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Guinea House: Nwaoboshi, others appeal Justice Anka’s ex-parte order

By Innocent Anaba

Senator Peter Nwaoboshi and two companies have asked the Court of Appeal sitting in Lagos,  to upturn the ruling on the ex-parte order delivered by Justice Abdulazeez Anka of a Federal High Court, Lagos.

The lower court had declined to discharge an ex-parte order allegedly made by the court to preserve a contentious property, Guinea House, situated on 29 Marine Road, Apapa, Lagos.

The lower court  in its ruling had refused to discharge the ex-parte order granted at the instance of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, which perpetually put the contentious property, Guinea House under investigation.

Peter Nwaoboshi

The trial judge had ruled that the ex-parte order was necessary to preserve the property until the substantive matter was finally disposed of notwithstanding a pending suit challenging EFCC’s alleged unconstitutional pasting of the ‘under investigation’ notice on the property.

The lower court held that there was no basis for an arrest and a search to be conducted on the property before any forfeiture of assets’ application would be considered.

Dissatisfied, Senator Nwaoboshi and the firms headed for the Court of Appeal, contending that the order was a miscarriage of justice.

In the appeal, the trio are contending that Justice Anka did not only err in law but misdirected himself when he dismissed their application which sought a discharge of the ex-parte order placed in perpetuity on Guinea House located at 29 Marine Road, Apapa, despite a subsisting suit challenging the EFCC’s ‘under investigation’ notice on the property.

According to the appellants, even though the EFCC did not place any cogent material before Justice Anka to indicate that any of the appellants would be prosecuted, the order ex-parte was not discharged by the judge.

The appellants are asking the Court of Appeal to hold, among others, that Justice Anka did not only err in law but misdirected himself when he ruled that the suppression of the pendency of suit No. FHC/ABS/CS/28/2017 by the respondent was not material to warrant an order granted.

They told the Court of Appeal that Justice Anka also erred in law when he held that the respondent in instituting suit No. FHC/L/CS/584/17 despite the pending of suit No. FHC/ASB/CS/28/2017 did not occasion an abuse of court process.

The appellants said that notwithstanding the fact that the judge found that the respondent had filed suit No. FHC/ASB/CS/28/2017, wherein the 2nd appellant, GTCPL and another person as claimants, challenged the propriety of the pasting of the notice ‘under investigation’ by the EFCC, Justice Anka refused to discharge the ex-parte order.

Senator Nwaoboshi and the two firms said since the cause of action in two pending suits were similar, even if judgment was in EFCC’s favour, there would not have been a need for suit FHC/L/CS/584/17 as declared in UBA.v. Mode Nig. Ltd. (2001) 13 NWLR (Pt.730) 335.

The appellants said:  “In suit No. FHC/L/CS/584/17, the EFCC surreptitiously obtained an ex-parte order of the lower court to ‘authenticate’ its already challenged action of pasting the ‘under investigation’ notice on the property.”

They asked the Court of Appeal to invalidate Justice Anka’s ex-parte order granted on October 4 and uphold their motion dated May 16 and discharge the ex-parte order dated April 24 granted by the lower court.

No date has been fixed for hearing of the appeal.

“The judge erred in law when he held that the suppression of the pendency of suit No. FHC/ASB/CS/28/2017 by the respondent was not material to warrant an order granted.

“The judge erred in law and misdirected himself when he held that the ex-parte order was to preserve the res. The res allegedly sought to be protected is the property known as Guinea House situate at 29 Marine Road, Apapa, Lagos, an immovable property formerly belonging to the 2nd appellant and later sold to Suiming Electrical Limited. The landed property in question cannot be moved out of jurisdiction or dissipated by the appellants.

“The ex-parte forfeiture order granted by the lower court was unconstitutional as it was stated to be pending the investigation and prosecution of the appellants. The appellants may likely never be prosecuted, therefore, the property will be forfeited in perpetuity.”

They asked the Court of Appeal to invalidate Justice Anka’s ex-parte order granted on October 4 and uphold their motion dated May 16 and discharge the ex-parte order dated April 24 granted by the lower court.

No date has been fixed for hearing.

 


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