Again, Court Orders Final Forfeiture Of $1.4m Linked To Emefiele

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The Federal High Court, sitting in Lagos has ordered the final forfeiture to the Federal Government, of the sum of $1.4 million, linked to a former Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) Governor Godwin Emefiele.

Justice Ayokunle Faji gave the order after hearing an application filed and argued by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).

This order is coming a few days after another judge of the same court, Justice Chukwujekwu Aneke, ordered the final forfeiture of over N12.18bn in money and properties linked to the same Emefiele.

At Tuesday’s proceedings, counsel to the EFCC, Bilkisu Buhari-Bala, urged Justice Faji to grant the final forfeiture order of the money, domiciled in an account number in Titan Trust Limited, to the Nigeria government.

The EFCC counsel told the court that the application is pursuant to Section 17 of the Advance Fee Fraud and Other Fraud-related Offences Act No. 14 2006, and section 44 (2)(B) of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.

Buhari also told the court that the application for the final forfeiture of the said sum has been established to be proceeds of unlawful activities.

The applicant was supported by an affidavit deposed to by one David Jayeoba, an Investigating Officer with the EFCC, alongside a written address.

In the affidavit, the deponent stated that his Commission received credible and direct intelligence which led to the tracing of funds reasonably suspected to be proceeds of unlawful activities, warehoused in the Donatone Limited (DL) Titan Trust Bank account, which funds are reasonably suspected to be part of proceeds of unlawful activities.

He said that the Commission, whilst investigating the monumental fraud carried out by the erstwhile CBN governor and his cronies, discovered a huge amount of money warehoused and concealed in the account of (DL) domiciled in Titan Trust Bank. According to him, some of the brains behind the fraudulent concealment of funds reasonably suspected to have been proceeds of unlawful activities of Emefiele are the natural persons behind DL: Uzeobo Anthony and Adebanjo Olurotimi who are directors of DL.

The deponent also stated “that part of the said funds, which represent the proceeds of Godwin Emefiele and his cronies’ unlawful activities, are retained in the accounts now sought to be forfeited.

“That Uzeobo Anthony and Adebanjo Olurotimi were procured by Godwin Emefiele to conceal, retain, and disguise funds reasonably suspected to be proceeds of unlawful activities.

“Between 2021 and 2022, when accessibility to Forex in Nigeria was difficult, several international entities operating in Nigeria had to resort to different means to source Forex.

“That both Uzeobo Anthony and Adebanjo Olurotimi used to collect bribes and gratification on behalf of (GE) to get approval for accessing Forex. And that one of the entities paid a total sum of twenty-six million five hundred and fifty-give thousand million Dollars ($26,552,000.00) into the account of (DL) domiciled in Titan Trust account number 2000000500.

“The said credits came into the account on the 9th of November 2021: $6,450,000; 15th of November 2021: $6,050,000.00; 16th of December 2021: $5,400,000.00; 23rd of December 2021: $652,000, 31th January 2022: $3,000,000.00 and on the 21st September 2022: $5,000,000.00. Find attached and marked EFCC 1 the Titan Trust bank account of Donatus Limited evidencing the inflows.

“The investigation traced the funds to having been fixed into interest-yielding accounts, dissipated and laundered through a foreign account in Mauritius, and transported back to Nigeria under disguise.

“That of the total sum of $26, 555, 000.00 US dollars received by Donatus Limited, the balance standing in the said account as of today is the sum of one million four hundred and twenty-six Thousand one hundred and seventy-five (US $1,426, 175. 14).

“That it is the balance in the account that the applicant (EFCC) seeks to forfeit to the Federal Government of Nigeria which has been traced to be the proceeds of unlawful activities of (GE) and his cronies.

“That investigation further revealed that the international entities sourcing for forex were pressured into parting with huge funds to access forex during the period. And that the signatories to the account warehousing the sum of ($1,426, 175.14) sought to be forfeited are at large and are making frantic efforts to dissipate the funds electronically.

“Based on our investigation findings, the funds sought to be forfeited are proceeds of unlawful activities of Godwin Emefiele and his cronies. And that the applicant secured an interim forfeiture order of the Honourable Court on the 29th day of May 2024 to forfeit the sum of $1, 426, 175.14 warehoused in Titan Trust Bank to the Federal Government of Nigeria in the interim. Attached and marked EFCC 3 is the Honorable Court’s order dated 29th May 2024.

“The Honorable Court ordered that the order be published in a national daily. The said order was carried out and the applicant published the order in the Punch Newspaper on the 6th of June 2024. Attached and marked EFCC 4 is the said order.”

In ordering the final forfeiture of the money after listening to the submission of the EFCC lawyer, the court held that: “having been satisfied with the application and submission of Counsel, I hereby granted the prayer finally forfeiting the said funds in question.”

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