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Police probe Abuja lawyer, Cecil Osakwe over use of fake bailiffs, documents



Police operatives have begun investigations into how a legal practitioner, Mr Cecil Osakwe, allegedly used fake court bailiffs and police to forcefully eject a Civil Servant, Ms Asabe Waziri, from an apartment he allegedly sold to her at Abeh Signature Apartments located at Maitama, Abuja.

The Abuja-based lawyer and property developer is being investigated by the Federal Criminal Investigations Department (FCID) of the Nigeria Police Force.

It was learnt that the lawyer is also being investigated over  a case of obtaining by false pretense, the sum of N130 million from Ms Waziri, who paid the sum to purchase a two bedroom flat at Abeh Signature Apartment at Maitama, Abuja.

Already, the FCID has transferred the criminal case file to the Office of the Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice for legal advice on the charges to be preferred against him. Osakwe is the Managing Director of Abeh Signatures Ltd, owners of the apartment sold to Ms Waziri.

The fresh investigation is based on the revelation from the High Court of FCT showing that the FCT High Court did not authorize the levying of any execution on the property of Ms Waziri, a Civil Servant who was forcefully and illegally ejected from her home by Cecil Osakwe and his lawyer, Victor Giwa via a fake execution of judgment order from the FCT High Court.

The Police had earlier on June 14, 2022, filed a two count charge against Osakwe over allegations of N130 million fraud, which he committed against Ms Waziri.

According to the court processes in charge number CR/244/2022, Osakwe was accused of Advanced Fee Fraud punishable under section 3(1) of the Laws of the Federation 2004.

The charge sheet was signed by Mr M. B. Abubakar, Director of Public Prosecution in the Federal Ministry of Justice.

In count two of the charge, Osakwe was accused of criminal intimidation of Ms Waziri.

He was alleged to have threatened her with injury to her person and reputation with intent to cause harm and even death in order to cause her to stop requesting legitimately from him (Osakwe) her receipt for payment for the purchase of a unit of two bedroom flat with a maid’s quarters at Abeh Signature Apartments, Maitama Abuja.

However, a new twist was added to the case by the FCT High Court with a letter signed by the Director of Enforcement, Mr Chukwuemeka Tony Ubani, indicating that “the High Court of FCT, Abuja did not authorize the levying of any execution in respect of the above named parties on March 18, 2022”, referring to case of Asabe Waziri Vs Abeh Signature Ltd which was already subject of appeal.

Mr Ubani, explaining the process of enforcement of execution, said: “Enforcement is centrally done by the Office of the Chief Registrar, through the Office of the Director of Enforcement. This court cannot levy execution without taking the original file which includes the original copies of the warrant of possession and/or writ of attachment as the case may be, to the venue for sighting by the judgment debtor”. He equally stated that the court does not levy execution on the strength of a mere letter to the police requesting for police assistance. “We must first get approval in writing from the police to release their men before we go for execution,” he stated.

This denial, according to police sources, constituted the reason for the fresh investigations as it means fake court officials and policemen were procured by Osakwe and Victor Giwa to eject the victim and her properties from the apartment. This is also coupled with the fact that they carted away all the victim’s valuables and properties and took them to an unknown location.

Last year, Osakwe had attempted to use the court as a shield to stop police invitation and investigations by the police, and DSS, when he filed a fundamental rights enforcement application before Justice Mohammed Idris of Jabi Division, FCT High Court.

He had asked the court to stop security agencies from arresting or investigating him. Joined in the suit as respondents are the  Director of State Security Service (SSS), the Inspector General of Police, the FCT Police Commissioner, and Ms Waziri.

In the suit, he asked the court to declare that his invitation and arrest by the defendants was unlawful and unconstitutional as it constitutes an infringement on his personal liberty, and right to own property as enshrined in the 1999 constitution. He therefore asked for damages of N150 million from the defendants for the breach of his rights.

However, countering his argument, a lawyer to the Department of State Services raised an issue for determination: “Whether the applicant can shield himself through the fundamental rights enforcement procedure from investigation by security and law enforcement agencies, of alleged infraction of law”.

However, the trial judge struck out the case, saying the court could restrain the police from carrying out their constitutional duty of criminal investigation.

Justice Idris stated that the mere assertion of violation of the applicant’s constitutional right does not necessarily make the action maintainable by recourse to the fundamental rights enforcement procedure rules. The court has to examine the reliefs closely to ascertain what the applicant claims. “This suit ought to have been initiated by a writ of summons where the parties could have filed and exchanged pleadings and evidence will be adduced and tested on the issues raised by the applicant”, the judge said further.

Striking out the application, Justice Idris said that what the applicant sought from the court does not fulfill the requirements of the Fundamental rights enforcement procedure rules 1979 as provided by the constitution. “In the respective counter affidavit as contained in the judgment, the 2th-4th respondents elaborately by the way of counter affidavit narrated to the court the circumstances which led to the discharge of their various form of duty as presented by the laws that established them with the explanation of the first respondent who in his counter affidavit gave details of the circumstances that led the first respondent to lodge his complaint to the 2nd, 3rd, and 4th respondents. It was therefore improper for the applicant to treat the matter as one amounting to that of infringement of his fundamental right which qualifies him to commence this action under the fundamental rights enforcement procedure rules; as a result of the failure on the part of the applicant to sustain his first relief based on the fundamental rights enforcement procedure rules, all other reliefs contained therein has failed. Accordingly, based on the judicial authorities cited above, this application is hereby struck out. ” Justice Idris concluded.

Meanwhile in a similar case, a judge, Justice Babangida Hassan refused Osakwe’s application to recuse himself from a suit filed by Ms Waziri challenging him over unlawful entry into her property.   The judge adjourned the case after striking out the application filed by Giwa asking him to recuse himself from hearing the suit over allegations of likelihood of bias. In dismissing the application, Justice Hassan said such bias is a figment of the imagination of Mr Giwa.

Last month, the same Osakwe was arraigned before Justice Binta Murtala-Nyako of the Federal High Court, Abuja over electricity theft. He pleaded not guilty and was granted bail of one million naira and two sureties in like sum. The judge thereafter adjourned the case till May 2, 2023 with strict warning that he must not fail to attend court.

See documents from the Chief Registrar below

Letter from the Chief Registrar of the court page 1
Letter from the Chief Registrar of the court page 1
Letter from the Chief Registrar of the court page 2
Letter from the Chief Registrar of the court page 2

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