Kashamu seeks to stop Fed Govt from seizing N20b property ….. NATION

Kashamu seeks to stop Fed Govt from seizing N20b property

•NDLEA asks judge to hands off trial

Senator Buruji Kashamu has asked the Federal High Court in Lagos to restrain the Federal Government from seizing his property worth N20 billion for alleged drug trafficking allegations.

In a fresh application, he sought an order of perpetual injunction restraining the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA) and the Attorney-General of the Federation from taking possession of his property.

The application is before Justice Ibrahim Buba, who had restrained the NDLEA from arresting or extraditing Kashamu to the United States of America, where he is allegedly wanted.

But NDLEA has asked the judge to hands off the trial.

The agency said since Justice Buba, on June 23, reaffirmed a May 27 order by Justice Okon Abang of the same court stopping Kashamu’s arrest, he might not be fair in the case.

Its lawyer, Mr. J. N. Sunday, claimed the injunction amounted to preventing federal agencies from discharging their constitutional duties.

NDLEA asked the judge to withdraw from the case on the basis that he might not reach a different conclusion in the fresh case having ruled in Kashamu’s favour once.

“This court earlier heard and determined suit No. FHC/L/CS/763/2015. The facts or issues and the parties in the suit are not only the same but are intricately linked and intertwined with this suit.

“Having earlier made findings of facts, it will be difficult, if not impossible for this court to divorce itself from its findings in suit No. FHC/L/CS/763/2015, while considering and writing judgment in this present suit,” Sunday claimed.

According to NDLEA, the case file should be returned to the Chief Judge, Justice Ibrahim Auta, for reassignment to another judge.

Meanwhile, the AGF, represented by Mr. Oyin Koleosho filed a preliminary objection to the action.

It said the court lacked jurisdiction to entertain the suit, which it described as a “tortuous act” that does not fall within Chapter IV of the 1999 Constitution.

According to the AGF, the judge had no jurisdiction to entertain matters of landed property.

Describing the suit as an abuse of court processes, Kolesoho urged Justice Buba to strike it out for failing to disclose any reasonable cause of action against the AGF.

Kashamu said he learnt of moves by NDLEA and AGF to seize his property, including a 24-flat housing estate at Egbe and several hectares of land on Lekki Peninsula, Lagos.

He said the property were worth over N20 billion.

According to him, he acquired the property by dint of hard work and through his legitimate business.

He said contrary to NDLEA’s alleged claim, the property were not proceeds of drug trafficking.

Kashamu’s lawyer Mr. Ajibola Oluyede said his client’s rights to own property as guaranteed by sections 43 and 44 of the 1999 Constitution would be breached if the respondents were not perpetually restrained.

Justice Buba had, on June 29, granted an interim order restraining the respondents and their agents from interfering with Kashamu’s right to own property either in Nigeria or anywhere else, pending determination of the suit.

Upholding Justice Abang’s restraining order in June, Justice Buba held: ”There should be no overzealous conduct from either of the parties. Government agencies must abide by the rule of law to avoid anarchy.

“They (AGF and NDLEA chairman) should be of good behaviour until their appeal is determined

“No matter how aggrieved, they should abide by the order of court until there is a counter order from a superior court.

“For the avoidance of doubt, orders of Justice Abang are still subsisting and must be complied with.”

The judge adjourned the fresh suit to September 30.