Court unfreezes Peace Corps bank accounts

The Federal High Court in Abuja, on Tuesday, discharged the post-no-debit order it placed on 24 bank accounts belonging to the Peace Corps of Nigeria on June 23, 2017.

John Tsoho, in a ruling, vacated the order after upholding the motion filed by the group and its National Commandant, Mr. Dickson Akoh, who are also being prosecuted by the Federal Government before the same court.

The judge had placed the post-no-debit order on the 24 accounts on June 23, following an ex parte motion filed by the prosecution.

But Akoh and the group, through a motion filed on July 5, 2017, challenged the order made by the court, accusing the prosecution of “suppressing and misrepresenting facts” in the ex parte motion through which the post-no-debit order was obtained.

They accused Mr. James Idachaba of the legal unit of the Federal Capital Territory Police Command of obtaining the order without disclosing to Justice Tsoho that a similar order had earlier been obtained from the Magistrate’s Court in Wuse Zone 6, Abuja.

While faulting the validity of the ex parte motion filed by Idachaba for being included in the case being prosecuted by the Office of the Attorney General of the Federation, the applicants also maintained that the prosecution failed to disclose to the court that the post-no-debit order by the Magistrate’s Court had been vacated.

They also noted that the prosecution had, in fact, appealed against the discharge order made by the Magistrate’s Court without disclosing it to the Federal High Court.

Ruling on Tuesday, Justice Tsoho held that the claims by the applicants were not controverted.

Acknowledging the documents relating to the order obtained from the Magistrate’s Court, Justice Tsoho rejected the attempt by the prosecution to distinguish the order made by the Magistrate’s Court from that of the Federal High Court.

The judge held that his order and the one made by the Magistrate’s Court had “the same effect.”

He noted that if the prosecution had intended to make the post-no-debit order to last throughout the period of the trial of Akoh, it would not have applied for the order through an ex parte motion, but would have done so by filing a motion on notice served on the owners of the accounts.

The judge however stated that the validity of Idachaba’s motion could not be faulted since there had not been any complaint from the AGF office, which is prosecuting the case.

“The interim order made on June 23, 2017 by this court is hereby discharged,” the judge ruled.

He fixed October 24 for the continuation of the trial of Akoh and the hearing of another pending application by the prosecution.

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