The Federal High Court, Abuja, on Thursday, adjourned hearing in the asset forfeiture matter, involving Abdulrasheed Maina, ex-Chairman, Pension Reformed Task Team, PRTT, until April 1.
Justice Folashade Giwa-Ogunbanjo, who fixed the date, said the adjournment was in the interest of justice.
News Agency of Nigeria reports that the court had, on October 22, 2019, granted an interim forfeiture order of 23 assets linked to Mr Maina, following a motion filed by counsel to the EFCC, Mohammed Abubakar.
EFCC had said that the properties (houses, estates and companies) were allegedly acquired through corrupt practices of Mr Maina and his associates.
Justice Giwa-Ogunbajo had also ordered that the assets be placed on newspaper publications for 14 days “for interested parties to show cause why a final order of forfeiture to the Federal Government of the assets and properties should not be made.”
However Mr Maina (1st defendant) and others had, after the expiration of the 14 days, filed applications to show cause why the final forfeiture order should not be made.
Other interested applicants include Laila Maina (2nd defendant), Bimatec Nigeria Ltd (3rd defendant); Faisal Maina , Abdullahi Aliu and Yagaji Aliu (all as 4th defendant) and Estate of Late Alhaji M. Usman (5th defendant).
The applicants, through their lawyers, Evelyn Dele and Anayo Adide, had filed an application for extension of time on the interim order.
In her argument, Maina’s lawyer, Dele, argued that her client was in detention when the forfeiture order was granted and that by the time he got the information in the dailies, the 14-day period had elapsed.
But EFCC’s counsel, Mr Abubakar, told the court to dismiss the application, arguing that the applicants did not give genuine reason to warrant the extension.
In her ruling, Justice Giwa-Ogunbanjo, who granted the application for the extension of time regarding forfeiture of the assets linked to 1st, 2nd, 3rd and 4th defendants, struck out the 5th defendant’s application because the process was filed in the name of estate of late Alhaji Usman.
She upheld the EFCC’s argument that the estate of a deceased person had no legal capacity to file an action before the court.
Mr Abubakar, who lauded the judge for the ruling, stated that the applicants used the extension of time to delay judgement.
Giwa-Ogunbanjo, in her response, said that due process would be followed and justice would be served.
According to her, everyone is entitled to fair hearing.
“Don’t let us sacrifice justice on the altar of speed.
“Even if you believe it is causing delay, it will surely come to an end,” she said.
The judge, then, adjourned the matter until April 1 for hearing of the substantive applications.