IN THE FEDERAL HIGH COURT OF NIGERIA
IN THE LAGOS JUDICIAL DIVISION
HOLDEN AT LAGOS
SUIT NO: FHC/L/CS/1800/2019
THE ECONOMIC AND FINANCIAL CRIMES
KOLAWOLE AKANNI ALUKO } DEFENDANT/APPLICANTS
DISTRICT HEIGHTS LIMITED RESPONDENTS
BRIEF SUMMARY OF THE JUDGMENT
Judgment was delivered today, (2nd June 2020) by the Federal High Court Coram Liman J. in respect of the above, mentioned suit upholding the Defendants preliminary objection and dismissing the EFCC’s application for final forfeiture as a gross abuse of the process of court.
By a Motion Ex-parte dated 10th October and filed on the 11th October 2019, the EFCC prayed the Federal High Court Lagos (Coram Liman J) for an interim order of forfeiture in respect of three properties said to belong to the 1st Defendant, Mr Kolawole Aluko. The properties are described as (i) dwelling house situate at Plot 3390, Margaret Thatcher Close off Yakubu Gowon Crescent, Asokoro, Abuja FCT (ii) A Parcel of land at Plot 3390, Margaret Thatcher Close off Yakubu Gowon Street Crescent Asokoro, Abuja FCT (iii) Property described as Plot 1391, Tiamiyu Savage Street.
The Court granted the Order as prayed on the 17th day of October 2019 forfeiting the properties in the interim based on the principle of non-conviction forfeiture pursuant to section 17 of Advance Fee Fraud and Other Fraud Related Offences Act 2006 (AFF ACT). The EFCC gave the grant of the interim order wide publicity in all media outlets including print and electronic.
The defendant however quietly went about their case by filing an affidavit to show cause together with a preliminary objection. A third party Trelou Investment Inc also filed an application seeking to join the suit and also praying by way of interpleader that the Court dismiss the application in so far as “Avenue Towers” is concerned since the Court of Appeal had made a finding of fact in an earlier suit to the effect that Trelou Investment Inc. had shown sufficient interest in the property known and described as “Avenue Towers”.
All the pending applications were argued on the 5th March 2020. Judgment was slated for 2nd June 2020. In upholding the defendant’s preliminary objection and dismissing the application for final forfeiture, the Learned Trial Judge held that the suit was an abuse of the process of the court as it was wrong for the EFCC to attempt to enjoy two interim order of forfeitures when one interim forfeiture order was subsisting before another Federal High Court in Abuja since 2016. The EFCC did not take any steps since the grant of that order in 2016 and simply abandoned the case. Justice Liman quoting the famous phrase of Lord Denning in Mcfoy v UAC 1962 AC stated that the EFCC “cannot put something on nothing.” In that there must be a valid and subsisting interim order before competently applying for a final order of forfeiture. Since the properties were earlier forfeited in 2016, there was no property available to be forfeited in 2019. In the absence of a valid interim order of forfeiture, the case could not competently progress to the final forfeiture stage. And so held the Federal High Court Lagos division.
Appearances for Parties
For EFCC- Rotimi Iseoluwa Oyedepo, Esq.
For Kolawole Akanni Aluko
District Heights Limited: W. Adetokunbo Jaiye-Agoro, Esq.
Quadri Aderogba, Esq.
Trelou Investment Inc: Abiodun Owonikoko SAN