By Alex Enumah in Abuja
Justice Nkeonye Maha of the Federal High Court, Abuja, on Thursday returned the case file of former Zamfara State Governor, AbdulAziz Yari, challenging the seizure of his assets by the federal government to the Chief Judge of the Federal High Court for reassignment.
Maha returned the case file following indications that her court would not be able to complete the hearing in the suit by September 13 when the court’s annual vacation comes to an end.
Yari had approached the court for an order restraining the federal government and any of its agents from confiscating any of his assets.
Last month, Justice Taiwo Taiwo granted an order freezing six accounts linked to the former governor in two major banks pending the conclusion of allegations of fraud and money laundering against him.
Though Justice Taiwo, in another ruling, ordered the Independent Corrupt Practices and other related offences Commission (ICPC) to unseal a property of Yari earlier sealed off by the commission because the action was not backed by law, Yari however moved to challenge the action of the federal government.
In a motion exparte marked FHC/ABJ/CS/948/2019, the former governor prayed the court to restrain the government from freezing his bank accounts or seizing any of his properties pending the hearing and determination of his suit challenging the action of the government.
Respondents in the suit are the Attorney General of the Federation (AGF) and the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).
At the resumed proceedings in the matter which borders on fundamental human rights, the lawyer to the EFCC, Hussaina Gambo, informed the court that she was just served the reply of the applicant and as such will need time to look at it and respond on point of law if the need arises.
She prayed the court for a short adjournment to enable her do so.
Although, the counsel to the former governor, Mahmud Magaji (SAN), opposed the adjournment on the grounds that the suit required accelerated hearing being a fundamental human rights suit, the judge held that the proceedings cannot continue in view of the application of the EFCC.
In a short ruling, Justice Maha noted that her sitting as a vacation judge would expire on September 13 and would not be able to hear and determine the matter before the end of the vacation.
She therefore ordered that the case file be returned to the Chief Judge for reassignment to another judge.
She however ordered all parties in the suit to continue to respect the rule of law pending the conclusion of the matter, adding that her earlier order to all parties to maintain status quo subsists.
She subsequently adjourned the matter till September 30 for hearing.
Yari, in the suit supported by a 17-paragraph affidavit, specifically accused the respondents of persecuting him and members of his family over the turnout of political events in Zamfara State.
The former governor submitted that the action of the EFCC has made it impossible for him to exercise his right or his freedom of movement without fear of being arrested and intimidated by the commission.