EFCC Has No Locus Standi To Seal Our Office —The Sun

The management of The Sun Publishing Limited, publishers of national daily, The Sun newspapers, has said the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) possesses no locus standi to seal its premises, declaring that there is a subsisting appeal case over the properties the commission was marking for closure over the weekend.

The commission had, on Saturday marked properties belonging to a convicted former governor of Abia State, Senator Orji Uzor Kalu, who is also believed to own the newspaper house.

Kalu, the senator representing Abia North in the Ninth Senate, was on Thursday, December 5, convicted by Justice Muhammed Idris of the Federal High Court, Ikoyi, Lagos and sentenced to 12 years jail term for conspiring and diverting the sum of N7.65 billion belonging to the Abia State government.

But the management of The Sun said the organisation was not solely owned by the former Abia State governor, adding that many other individuals had shares in it.

In a statement entitled; “EFCC’s Visit to The Sun Office with Armed Policemen: Our Stand,” issued by the management of the company on Saturday, a copy of which Sunday Tribune saw, it said The Sun Publishing Limited was not a party to the case between Senator Kalu and the commission.

“Three officials of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), with four heavily armed policemen, on Saturday, December 15, at about 10.00 a.m., arrived the corporate headquarters of The Sun Publishing Limited at 2, Coscharis Street, Kirikiri Industrial Layout, Apapa, Lagos and put up a notice for staff and the general public to keep off the premises.

“The EFCC officials, who came in a white Toyota bus with registration number: ABUJA BWR-644GA, wrote on The Sun’s fence, ‘EFCC, keep off.’ They also advised our staff to collect their personal belongings from the office as they would come back to seal the premises completely.

“We do not understand the legal basis for this EFCC’s action. It is on record that there is a pending appeal at the Supreme Court with Suit No: SC/546/2018 wherein The Sun Publishing Limited appealed against the judgment delivered by the Court of Appeal on the interim forfeiture order made against it by a Federal High Court in 2007, based on ex parte proceeding.

“The Notice of Appeal and Motion for Stay of Execution were duly served on EFCC by the bailiffs of the court.

“It is also pertinent to state that EFCC vide a letter written by counsel to The Sun Publishing Limited, dated May 22, 2018 and duly received by one Caleb Peter on behalf of Rotimi Jacobs & Co. was further put on notice of the pending appeal at the Supreme Court and advised to stay action in the matter pending the hearing of the Motion for Stay of execution and the appeal.”

The newspaper company said beyond the above-stated, it was not a party to the case between the EFCC and Senator Kalu and two others.

“Again, it is instructive to state that The Sun Publishing Limited was not a party to the case of EFCC vs. Orji Uzor Kalu and two others. So, we do not see why the judgment in that case should lead to attempt to seal The Sun Publishing Limited premises.

“Furthermore, we are aware that both Senator Orji Kalu and Slok Nig Limited have since appealed the judgment delivered by Justice Idris and a hearing date given. We wish to reiterate that The Sun Publishing Limited is an ongoing corporate limited liability company and its shares are owned by various individuals distinct from Senator Orji Kalu,” the company said.

“Therefore, the recent judgment against Senator Kalu should not be used to disturb the operations of the company and the proprietary rights of its innocent shareholders until the matters are dispensed with at the Supreme Court. In view of the foregoing, we call and appeal to the Attorney-General of the Federation and the Minister of Justice to urgently intervene and advise EFCC appropriately on the legal consequences of its actions,” the company said.

While carrying out the marking on Saturday, the EFCC said marking of the properties was to ensure that they were not dissipated, following Justice Idris’ order that the former governor’s company, Slok Nigeria Limited, be wound up and all assets forfeited to the Federal Government.

The former governor was prosecuted by the anti-graft agency and convicted alongside Slok Nigeria Limited and Udeh Udeogu, who served as Director of Finance and Accounts at the Abia State Government House during his tenure.

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