Justice A. Opesanwo of Lagos State High Court, Igbosere, has set aside an order of forfeiture of the property of one Mr Jonathan Udeagbala, which the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) had claimed was under forfeiture since 2012 and had arrested and charged Mr Ebun Adegboruwa, a lawyer, involved in the case.
It will be recalled that Adegboruwa, was charged to court for allegedly dealing in the property forfeited by order of court to the Federal Government through the EFCC.
The EFCC had subsequently filed a criminal charge against him at the Federal High Court and he was arrested, arraigned in court and later granted bail, for allegedly dealing in property, which was the subject of an order of forfeiture.
In its ruling, the court held that since the main criminal charge had been discharged, the interim order of forfeiture could not stand and that she could not sit on appeal against the order which dismissed the case.
“The court held further that it was left for the EFCC to appeal against the said order, if it was dissatisfied with it and not to seek to hold on to an interim order that was granted since 2012,” the Judge ruled.
The court rejected the argument of the EFCC that an appeal had been filed against the order, dismissing the criminal charge as no evidence of such an appeal was produced before the court and the court could not proceed to adopt the deposition contained in paragraph 12 of the counter-affidavit filed by the EFCC.
Adegboruwa had maintained that he committed no offence in law, but only assisted two business partners to broker a settlement arising from a telecoms transaction and that the EFCC was only taking advantage of the anti-corruption war of the Buhari regime to persecute him because of his constant criticism of the Buhari administration and in particular because of his involvement as defence counsel in the case of Chief Government Ekpemupolo (alias Tompolo) and the cousin of the former President Goodluck Jonathan, Mr Azibaola Robert, Adegboruwa said in a statement in response to the court order.
Adegboruwa said, “In 2012, Mr Jonathan Udeagbala, was arraigned before the High Court of Lagos State, for allegedly issuing dud cheques in favour of his business partner, Mr Leonard Okafor. In the course of the said trial, the parties met and decided to resolve the matter amicably by leasing out the personal house of Mr Udeagbala in Nicon Town, Lekki, Lagos.
“All the parties expressed preference for and trust in Mr Adegboruwa to supervise the settlement, which he did to the satisfaction of everybody. On December 17, 2015, the High Court of Lagos State, dismissed the criminal case against Mr Udeagbala, based on the settlement brokered by the parties.”