The Federal High Court, sitting in Abuja, on Monday, restrained the Independent Corrupt Practices and other related offences Commission (ICPC), and the Attorney General of the Federation (AGF), from seizing or interfering with assets and properties belonging to the immediate past Governor of Zamfara State, Abdulazeez Yari.
The court, in a ruling that was delivered by Justice Taiwo Taiwo, made the restraining order following an ex-parte motion Yari filed through his lawyer, Mahmud Magaji, SAN.
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Justice Taiwo further barred the Respondents to the motion (ICPC and AGF), from infringing on Yari’s fundamental rights as enshrined in sections 34, 35, 37, 41 and 43 of the 1999 Constitution, as amended.
He held that all the parties should maintain status quo ante bellum, pending the hearing and determination of the fundamental right enforcement suit Yari filed before the Court.
It will be recalled that the court had last Friday, also granted ICPC the nod to freeze six separate bank accounts belonging to Yari and two firms that were linked to him.
Meanwhile, Justice Taiwo said his later ruling would not affect Yari’s funds in Polaris and Zenith banks, which he ordered ICPC to freeze.
Specifically, he granted Yari’s prayer for: “An order of interim injunction retraining the respondents from seizing, impounding, taking over, confiscating or otherwise forfeiting the assets and properties of the applicant wherever they may be located within Nigeria or anywhere else in the world pending the hearing and determination of the hearing and determination of the notion on notice
“An order of interim injunction restraining the respondents from unlawfully interfering with the Applicant’s rights to Sections 34, 35, 37, 41 and 43 of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria (as amended) until the hearing and determination of the substantive suit.
As well as, “An order of this honourable court directing the parties to maintain status quo pending the hearing and determination of the substantive suit”.
On his grounds for the approaching the court, Yari who was the erstwhile Chairman of the Nigerian Governors Forum, said he had been subjected to various forms of intimidation, arrest and detention, based on spurious allegations some powerful elements of the All Progressives Congress, APC, levelled against him.
He said: “These individuals thus decided to carry out a vendetta and revenge against the applicant including instigating the respondents against the applicant upon their spurious conclusion without evidence that the applicant was guilty of corrupt practices as former governor of Zamfara State and was in breach of the Code of Conduct Act.
“This witch-hunt, is clearly politically motivated, baseless, and has been designed only to discredit and humiliate the applicant in a bid to decimate him politically and this court is statutory empowered to protect any violation against the applicant’s fundamental rights.
“The 1st and 2nd respondents are determined on a follow up attack upon the applicant and his family by the use of allegations of wrongdoing which had been concocted against the applicant in 2019 immediately the Supreme Court decided all elected officials of the All Progressives Congress (APC) should step aside for the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) as an excuse to arrest the applicant and his wife and to arraign them on trumped up charges.
“The agents of the 2nd respondent invaded the applicant’s private residence and nothing incriminating was ever found against The Applicant despite the several investigations carried out by the respondents.
“The applicant is the immediate past Executive Governor of Zamfara State and before then he was elected into the House of Representatives.
“The applicant states that he has been having series of harassment and intimidation by the agents of the respondent some arisen from the lost of the All Progressives Congress in Zamfara State to the Peoples Democratic Party.
“The said lost arose from the decision of the Supreme Court wherein the court directed that all the elected officers in Zamfara State should vacate office for the 2nd runner up of the 2019 General Election”, Yari added.
ICPC had told the court that it was investigating the former governor based on intelligence report that he diverted public funds into his personal accounts, as well as funds that belonged to the Nigerian Governors Forum while he held sway as its Chairman.