AITEO, EFCC know fate February 9 over United Kingdom court order

High Court

Federal High Court Abuja, on Wednesday fixed February 9 for ruling on a Motion on Notice brought by AITEO Eastern E & P Company Limited against the Attorney General of the Federation and the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission.

AITEO’s Motion, which was adopted by Wole Olanipekun (SAN) seeks an order of interlocutory injunction against the defendants.

The plaintiff, through the Motion, has prayed the court for an order restraining the AGF from taking steps aimed at crippling the business operations or freezing the bank accounts belonging to AITEO.

The application is also seeking an order of interim injunction, restraining the defendants jointly or severally, either by themselves, agents, operatives, privies, servants, aides or through any persons howsoever, from interfering with, or obstructing the business operations, activities and undertakings of the plaintiff, either by way of embarg or by freezing any of its accounts or obstructing its activities in any way or manner whatsoever.

It also prayed for an order of interim injunction restraining the defendants jointly or severally, either by themselves, agents, operatives, privies, servants, aides or through any persons howsoever from relying on, activating, making use of, registering and or applying/enforcing the ex parte restraint order dated October 19, 2017, made in suit No: 82/17, in the Matter of Benedict Peters (alleged offender) and Nnenna Peters and five others (third parties), by the Crown Court, sitting at Southwark, United Kingdom, as well as Judge Beddoe, to disrupt, distract, frustrate, meddle (with), hinder or impede the business operations, undertakings, negotiations and activities of the plaintiff.

Urging the court to grant an interlocutory injunction against the defendants, Olanipekun told the court that what the second defendant (EFCC) was asking in its counter affidavit and written address “was to set out a completely different case and decided to address the court on it”.

He wondered why EFCC was opposed to the application when the AGF did not file any process in opposition.

“The AGF has not filed any counter affidavit or written address to oppose the motion due to public interest; we are talking about the sovereignty of Nigeria. The second defendant (EFCC) cannot cry more than the bereaved”, Olanipekun argued.

However, the AGF represented by Oyinkole Oso, admitted that he did not file any counter affidavit, but would align himself with the submission of counsel to the EFCC.

In opposition to the plaintiff’s application, counsel to EFCC, G.K Olatonu, urged the court to dismiss the motion.

The EFCC lawyer submitted that “the entire plaintiff’s motion on notice was grounded on speculation”.

He insisted that the plaintiff has not made any case to warrant the court to grant an order in its favour.

In addition, Olatonu argued that the instant application and the grounds upon which it was based, “constitutes an abuse of court process”.

He informed the court that Benedict Peters, the alter ego of AITEO in the instant suit marked FHC/ABJ/CS/1170/2017, was the plaintiff in a sister suit marked FHC/ABJ/CS/1063/2017.

According to hum, the AGF and EFCC are also defendants in both suits, which have the same subject matter, bordering on the exparte restraint order dated October 19, 2017, made in suit nos: 82/17, in the Matter of Benedict Peters (alleged offender) and Nnenna Peters and five others (third parties), by the Crown Court, sitting at Southwark, United Kingdom.

Contrary to the argument made by Olanipekun, EFCC lawyer insisted that the case of Access Back Pls, involving Akingbola, was inapplicable to the facts of the instant suit”.

“In that Akingbola’s case, attempts were made to register the exparte restraint order made in UK on October 19, 2017. But in this present scenario, the plaintiff has not shown any date, time, process or step taken by EFCC to register the exparte restraint order in Nigeria.

He therefore urged the court to dismiss the application seeking interlocutory injunction against the defendants.

In a sister suit marked FHC/ABJ/CS/1063/2017, the court equally slated February 9 for ruling in a Motion on Notice filed by Wole Olanipekun, on behalf of Benedict Peters and six others against the AGF and others.

In opposing the suit, the EFCC lawyer stated that the two reliefs sought by Olanipekun was “an attempt to whittle down or vary the exparte order of interim forfeiture granted the Commission by Justice Binta Nyako in which the plaintiff has joined issues with the defendants.

After listening to parties involved in the matter, the trial judge, Justice Gabriel Kolawole, adjourned the matter till February 9.

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