojaomo thereafter accepted service of the documents in the court according to the judge’s directive.

Justice Taiwo, who adjourned the matter till Aug. 19, said the decision was to give all parties the room to file all the necessary processes in the interest of justice.

The judge directed Ojaomo to ensure that he responds to all the motions served on him, particularly by Nwaoboshi, challenging the court’s jurisdiction.