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N800m crime: Judge lambasts EFCC lawyer over forfeiture order

By Abdulwahab Abdulah & Jane Echewodo

Lagos—Justice  Oluwatoyin Ipaye of an Ikeja High Court yesterday took a swipe at a counsel representing the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, Mr. Babatunde Sonaiki, accusing him of committing a ‘gross professional misconduct.’

EFCC operatives
EFCC operatives

The outburst from the judge was as a result of a process allegedly filed by the EFCC lawyer which made the commission obtain a forfeiture order against an accused person and her company from another court in a case pending before Ipaye.

Hearing the charge filed by  EFCC against the business woman, Mrs Moji Yakubu, her company, Monan Trading Company and nine other persons over alleged N800 million land theft, Justice Ipaye expressed shock over the lawyer’s action to have approached another court to get the forfeiture order, while the same case was pending before her.

The commission had alleged that Moji Yakubu and her co-defendants had conspired to steal about 10 hectares of land located at Sangotedo, Lagos.

During the defendants’ formal arraignment in February this year, the judge had raised an issue on whether land could be stolen under the law and asked the EFCC counsel to address her on the matter.

While the matter was slated for ruling, the EFCC lawyer went before another judge, Justice Aishat Opesanwo to obtain a forfeiture order to temporarily seal an ongoing project by Monan Trading Co on the 10-hectare land.

When the matter came up yesterday, Justice Ipaye told both parties that the ruling was not ready and that the matter would be adjourned till September.

Counsel to the defendant, Mr Yemi Adeshina however drew the attention of the judge to the forfeiture order allegedly obtained by the EFCC against his client.

He told the court that the order amounted to “window shopping” by the EFCC and should be immediately set aside.

The judge  then blasted Shonoiki for going to another court to obtain the order when the matter was still pending before her court.

Justice Ipaye noted that it appeared that the EFCC was poised on taking the law into its hand by such ‘window shopping’

Ipaye noted the action of the EFCC lawyer was in bad taste and capable of giving the commission a bad name.

In a shot ruling Justice Ipaye said she would institute a disciplinary action against the EFCC lawyer before the appropriate authority.

She subsequently adjourned the matter till September 14, 2016 for ruling on the defendant’s application to set aside the forfeiture order and on whether land could be stolen as contained in the EFCC charge.


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