A Federal High Court in Abuja has advised anti-corruption agencies in Nigeria not to conduct their affairs in a manner that will discourage the development of free enterprise in Nigeria.
Justice Nnamdi Dimgba gave his opinion last week in an application by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) to attach the property of a private company, which was suspected of being a proceed of corruption.
Wishwich Concepts Ltd on January 31, 2018 filed an objection challenging the ex parte application by the EFCC dated January 24, 2018, which sought an order of interim attachment/forfeiture of a property listed as a Plot 2727A, Cadastral Zone A, Maitama District, Abuja.
Counsel to Wishwich Ltd, Kehinde Ogunwumiju (SAN) said the interim forfeiture, which was earlier granted on June 21, 2017, pending the conclusion of investigation and filing of criminal charge within 60 days, is an abuse of court process as it was filed two days after the EFCC filed a related application on fundamental human rights.
He argued that the EFCC offered no explanation of what they did in terms of investigation during the time the initial order granted to them was extant, adding that they neither explained why no charge has been filed against any suspect till date.
Justice Dimgba upheld the submissions of the company but adviced it not to dispose of the property still under investigation until the conclusion of the investigation as contained in its undertaken.
He noted that the anti-corruption war is a noble one but it must be done within the boundaries of the law in such a manner as not to discourage investment.
“It is important that this goal, while noble, should not be prosecuted in a manner that will stifle and kill legitimate business enterprise. All of these goals and objectives, to wit, a society free of public and private corruption, and a society in which private and public enterprise thrive, are all noble goals which benefit society. And care must be taken that in promoting one cause (that is, a corrupt free society), matters are not pursued in a manner that destroys the other noble goal that benefits society (a society of flourishing free enterprise),” he said.