The Supreme Court has for the second time, refused the request by Alhaji Ali Abacha, a brother to the late Head of State, Sani Abacha, to unfreeze accounts traced to him and relatives of the late Abacha in the United Kingdom; Switzerland; Jersey; Liechtenstein; and Luxembourg.
In a unanimous judgment on Friday, January 22, a five-man panel of the court, led by Justice Sylvester Ngwuta held that Ali Abacha’s case was statute-barred; as at when it commenced in April 2004, at the Federal High Court in Kaduna.
The judgment was in the appeal marked: SC/359/2010, filed by Alhaji Ali Abacha, said to be a brother of the late Gen Sani Abacha.
In the lead judgment prepared by Justice Kudirat Kekere-Ekun, but read on Friday by Justice Ejembi Eko; the court held that having dismissed a similar appeal in an earlier judgment given in February last year; it had no reason to depart from its reasoning; in that case brought by Alhaji Abba Mohammed Sani on behalf of the Abacha family.
The court said it noticed that the appellant, in this appeal, was represented by Reuben Atabo;who, incidentally, was the appellant’s counsel in the earlier appeal.
“No new superior arguments were proffered here; to warrant a departure from the decision in the case of Alhaji Sani, earlier decided. This appeal fails, and it is hereby dismissed.”
The appeal was against the July 19, 2010, unanimous judgment of the Court of Appeal, Kaduna division, in which a three-man panel set aside the Sept. 24, 2004 judgment by Justice Mohammed Liman of the Federal High Court, Kaduna, earlier given in favour of Ali Abacha.
Abacha prayed the court to, among others, void the freezing of the accounts on the grounds that the AGF lacked the powers under the Banking (Freezing of Accounts Act, Cap 29, Laws of Nigeria, on which he claimed to have acted, to request the foreign nations to freeze his accounts and those of the companies in which he was a director.
Justice Liman, in his judgment of Sept. 24, 2004, upheld the claims by Ali Abacha; and granted all the reliefs sought, a decision that the AGF, listed as the sole defendant, appealed at the Court of Appeal, Kaduna division.