Human rights lawyer, Obed Okwukwe has described the Appeal Court judgment affirming Benedict Peters as the owner of United Kingdom (UK) properties, as victory for rule of law in Nigeria.
The Abuja division of the Court of Appeal had on Friday dismissed the appeal filed by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) challenging the Judgment of Justice Binta Nyako of the Federal High Court, Abuja, which declared that the properties and assets of Benedict Peters in London should be released to Mr. Peters and his two companies as those properties are assets of legitimate earning and cannot be forfeited to the government in any manner.
EFCC had approached the Appeal Court seeking to upturn the judgment of the Federal High Court that had ordered the Commission to release the properties to the AITEO boss.
The Appeal Court had considered arguments on behalf of both parties and upheld as sound and unimpeachable, all the issues and premises upon which the High Court reached the decision in the court below.
The Appeal Court held that the trial court was right to have relied on a different judgment of the High Court of the Federal Capital that had earlier found that Peters and his companies had established sufficient financial means to have acquired the properties in so doing, the Appeal Court affirmed the decision of both high courts on Peters’ financial capacity.
Accordingly, the Appeal Court confirmed that the properties belonged to Mr. Peters and his companies and were not to be forfeited to any government.
Speaking on the judgment, human rights lawyers, Okwukwe described the judgment as a significant victory for the rule of law in Nigeria in upholding the well-considered reasoning in the judgments in the lower courts.
Encouraging the EFCC now to give effect to both judgments, the lawyers further observed that this judgment reiterates the importance of a strong judiciary in maintaining the balance between law and justice.
It would be recalled that the EFCC had earlier obtained an interim order of forfeiture from Justice Binta Nyako of the Federal High Court with respect to two London properties belonging to Benedict Peters, following, which he successfully obtained an order from the same court before vacating the orders and directing their return to him.