The Federal High Court in Abuja on Thursday upheld the validity of the Presidential Executive Order 6 of 2018 which provides for the interim seizure of assets linked to ongoing criminal trials and investigations.
President Muhammadu Buhari had on July 5, 2018, issued the Presidential Executive Order, which two lawyers, Ikenga Ugochinyere and Mr. Keneth Udeze, had instituted a suit before the court to challenge its validity.
Delivering judgment on Thursday, Justice Ijeoma Ojukwu dismissed the suit for lacking in merit and affirmed that the President has the constitutional powers to issue the PEO as long as it does not encroach into the principles of separation of powers.
She ruled that the PEO was issued as a policy directive for the implementation of provisions of existing laws, adding that it also recognised the right of every citizen to approach the court for redress if aggrieved by enforcement of the PEO.
She also held that the interim forfeiture of assets linked to various offences or ongoing criminal investigations could only be enforced in line with the provisions of the law and did not amount to an infringement of the rights of the affected person, who also has the right to approach the court to seek redress.
While reiterating that the PEO must be implemented in accordance to the principles of the rule of law, she added that the coordinating role imposed on the Attorney-General of the Federation by the PEO was subject to section 174 of the Constitution and must be predicated of the existence of facts.
The PEO which designates the AGF as the coordinating authority directs him to “at all times in this connection, employ all available lawful means, including seeking appropriate order(s) of court where necessary, and ensure that assets shall not be transferred, withdrawn, or dealt with in any way until the final determination by a court of competent jurisdiction of any corruption-related matter against such person.”