The Federal High Court in Abuja on Friday ordered the Nigerian government to stop further action in its bid to seize the property of the immediate-past governor of Zamfara State, Abdulaziz Yari.
The order was targeted at the Attorney-General of the Federation (AGF) and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami, and the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), who are the respondents in the suit filed by Mr Yari.
The judge, Nkeonye Maha, gave the order during a court hearing in the suit Mr Yari instituted to stop the AGF and the EFCC from seizing his property over alleged fraud.
Mr Yari in his exparte application anchored his argument on section 46(1) and (3) of the 1999 Constitution and order 4 rule 3 and 4 of the Fundamental Rights (Enforcement Procedure) Rules 2009.
Following this, the judge on August 26 ordered the AGF and the anti-graft agency to appear before it to show cause why the request of the former governor to restrain them from taking any action against his property should not be granted.
Mr Yari’s residence was raided on August 5 by the EFCC. But he said the raid was conducted without valid court orders. He also asked the court to stop the EFCC’s ongoing investigation into allegations of fraud against him.
But during the court session on Friday, the EFCC counsel, Hussaina Gambo, informed the court that the agency complied with the order of the court, but that its counter affidavit was filed late, hence it was not yet in the court’s file.
“We received the order of this court on August 28 at 3 p.m. and we are supposed to respond within 48 hours, which we did around 12 noon today with an affidavit to show cause in response to the order made by this court. No steps have been taken to hinder the administration of justice,” Ms Gambo said.
On his part, the attorney-general, represented by Abdulahi Abubakar, a principal state counsel in the Federal Ministry of Justice, also informed the court that the AGF had filed a counter affidavit in compliance with the order of the court on why the AGF should not be restrained from taking action against Mr Yari.
Mr Abubakar further told the court that the AGF is a nominal party in the matter because the investigation of the former governor is being solely undertaken by the EFCC.
However, Mr Yari’s counsel, Mahmud Magaji, pleaded with the court to make an order against the two respondents not to take any action against his client pending the determination of his fundamental human rights suit.
Citing several authorities to support his submissions, Mr Magaji claimed that, having joined issues with each other, none of the parties is expected to take any step that will pervert the administration of justice till the issue is fully determined by the court.
Giving a short ruling, the judge agreed that the matter cannot go on because of the late filing of counter affidavit by the two respondents.
Ms Maha directed parties in the matter not to take any action that will impede the administration of justice as it relates to the instant suit.
She, therefore, adjourned the matter to September 5, for further hearing.