The management of the Sun Publishing Limited on Saturday appealed to the Attorney-General of the Federation and the Minister of Justice to stop the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) from sealing the company’s corporate headquarters.
PREMIUM TIMES Saturday reported how EFCC officials marked the company’s headquarters for seizure, in what it described as obedience to a court ruling.
The Sun’s appeal is contained in a statement issued by the management of the media outfit titled: ‘EFCC visit to The Sun office with armed policemen: Our Stand’ and made available to the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN ) on Saturday.
The media organisation said the AGF should advise the EFCC appropriately on the legal consequences of such an action if implemented.
It said that the appeal became necessary following the visit by three officials of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) with four heavily armed policemen on Saturday, December 15, 2019 at about 10.00 a.m. to its corporate headquarters in Lagos.
“They arrived the corporate headquarters of The Sun Publishing Limited at 2, Coscharis Street, Kirikiri Industrial Layout, Apapa, Lagos and put up a notice for the staff and the general public to keep off the premises.
“The EFCC officials, who came in a white Toyota bus with registration number, ABUJA BWR-644GA, wrote on The Sun’s fence, “EFCC, keep off.”
“They also advised our staff to collect their personal belongings from the office as they will come back to seal the premises completely,” the statement stated.
The management of the media outfit stated in the statement that they did not understand the legal basis for the EFCC’s action.
“It is on record that there is a pending appeal at the Supreme Court with Suit No: SC/546/2018 wherein The Sun Publishing Limited appealed against the Judgement delivered by the Court of Appeal on the interim forfeiture order made against it by a Federal High Court in 2007 based on ex parte proceeding.
“The Notice of Appeal and Motion for Stay of Execution were duly served on EFCC by the bailiffs of the Court.
“It is also pertinent to state that EFCC vide a letter written by Counsel to The Sun Publishing Limited, dated May 22, 2018 and duly received by one Caleb Peter on behalf of Rotimi Jacobs & Co. was further put on notice of the pending appeal at the Supreme Court.
“It was also advised to stay action in the matter pending the hearing of the Motion for Stay of execution and the appeal,” the statement said.
The management of the Sun Publishing Limited also said, “it is instructive to state that The Sun Publishing Limited is not a party to the case of EFCC vs. Orji Uzor Kalu & 2 Others.
“So, we do not see why the Judgment in that case should lead to attempt to seal The Sun Publishing Limited premises.”
The publishing company said that it was aware that both Orji Kalu, a senator recently jailed for fraud, and Slok Nig. Limited had since appealed the Judgment delivered by Justice Mohammed Idris and a hearing date given.
“We wish to reiterate that The Sun Publishing Limited is an ongoing corporate limited liability company and its shares are owned by various individuals distinct from Sen. Orji Uzor Kalu.
“Therefore, the recent Judgment against Sen. Orji Uzor Kalu should not be used to disturb the operations of the company and the proprietary rights of its innocent shareholders until the matters are dispensed with at the Supreme Court,” the statement stated.
Earlier, the EFCC released a statement justifying its action. The agency said it was simply implementing the ruling of the court that properties belonging to Slok, Mr Kalu’s company, be forfeited to the federal government.
Read the full EFCC statement below
N7.65bn Fraud: EFCC Marks Ex-Abia Gov, Orji Kalu’s Properties
The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, on Saturday, December 14, 2019, marked properties belonging to a former Abia State governor, Orji Uzor Kalu.
The marking is to ensure that the properties are not dissipated, following the December 5, 2019 order of Justice Muhammed Idris sitting at the Federal High Court in Ikoyi, Lagos that Kalu’s company, Slok Nigeria Limited, be wound up and all assets forfeited to the Federal Government.
Kalu, who is the Senator representing Abia North in the National Assembly, had been arraigned alongside his company, Slok Nigeria Limited and Udeh Udeogu, his Director of Finance and Accounts at the Abia State Government House, over an amended 39-count charge bordering on conspiring and diverting the sum of N7.65bn from the coffers of the state.
The defendants pleaded not guilty to the charge preferred against them by the EFCC, thereby leading to their full trial.
In the course of the trial, the prosecution counsel, Rotimi Jacobs, SAN, called 19 witnesses and tendered several documents that were admitted in evidence by the court.
The defendants, however, testified on behalf of themselves during the trial.
The parties, during the proceedings on Tuesday, October 22, 2019, adopted their final written addresses.
In his final submission, the prosecution counsel, Jacobs, urged the judge to jail the defendants, saying the prosecution had proved the allegations against them.
Jacobs also urged the court to wind up the company as provided by the Law and all its assets forfeited to the Federal Government.
However, the defence counsel urged the court to “dismiss the charges, acquit and discharge” their clients.
Delivering his judgment, Justice Idris found the defendants guilty on all counts.
Justice Idris held that the prosecution had established its case against the defendants.
The Judge further held that “the case was conclusively investigated, as the prosecution conducted thorough investigations.”
Justice Idris, therefore, convicted and sentenced the first defendant,
Kalu to five years imprisonment on counts 1, 2, 3, 4, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10 and 11; three years on counts 23, 24, 25, 26, 27, 28, 29, 30, 31, 32,
33; 12 years on counts 34, 35, 36, 37 and 38 and five years on count 39.
The second defendant was convicted and sentenced to three years imprisonment on counts 24, 25, 27, 28, 30, 31, 32 and 10 years on counts 34, 37, 38 and 39.
Justice Idris further held that “In respect of the third convict, Slok Nigeria Limited, an order is hereby made that the company shall hereupon and without further assurances, but for this order, be wound up and all its assets and properties forfeited to the Federal Government of Nigeria.”