A Federal High Court sitting in Abuja Thursday upheld the validity of an executive order by President Muhammadu Buhari aimed at seizing assets of corrupt persons and institutions in Nigeria.
Buhari on July 5, 2018, issued the Presidential Executive Order which empowers the Attorney General of the Federation (AGF) to take steps, in liaison with relevant investigative agencies, to temporarily seize property linked with corruption pending investigation and conclusion of trial to prevent the dissipation of such assets.
The order was, however, challenged by two lawyers, Ikenga Ugochinyere and Keneth Udeze, who instituted a suit before the court to challenge its validity.
The judge, Justice Ijeoma Ojukwu Thursday, dismissed the suit for lacking merit and held that it was within the powers of the president, as granted by the Constitution, to issue executive orders for the execution of executive policies, as long as such orders do not offend the doctrine of separation of powers.
The Judge ruled that the order 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 its enforcement.
She noted that the order seemed to give the AGF the discretion on when to seek court’s permission to seize any suspected property, said the AGF must, at all times, obtain a court order before seizing any asset.
She said such application for the court’s permission to seize any suspected asset could be made ex-parte.