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In a landmark ruling on Friday July 6, 2018, the Federal High Court in Abuja, directed the immediate release of two properties located in the United Kingdom belonging to African Billionaire businessman and CEO of the Aiteo Group, Benedict Peters.

The properties had been the subject of an Interim Forfeiture Order obtained by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) without notice to him.

By this decision, the court has upheld his case that the properties wholly belonged to him; were unconnected to the former Petroleum Minister, Mrs Diezani Allison-Madueke and were unjustifiably included in a list of properties the anti-graft agency tried to seize.

Chief Wole Olanipekun, Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN)

Chief Wole Olanipekun (pictured), a Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN), representing Mr Benedict Peters, urged the court to vacate the orders because EFCC’s premise for alleging that the properties belonged to Allison-Madueke was manifestly unfounded and not supported by any shred of evidence.

Relying on the contentions that EFCC acted “upon gross misstatements, concealment and misrepresentation of facts,” sought and obtained ex-parte an interim order of forfeiture of the properties Chief Olanipekun argued that “that the mandatory condition precedent to the grant of the interim forfeiture order was not complied with and due process of law was not followed in obtaining the interim order of forfeiture”.

Honourable Justice Nyako

Justice Nyako (pictured) accordingly directed that “the order of interim forfeiture that was made in this case cannot override or supersede an order of final judgement of a court of coordinate jurisdiction.” The learned judge then ordered that in that event, those properties could not continue to be restrained by the order EFCC had obtained and consequently directed the immediate release of the London properties