LHC bars NAB from arresting Hamza Shahbaz till Monday

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LAHORE: The Lahore High Court (LHC) on Saturday barred the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) Lahore from arresting Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) leader and Punjab Assembly’s Opposition Leader Hamza Shehbaz after he filed a pre-arrest bail plea to avoid his detention in the assets beyond known sources of income and money laundering cases.
Earlier, the petition has been set for hearing on April 8 following directives of the top judge of the LHC, who later gave a protective bail to Hamza Shahbaz on urgent basis.
A two-member bench comprising of Justice Malik Shehzad and Justice Waqas Rauf presided over hearing of the plea.
In the petition, Hamza had claimed that NAB’s team had carried out a raid at his residence without a prior notice while the LHC has instructed officials to give a prior notice before his arrest.
The plea further pleaded with the court for suspending the arrest warrants and an action against the NAB for “contempt of court”.
On Saturday, a team of the NAB once again swooped on the 96-H house, believed to be Shehbaz Sharif’s residence, allegedly because Hamza Shehbaz was “not cooperating” in the ongoing investigation in the case.
Contrarily, the NAB, in a press release, disclosed that its Lahore team had raided the residence for arresting him in the assets beyond means case and a money laundering case.
Importantly, the press release noted that the Supreme Court has made it very clear that NAB did not need to inform suspects prior to their arrest.
Moreover, the NAB statement maintained, “Therefore, there has been a clear violation of the law by Hamza Shehbaz.”
“Those who interfere in NAB’s legal action and the operations of the state will be proceeded against as per the law,” the statement added.
Besides, a First Information Report (FIR) was also lodged on Saturday against Hamza Shehbaz’s guards on an application filed by the NAB over the matter that Hamza’s guards had manhandled members of the NAB team, tore their clothes, and threatened their lives.
According to police, the FIR includes clauses of interference in official matters, torture, hooliganism and issuance of threats.
The FIR has been registered against NAB driver Mumtaz Hussain’s application that states when the bureau team reached Shehbaz’s Model Town residence and showed the security guards namely Abdul Rehman, Shahbaz Khan and Muhammad Saleem the arrest warrants for Hamza, they and six other guards attacked the bureau team.
Earlier on Saturday, the NAB got a green signal from an accountability court for arresting Hamza.
The court allowed NAB officials to force entry into Shehbaz‘s residence to arrest Hamza where he has been residing, however directed them to exercise minimum use of power.
NAB team present outside ex-Punjab CM’s Model Town residence had also called in Rangers to assist the action.
A heavy contingent of police was deployed to avoid any untoward situation and all roads leading to the residence were blocked.
Meanwhile, scores of PML-N workers had also gathered at the main entrance to the house and faced an intense standoff with security personnel.
Many party workers were observed trying to break through barriers placed by police, and clashed with officers. Other workers have been chanting full-throat slogans against police and the government.
NAB Additional Director Chaudhry Asghar, while speaking to the media, outside Shahbaz’s residence in Model Town area of Lahore said, “Hamza Shahbaz should not hide inside the home. We are here to arrest Hamza and we should be allowed to go inside the house.”
“We have Hamza s arrest warrant. Popular politician is trying to evade his arrest,” he said, adding that the department has completed all legal formalities before the action.
“We will not leave without arresting Hamza,” he asserted.
NAB sources revealed that Hamza Shahbaz had declared property worth 2 crore in 2003 while his assets grew 2000 percent during the PML-N government. The opposition leader had illegally laundered 85 billions abroad, the sources told.
The officials claimed that they have already detained Sharif family’s facilitators while more arrests are also likely.

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