January 23, 2020

Court orders interim forfeiture of $376,120 traced to Army Chief, Otiki

Hakeem Otiki, Army
Major General Hakeem Otiki on wheelchair

By Ikechukwu Nnochiri – Abuja

The Abuja Division of the Federal High Court, on Wednesday, ordered the interim forfeiture of the sum of $376, 120 allegedly seized from Major General Hakeem Otiki, to the Federal Government.

The order followed an ex-parte motion marked FHC/ABJ/CS/1380/20, which the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, brought before the court.

Trial Justice Ijeoma Ojukwu directed the EFCC to publish the interim forfeiture order in a national daily to enable persons in whose possession the funds sought to be forfeited was found, or anyone who is interested in the funds sought to be forfeited, to appear before the court to show cause within 14 days why a final order of forfeiture of the funds should not be made.

EFCC, through its lawyer, Ekele Iheanacho, told the court that the fund which was estimated at about N136,155,440 was part of proceeds of corruption.

It alleged that Major General Otiki who is currently standing trial before the Army Court Marshall, had sometimes last year, detailed some soldiers to provide VIP escort from Sokoto to Kaduna for one Alhaji Ado Aliyu, alongside the sum of N400 million.

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The agency said the soldiers fled with the money with their whereabouts unknown.

In a supporting affidavit that was deposed to by a lead investigator, Alvan Gurumnaan, EFCC, said it had on the strength of intelligence it received, carried out several investigations.

It said the investigation included, “making inquiries from the office of the Chief of Army Staff, the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), commercial banks, Corporate Affairs Commission, Code of Conduct Bureau, Salaries and Wages Commission, interviewing witnesses and suspects with a view to unravel the fraud, tracing the movements of funds suspected to be proceeds of illegal activities, source of the funds, the beneficiaries, amongst others”.

According to the Commission, its investigation so far revealed that: “Major General Otiki was a serving military officer and the immediate-past General Officer Commanding Division of the Nigerian Army, Sokoto. He was the chief accounting officer of the division.

“That one Alhaji Ado, together with his son, Adamu Aliyu, is into the business of Bureau De Change (BDC). They are business associates of Major General Otiki as they assisted him (Otiki) in operating his BDC business known as Karama BDC.

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“That Major General Otiki whilst still in public service acquired Karama BDC Nigeria Ltd. in 2014. Out of the company’s 35, 000, 000 share capital, he had 22,000,000 shares.

“Similarly, Maj. General Otiki is also the highest shareholder in Danest Hotel and Suites Nigeria Limited and Daniest Nigeria Ltd.

“The office addresses of the BDC and hotel are respectively in Lagos and Ibadan”.

It alleged that Major General Otiki was the sole signatory of the bank accounts of the said companies in Jaiz Bank, UBA Plc, FCMB Plc and Access Bank Plc.

The deponent further averred that Otiki had despite his uncovered involvement, denied having any enterprise or shares in any company in Nigeria in the assets declaration form he completed and submitted in 2016.

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It said: “That on March 9, 2019, being the day for the governorship election in Sokoto State, Major General Otiki invited Alhaji Ado to Sokoto and sold the sum of N100, 000, 000. 00 in cash to the said Alhaji Ado in exchange for the equivalent sum of USD277, 700 (at the agreed exchange rate). The said USD277, 700 was paid in cash to Major General Otiki.

“To facilitate the above unofficial transaction, Major General Otiki provided detailed military security escort for Alhaji Ado from Kaduna to Sokoto and back to Kaduna.

“That he Nigerian Army Headquarters specifically released special intervention funds to the 8 Division of the Nigerian Army headed by Major General Otiki for the purpose of improving on the infrastructure within the said 8 Division,” he said.

EFCC gave details of funds it said was released as N150 million into 8 Division’s CBN account number: 0150459961048 on March 24, 2019; N50 million into 8 Division’s Fidelity Bank number: 5030063086 on June 18, 2019, and N160 million into 8 Division’s CBN account number: 0150459961048 on July 5, 2019.

Meanwhile, Justice Ojukwu adjourned the case till February 24.

Vanguard News Nigeria.