Court stops AGF, EFCC, UK from arresting, harassing AITEO boss, others – Veloxnews

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From Godwin Tsa, AbujaA High Court of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), Abuja has restrained the Attorney General of the Federation (AGF), the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) and the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) of the United Kingdom, Helen Hughes, from interfering with the assets, properties and rights of Nigerian businessman and AITEO boss Mr Benedict Peters.Equally restrained from similar acts are the National Crime Agency (United Kingdom), Stacey Boniface and John Bavister.The restraining order was made by Justice Olukayode Adeniyi who declared all allegations of corruption, bribery and money laundering made against Benedict Peters and his companies by British and Nigerian agencies arising from his ownership of a number of properties as baseless as they were premised on trumped up charges that constituted abuse of state power.Justice Adeniyi further declared that the billionaire businessman, Mr Benedict Peters, is a person of legitimate means and livelihood and Hh and his related companies are the lawful owners of some properties wrongfully listed as owned by Mrs Diezani Allison-Madueke.The judge made the declarations in his judgment in a suit marked FCT/HC/CV/0536/17 filed by Mr Benedict Peters and three of his companies Collinwood Limited, Rosewood Investments Limited and Walworth Properties Limited against the Attorney General of the Federation, Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) of the United Kingdom, Helen Hughes of the CPS, the National Crime Agency of the United Kingdom and its investigators Stacey Boniface and John Bavister.The Court found that the Defendants, by fraudulent design, suppressed and misrepresented facts in the supposition that four properties namely; 270-17 Street, Unit 4204, Atlanta, Georgia, Flat 5 Parkview, 83-86 Prince Albert Road, St. John’s Wood, London, Flat 58 Harley House Marylebone, London, and Apartment 4, 5 Arlington Road, London that were legitimately acquired by him belonged to Mrs Diezani Alison Madueke, former Minister of Petroleum in Nigeria, a fact they knew or ought to know as unsustainably untrue.The court had after a thorough scrutiny of the oral and documentary evidence adduced and subsisting judgments, came to a conclusion that Peters established proprietorship ownership of all the properties.It was the case of the claimants, through their counsel, Chief Mike Ozekhome, SAN, that the defendants engaged in a scheme of conspiracies, carousel fraud, misrepresentation and suppression of material facts which occasioned hardship, grave damages, loss of earnings, loss of goodwill and subjected the Plaintiffs to public contempt, odium and opprobrium.They further averred that the fraud committed by the defendants consists of dishonest/fraudulent misrepresentation of the true ownership of the assets in that they utilized a series of gross misstatements and concealment of facts as the basis upon which they obtained a succession of court orders in the form of interim forfeiture orders following which they utilized the orders to support a request for Mutual Legal Assistance that culminated in two Restraint orders in the United Kingdom.The court found that this series of events continued even after representations were made about the true ownership of the properties and this position was affirmed by subsisting judgments of competent jurisdiction. In the judgment, the court observed that despite the subsistence of these judgments declaring the true ownership of the properties, the defendants continue to refuse to release the properties.The court equally found that the defendants’ actions were directly intended (albeit to inflict economic loss on the just as much as it was to unlawfully profit the Defendants) to extract, by intimidation, coercion the assets, properties and monies to which the Claimants are legitimately entitled, finding that the acts of the defendants were targeted at misleading the court or misusing the legal process to injure the claimant’s economic interests.Justice Adeniyi further found that the existence of a common agreement between the parties was rightly inferred by their concerted acts and that those were purposeful, calculated and pre-determined to achieve those outcomes.Justice Adeniyi made a number of declaratory and injunctive reliefs in favour of Mr Benedict Peters and the other claimants including an award of N200 million damages jointly and severally against the defendants.Justice Adeniyi described the quantum of economic loss as “a peculiar case of misuse of state powers, oppression and crass victimization through a tacit design to undermine the economic interest of the claimants.The court declared that the defendants(British NCA, CPS, Mr John Bavista, Helen Hughes, Stacey Boniface and Nigerian AGF, EFCC, etc by fraudulent design, suppressed and misrepresented facts about the ownership of the relevant properties; that the predominant purpose of the sham allegations was directly intended to cause the claimants economic loss; that the unlawful means of conspiracy of the defendants was to extract by intimidation and coercion, properties to which the claimants were legitimately entitled.The court ordered the Defendants, British NCA, CPS, Mr.John Bavista,Helen Hughes, Stacey Boniface and Nigerian AGF, EFCC,their operatives, officers, agents, servants in whatever manner and howsoever called, be jointly or severally restrained from interfering with the proprietary rights and/or interests of Mr Benedict Peters and the other Claimants, their agents, alter-ego or privies in relation to the properties listed in this suit.It further ordered the Defendants either by themselves jointly/severally, their operatives, officers, investigators, servants, agents, associates and howsoever called, are hereby restrained from interfering/continued interference with the person of Mr Peters, either by way of arrest, criminal indictment, charge, interdiction, extradition, or in any other manner infringing on his personal liberty and freedom of movement on the facts and circumstances of this case.Reacting to the judgment, counsel to the claimants, Chief Mike Ozekhome, said that it has been a long five years for the Claimants to clear their names and that this judgment was a victory not only for the supremacy of rule of law but a critical indictment of the abuse of office, the arbitrary use of power and ignominious prosecutorial and investigative fraud.



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