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Court refuses to unfreeze Shagaya’s N1.9bn bank account



Court refuses to unfreeze Shagaya’s N1.9bn bank account

Justice Oluremi Oguntoyinbo of a Federal High Court in Lagos has declared that an interim order attaching N1.9 billion domiciled in the Unity Bank’s account of a businesswoman, Hajiya Bola Shagaya, was validly secured by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).

The anti-graft agency had on December 29, 2016, secured an interim order attaching the account from Justice Muslim Hassan of the Lagos Division of the Federal High Court. The judge said the order was to last pending conclusion of investigations by the commission.

Dissatisfied, Hajiya Shagaya, through her lawyer, Napoleon Emeaso- Nwachukwu filed a motion seeking to unfreeze the account claiming that the EFCC’s action violated her rights to own property.

She said she was never availed the opportunity to state her own side of the story before the order was secured.Shagaya urged Justice Oguntoyinbo to set aside the order by declaring it unconstitutional, null and void, claiming it violated her right to own movable property as guaranteed by Section 44 (1) (k) of the Constitution. In a 19-paragraph affidavit deposed to by Sulaiman Aliu, the businesswoman said she was worried that the ex-parte order made by Justice Hassan appeared, otherwise, to be final as the judge “did not give any return date for further proceedings and did not avail her any hearing. She said:

“The order of this honourable court made on the 29th of December, 2016, per Honourable Justice M.S. Hassan deprived the applicant of her property without recourse to laiddown procedure and due process of law.

“The ex parte order made to last pending the determination of an investigation, which is devoid of a time certain and indefinite in nature, is oppressive and a violation  of the applicant’s rights to fair hearing, presumption of innocence and right to her property.”

However, delivering judgement on Shagaya’s motion yesterday, Justice Oguntoyinbo faulted Shagaya’s claims that she was not availed the opportunity to defend herself before the order was secured. According to the judge, the order was made through an ex-parte motion and as such there was no way she could have been heard.

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