Human Rights Writers Association of Nigeria (HURIWA), has criticized the decision of the EFCC’s decision to temporarily confiscate 40 properties owned by former Senate Deputy President Senator Ike Ekweremadu.
This was contained in a statement issued in Friday by the HURIWA’s National Coordinator, Emmanuel Onwubiko, sequel to a ruling of Justice Inyang Ekwo of the Abuja Division of the Federal High Court delivered on Friday.
Recalls that the Senator Ekweremadu and his wife Beatrice are currently facing trial at a London Court over allegations bordering on trafficking of a minor to the UK with the intention to harvest the minor’s organ.
The judge refused to grant Ekweremadu bail because of the seriousness of the crime of organ harvesting in the United Kingdom and the fact that it carries a prison sentence in that country.
The federal government of Nigeria filed an ex-parte application designated FHC/ABJ/CS/1242/2022 for an order for the temporary confiscation of 40 landed properties owned by the former Deputy Senate President while Ekweremadu was being held in detention in the UK.
The Anti-Corruption Agency must publish the interim forfeiture order of the properties in a national daily within seven days of the day the order was made, Justice Ekwo had ruled.
In response, HURIWA stated that the asset forfeiture lawsuit was “malicious, immoral, in bad faith, and tantamount to a country throwing her citizen under the bus” at a time when Ekweremadu was in custody, facing trial in the United Kingdom, and unable to defend himself or adequately brief his attorneys.
The statement read, “We are in shock over the news of the interim assets forfeiture order against Senator Ike Ekweremadu following an application by the EFCC.
“We are particularly shocked because it is coming at a time the Senator is fighting for his freedom, reputation, and the life of his daughter in a foreign land.
“We therefore find it discomfiting that although Ekweremadu was in Nigeria for the past six years, the EFCC suddenly found it auspicious to file assets forfeiture suits against him in July 2022 following the agency’s July 18, 2022 written assurances to the London Metropolitan Police ahead of the Senator’s bail hearing in July. That letter was tendered by the Metropolitan Police to scuttle Ekweremadu’s bail application.
“It is also instructive that this interim asset forfeiture order is again coming a few days to the pre-trial hearing on the Senator’s alleged organ harvest case in the UK rescheduled for Monday, November 7, 2022, and during which the Senator could reapply for bail.
“It is clearer why the court hearing was rescheduled from October 31 to November 7, 2022 after which the indefensible order must have been granted exparte against a man in detention contrary to cardinal principle in law that both sides should be heard.
“This development, coupled with the fact that Ekweremadu’s real trial would only begin in May 2023, leaves HURIWA with no other choice than to suspect that there is a collaborative effort between EFCC, Metropolitan Police, and UK prosecutors to scuttle Ekweremadu’s bail prospects, once again, and keep him perpetually in detention over a clearly bailable offence.
“We therefore reiterate that the EFCC’s move is malicious, immoral, ill-timed, political in appearance, and a typical case of a country throwing her citizen under the bus.
“If a country cannot help its citizen get a fair trial, why inject itself into his matter and add to his woes as the EFCC has done?”