By Soni Daniel, Northern Region Editor
Justice Saliu Sadu of the Federal High Court sitting in Ikoyi, Lagos, on Thursday, ordered the temporary forfeiture of Flat 7B Osborne Towers, Ikoyi, Lagos, where the sum of $43, 449, 947, £27,800 and N23, 218 belonging to the National Intelligence Agency was found last April, to the Federal Government.
The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, had discovered the sums of $43, 449, 947, £27,800 and N23, 218 kept in iron cabinets and jute bags, otherwise known as ‘Ghana-must-go’ bags, in the apartment on Wednesday, April 12, 2017.
The money had since been permanently forfeited to the Federal Government.
Justice Sadu gave the forfeiture order on the flat following an ex parte application filed by the counsel to the EFCC, Rotimi Oyedepo.
Oyedepo had, on May 5, 2017, revealed that the wife of a former Director-General of the National Intelligence Agency, Ayo Oke, Folashade, owns the apartment.
She was said to have made cash payment of $1.658m for the flat between August 25 and September 3, 2015 in the name of a company, Chobe Ventures Limited.
She and her son, Ayodele Oke Jnr., were said to be directors in the company.
Oke was also said to have made the cash payment in tranches of $700,000, $650,000 and $353,700 to a Bureau de Change operator, Sulah Petroleum and Gas Limited, who later converted the money to N360, 000,000 and subsequently paid it to Fine and Country Limited for the purchase of the property.
In his ruling on the application today, Justice Sadu directed the EFCC to publish the forfeiture order within 14 days in any of the national dailies as notice to Chobe Ventures, its directors or any interested persons to appear before the court to show cause why the property should not be permanently forfeited to the Federal Government.
The case was adjourned to November 30, 2017.
Meanwhile, barely two weeks after the former National Intelligence Agency Director General, Amb. Ayodele Oke, was sacked by President Muhammadu Buhari, a Federal High Court has ordered the forfeiture of the $43 million, $43,449,947, £27,800 and N23,218,000 found in his wife’s Ikoyi apartment in April this year, to the federal government.
This happened as the Chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, Ibrahim Magu, said that there was enormous reward for whistleblowers in the country and pleaded with more Nigerians to blow the lid in stolen public funds and property and get the promised benefits attached to the gesture.
It also emerged that the unnamed young Nigerian, who led the security agents to unravel the huge cash in the Ikoyi home, is being counselled by the EFCC on how he could possible use the hundreds of millions of Naira accruing to him as a percentage of the amount recovered through his intelligence to the security agents.
The EFCC had taken its prayers to the FHC in Lagos, asking it to permanently confiscate the huge cash to the federal government since it was obvious to the agency that the money was from the proceeds of corruption.
In responding to the EFCC prayers, Muslim Hassan ordered the forfeiture of the amount to the government.
Hassan said, “I am in complete agreement with the submission of the learned counsel for the applicant (EFCC) that the property sought to be attached are reasonably suspected to be proceeds of unlawful activities and that by every standard this huge sum of money is not expected to be kept without going through a designated financial institution.
“More so, nobody has shown cause why the said sum should not be forfeited to the federal government of Nigeria. Having regard to the foregoing, I have no other option than to grant this application as prayed”
Apparently excited about the seizure, the Acting Chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, Ibrahim Magu, yesterday, called on Nigerians who want a positive change in the country to take advantage of the whistle blowing policy announced by the government early this year and expose more looters and earn money in the process.
Magu, who made the plea at the ongoing 7th Session of the Conference of State Parties to the United Nations Convention Against Corruption holding in Vienna, Austria said aside from contributing to the eradication of corruption, potential whistleblowers also stand of benefitting from the illicit acquisition by the looters.
According to him, the young man who blew the whistle on the $43,449,947, £27,800 and N23,218,000 recovered on April 7, 2017 by the EFCC in an apartment located at 16, Osborne Road, Ikoyi is already a millionaire by virtue of the percentage he is officially entitled to.
Magu said, “We are currently working on the young man because this is just a man who has not seen one million naira of his own before. So he is under counselling on how to make good use of the money and also the security implication. We don’t want anything bad to happen to him after taking delivery of his entitlement. He is national pride”, he said.
“So we encourage more whistle blowers to come forward with genuine information that will lead to recoveries from looters of public treasuries. That is part of the ways we can put an end to the looting madness in the public sector.
“When they know that they have no place to keep the loot, as all eyes are on them, they will find looting of public treasuries unattractive “.