Land measurement: Court dismisses property firms application against EFCC
An Ikeja Special Offences Court has dismissed the application filed by a property firm, Kasmal property Ltd and four others against the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).
The land which measured 50.080 hectares situated in Ogombo village in Eti-Osa local government, Lagos.
Other firms whose applications were dismissed alongside Kasmal were: Kasmal International Service Ltd, Courtleigh Investment Ltd, Pennek Nigeria Ltd and Taiwo Shote.
Justice Mojisola Dada, in her ruling, dismissed the application on the basis of lack of merit in any of the applications of the respondents.
Dada held that the order of the Federal High Court was not binding on the state high court as rightly argued by the EFCC and did not restrict the commission from taking the step it took in obtaining the Interim forfeiture order being complained against.
She said: “The allegation of the deponent to the counter-affidavits, Johnson Akpan, that there are several titles registered in the Land Registry, Alausa in Ikeja , on this same land is not denied by any of the respondents.
“It rather was confirmed by them especially, the fifth respondent who referred to and listed 11 different deeds of assignment on the same subject matter.
“It is also obvious that no arrest has been made against any of the respondents with the order of the Federal High Court. The question is, should this be sufficient reason to handicap the EFCC from taking the step it took where public interest is of utmost importance. As stated by the fifth respondent, 11 deeds of assignment on the same subject-matter calls for drastic measures.
“Section 26 of the EFCC Act, 2004 (1) (a) provides that, ‘any property subject to forfeiture under this act may be seized by the commission when the seizure is incidental to an arrest or search.
“The power of EFCC is therefore not limited to arrest but when it is carrying out or conducting any form of search, what the commission is doing can best be described as conducting a search. Of more importance force of Law is Section 44 (2) (k) of the 1999 Constitution as amended which permits the temporary taking of possession of property for the purpose of any examination, investigation or enquiry.
“This alone fortified by the series of claims and disputes over the land, subject-matter of this suit with a very high level of public interest, is good reason for the interim forfeiture order sought for and obtained from this court.
“Therefore, I find no merit in any of the applications of the respondents and same are hereby dismissed. I so hold,”
The EFCC had in a suit marked no: ID/5579GCM/2022 obtained a temporary ex-parte order against the five respondents over land measuring 50.080 hectares at Ogombo village in Eti-Osa which the commission alleged is under investigation in respect of the suit FHC/ABJ/CS/912/2019.
The anti-graft agency alleged that the landed property was subject matter in the suit pending in Abuja and also Lagos in the suit no LD/771/2008 between Adeniran Adedokun Ventures Nigeria Limited & others against Pentagon Real Estate Investment Limited & others wherein the respondents/ applicants and Adedokun ventures, the petition at whose instance EFCC is acted are adverse parties.
The five respondents therefore approached the court, sought for an order to vacate or staying the execution of the ex-parte interim forfeiture order made against them.
Aside setting aside the exparte interim order granted against them, they also sought the order of the court to strike out the suit for being an abuse of court.
In their seven grounds of application, the respondents stated that dispute on title land and alleged land grabbing are beyond the investigation and prosecutorial power of the EFCC.
They submitted that there was misrepresentation of material facts by the EFCC, non disclosure of the pendency of the two suit and well as no urgency warranting the grant of exparte interim forfeiture order in May 22 on account of petition received by EFCC in January 2019.
Th case was adjourned until April 19 for further hearing.