Justice A.R. Muhammed of the Federal High Court, Abuja today granted the application by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC for an extension of the interim order of attachment granted it to take possession of 48 properties of former governor of Bayelsa State, Timipre Sylva. The initial order granted on December 21, 2012, was for 14 days.
However before the expiration of the order, EFCC through its lawyer, Festus Keyamo applied for an extension. Keyamo told the court that the extension of the order was imperative for the determination of all applications and the safety of the attached properties.
However, the respondent's counsel, Benson Ibezim, had urged the court to vacate the order because it was an ex-parte order and that his client is challenging the competence of the court to even entertain the case.
In a brief ruling, Justice Muhammed averred that aside from the fact that the applicant (EFCC) had applied for the extension of the order before the expiration of the subsisting one, he was granting the extension because the order was the crux of the matter.
"If I do not do so, the question would be why and what are we coming here to deliberate on next time. The order of 21 December is the main thrust of this matter, the court must order for its existence to enable the respondent to be heard", he stated. He thereafter adjourned the case to January 24, 2013.
Assets belonging to the former governor against which a forfeiture order was obtained by the EFCC include a mansion at 3 River Niger Street, plot 3192 Cadastral zone AO, Maitama District Abuja; nine units (comprising six one bedroom and 3 two bedroom apartments) at 8 Sefadu Street Wuse zone 2, plot 262 Cadastral zone AO2, Wuse Abuja; 2 units duplexes at 5 Oguta Street, plot 906 Cadastral zone Wuse 11 Abuja.
Others are a duplex at Plot 1271 Nike Street Cadastral zone AO5, Maitama District Abuja; a duplex at Phase 1 Unit No. 1 (Villa 1) Palm Springs Gold Estate, Cachez Turkey Projects Limited, Mpape, Abuja; 10 units of one room apartments at 8 Mistrata Street plot 232 Cadastral zone Wuse 11 Abuja; 5 units duplexes at Plot No 1070 Dakibiyu District Cadastral zone B10, Abuja; 16 units service apartments at Plot 1181 Thaba Tseka Crescent, Off IBB Way, Wuse 11, Abuja and 3 units of three bedroom flats at No. 1 Mubi Close, Plot 766. Cadastral Zone A01, Garki, Abuja .
In a related development, the EFCC has urged a Federal High Court sitting in Abuja and presided by Justice Adamu Bello to strike out the application brought by Sylva seeking the dismissal of the 6-count charge preferred against him that borders on misappropriation of public funds to the tune of N6billion during his tenure as governor of Bayelsa State.
Sylva in the application filed on June 27, 2012, contends that the proof of evidence does not support the charge against him.
At the resumed hearing of the case on Tuesday January 15, 2013, EFCC counsel, Festus Keyamo posed two questions for determination by the court.
"This whole object falls on one major question which is whether looking at the prosecution's proof of evidence attached to the charge, it is precluded from giving any further evidence during trial. If the answer is an emphatic 'no', by the provision of Section 33 of the Federal High Court Act, then we are allowed not to exhaust it", Keyamo Said.
" If the court rules against us now, it means the court has come to a conclusion that whatever we have attached to the charge is all that we intend to give in the trial and there is no such indication anywhere."
Earlier, the defence counsel led by Lateef Fagbemi, SAN had said that the application was brought because the accused believe there is a defect in the proof of evidence.
He said that it was lame reasoning to say that further documents or statements would come later as the prosecution was expected to bring all the proofs that should reasonably establish a prima facie case against the accused.
The case has been adjourned to February 20, 2013 for ruling.
Ag. Head, Media & Publicity
15th January, 2013