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Tuesday, June 13, 2017

The Sun files suit against EFCC invasion

The Sun Publishing Limited has asked the Abuja division of the Court of Appeal for an order restraining the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) or its agents, servants, officers or anybody howsoever from further attempting to seal off its premises pending the hearing and determination of its appeal before the court.

The action was sequel to Monday invasion of the corporate Head office of the company by operatives of the anti-graft agency‎. ‎In a motion on notice dated and filed June 12, 2017, the company accused the EFCC of resorting to self-help by attempting to enforce an interim forfeiture order, which has been appealed upon.

The motion which was filed by counsel to the company, Chief Chris Uche (SAN) further drew the attention of the court to a pending motion for stay of execution of the ex-parte interim order of forfeiture. ‎The motion which was brought pursuant to order 4, rule 6 of the Court of Appeal rules, 2016 is seeking for an order of interlocutory injunction restraining the respondent ( the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), either by themselves, their agents, officers, servants, privies or anybody howsoever described from enforcing or attempting to enforce, or purporting to enforce, the ex parte interim order of forfeiture made by Justice Anwuri Chikere of the Federal High Court, Ab‎uja in suit No. FHC/ABJ/M/462/07 made on July 2007 adversely affecting and against the appellant/applicant, pending the hearing and determination of the appeal.

The appellant had filed an appeal against the decision of Justice Chikere, which is still pending before the Court of Appeal. In addition, the appellant also filed a motion for stay of execution of the ex-parte interim order made by the Federal High Court, adversely affecting the appellant/applicant, which appeal is also pending before the appellate court. The publishing outfit has since filed her brief of arguments in this appeal and ready to prosecute the appeal, but the respondent who is out of time, he filed a motion for extension of time, which is yet to be taken, and which has delayed the hearing of the appeal.

Counsel to the appellant, Chief Chris Uche (SAN) has accused the EFCC of reporting to self-help‎ by attempting to enforce the interim order by trying to seal off the appellant/ applicant’s office premises. He told ‎the Court of Appeal in his motion that the resort to self-help by the EFCC will render the appeal nugatory and will amount to undue interference with the subject matter in litigation be the court. He submitted that as a mark of respect to the court of law, and respect for the rule of law, parties ought to stay every action in respect of the subject matter in litigation. In a 20 paragraphs supporting affidavit deposed by Alexander Ebute, the applicant traced the history of the case with respect to the ex-parte originating summons filed by the EFCC and dated July 20, 2007 .

The said originating summons sought inter alia an order of the Federal High Court ‎temporarily forfeiting the assets of Dr. Orji Uzor Kalu, the former governor of Abia State. The appellant averred that it is a dully registered publishing company in Nigeria having a distinct legal personality, and is not an asset of Dr. Orji Uzor Kalu, and was not subject nor suspect of any investigation, and an accused person with any charge pending against her, and was not made a party to the proceedings before the said Federal High Court. That Justice Chikere granted the interim order sought by the EFCC on July 24, 2007 without any notice to the appellant or any investigation or charge pending against the appellant.

The depodent further averred in the supporting affidavit that being dissatisfied with the decision of the trial judge refusing to discharge the said ex-parte order affecting a third party, promptly filed a notice of appeal dated and filed on July 4, 2008. ‎Ebute further averred that the appellant also filed a stay of execution of the interim order of forfeiture before the Court of Appeal. That the Court of Appeal has fixed hearing of the appeal for Wednesday, July 14, 2017.

That unfortunately, despite the pendency of this appeal, and the above said motions, the EFCC is seeking to resort to self-help in this matter to enforce the interim order, the subject matter of this appeal.

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