A Federal High Court, Abuja on Monday fixed Nov. 22 for hearing two separate suits filed by former Senate President, Bukola Saraki, to restrain the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) and others from probing him and seize his assets.
Justice Anwuli Chikere fixed the date after Saraki’s counsel, Kehinde Ogunwumiju, SAN, sought to withdraw a motion filed on June 30, seeking for a stay of proceedings.
Earlier, Ogunwumiju had told the court that the matter was slated for hearing.
He, however, said that he had two applications before the court.
“We have filed a motion for stay of proceedings.
“It was filed on June 30, 2021. We seek to withdraw the motion my lord,” he said.
The lawyer said the second application filed on May 15, 2019, was for the court to rely on all further affidavits filed.
Justice Chikere, who ordered the withdrawal of the first motion after counsel representing respondents did not oppose, also adjourned the two suits until November 22 on the grounds that she was bereaved.
She directed hearing notices to be issued and served on all parties.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the EFCC had, in 2019, said it would probe Saraki’s earnings between 2003 and 2011 when he was governor of Kwara.
The commission was reported to have seized some of his houses in the Ikoyi area of Lagos then.NAN, however, reports that Saraki, on May 10, 2019, filed two separate suits marked: FHC/ABJ/CS/507/19 and FHC/ABJ/CS/508/19 respectively before Justice Taiwo Taiwo to challenge the action of the EFCC.
Other respondents in the two suits are the Attorney General of the Federation (AGF), Inspector-General of Police (IGP), State Security Service (SSS), Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission (ICPC) and Code of Conduct Bureau (CCB) as 1st, 2nd, 3rd, 5th and 6th respondents respectively.
Justice Taiwo, who was the presiding judge, ruled on an ex parte application filed along with the substantive suits and ordered the anti-corruption agency (4th respondent) and the other five respondents to the suits to stay action on the probe pending the hearing and determination of the motion on notice filed by the applicant.
The order was granted after Sunday Onubi, Saraki’s lawyer, moved the application, on May 14, 2019.
The court had directed the parties to maintain the status quo by suspending the probe.
“By the provision of Order 4(3) of the Fundamental Rights Civil Procedure Rules, 2009, the court may, if satisfied that the applicant may be caused hardship before the service of an application where liberty or life of the applicant is involved hear the application ex parte upon such interim reliefs as the justice of the application may demand.
“There is no doubt that in making the interim reliefs or orders, the court is guided even in its exercise of its discretion judicially and judiciously applied by the law and statues.
“I am of the view, after due consideration of the aforesaid, that this court ought to make the order being sought by the applicant pending the hearing and determination of the originating motion on notice,” Taiwo had ruled.
But the EFCC later applied that the judge should recuse himself and the matter be transferred to another court.
Justice Taiwo sent back the case file to the chief judge and the matter was reassigned to Justice Chikere for adjudication.
NAN reports that the EFCC had, in the last adjourned date, alleged before Chikere that the action of the former senate president was hindering the agency from probing him.
While Chioma Okongwu appeared for EFCC (4th defendant) in today’s proceeding, Ephraim Otti represented the ICPC (5th) while Ekenma Okafor advocated for CCB (6th defendant).