The Federal Government on Wednesday applied for an interim order granting it ownership of assets at the headquarters of the Peace Corps of Nigeria, in Abuja.
FG, in a motion on notice that was filed by the Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Mr. Abubakar Malami, SAN, told the Federal High Court in Abuja that the property situated at No. 57. A. Abubakar Crescent, off Alex Ekwueme Way, Opp Jabi lake, Abuja, “was used to commit crime”.
Government lawyer, Mr. James Idachaba, who moved the motion before Justice John Tsoho, aside applying for an interim forfeiture order, also prayed the court to direct security agencies to seal-off the property.
The application was hinged on section 330 of the Adminstration of Criminal Justice Act, ACJA, 2015, and section 14 of the Advance Fee Fraud and other fraud related offence Act.
It was supported by a 14-paragraphed affidavit that was deposed to by one Philip Tumba, a Police officer and litigation secretary.
The motion came on a day FG filed amended criminal charge against the Commandant of Peace Corps, Mr. Dickson Akor, who was hitherto standing trial on a 90-count charge bordering on his alleged involvement in N1.4billion recruitment scam.
The Incorporated Trustees of the Corps was equally cited as the 2nd defendant in the charge marked FHC/ABJ/CR/45/2017.
The AGF who took over prosecution of the defendants on Wednesday from the Nigerian Police Force, pruned down the charges from 90 to 13 counts.
Earlier in the proceeding, a lawyer from the AGF’s office, Mrs. T. V. C Kuku, told the court that further investigations revealed new facts she said necessitated the filing of the amended charge.
Mrs. Kuku requested for time to enable the prosecution to effect service of the charge on the defendants.
Meanwhile, Peace Corps, while opposing FG’s bid to take possession of its headquarters, filed a counter-motion wherein it alleged that Police had already sealed-off its property before it approached the court for the order.
Its lawyer, Mr. John Ochogwu, discribed FG’s motion as an attempt by Police “to legalise their illegalities”.
The defendants, in their own motion dated October 6, sought an order of the court directing Police to unseal its headquarters.
Ochogwu also prayed the court to direct one of its officials to visit the said property with a view to verifying whether or not it was previously sealed-off and constantly watched by armed policemen.
Meantime, Justice Tsoho has fixed January 15 to deliver ruling on the two applications.
It will be recalled that the court had on March 29, granted Akor bail to the tune of N30 million.
In the original charge, Police accused members of the Corps of wearing uniforms and other identification marks contrary to section 24 (1) of the Private Guard Companies Act Cap P30, Laws of the Federation of Nigeria, 2004, and punishable under section 32 (1) of the Act.
It further accused the defendants of laundering funds obtained through unlawful activity contrary to section 7(1)(b) of the Advance Fee Fraud and Other fraud related Offences Act, Cap A6 laws of the Federation of Nigeria, 2004 and punishable under the same section of the Act.
They were accused of obtaining money by false pretence contrary to section 1(1)(a) of the Advance Fee Fraud and Other fraud related Offences Act, Cap A6 Laws of the Federation of Nigeria, 2004 and punishable under the same section of the Act.
More so, FG charged the defendants for organising and training of members of Peace Corps of Nigeria as a quasi- Military organization contrary to section 6(1)(a) of the Public Order Act, Cap P42, Laws of the Federation of Nigeria, 2004 and punishable under the same section of the Act.
Adding that they unauthorised display of flags contrary to section 7(4)(b) of the Public Order Act, Cap P42, Laws of the Federation of Nigeria, 2004 and punishable under the same section of the Act.
Likewise, the prosecution accused the defendants of operating as a private guard without licence contrary to section 1(1) of the Private Guard Companies Act Cap P30, Laws of the Federation of Nigeria, 2004, and punishable under section 32 (1) of the Act.
Under the offence of obtaining money by false pretence, FG alleged that Akor and Incorporated Trustees of Peace Corps of Nigeria, had between January 1, 2013 and March 6, 2017, committed an offence to wit: by false pretence and with intent to defraud, obtained for yourselves the sum of N274, 712, 126. 18 from unsuspecting citizens of Nigeria who paid into your Eco bank’s account No. 4582022099.