Court orders final forfeiture of N2.5 billion linked to NAF ex-chief, Amosu, others
The Federal High Court, Lagos yesterday ordered the final forfeiture of N2.2billion recovered from former Chief of Air Staff, Air Marshal Adesola Amosu (rtd).
Justice Mojisola Olatoregun made the order based on an application by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).
The judge ordered that the total sum of N2,244,500,000 found and recovered by the commission from Amosu be paid into the Federal Government’s Treasury Single Account (TSA) with the Guarantee Trust Bank (GTB).
Justice Olatoregun agreed with the EFCC that the money is reasonably suspected to be proceeds of unlawful activity. She also ordered the final forfeiture of N190, 828,978.15 recovered from a former Nigeria Air Force (NAF) Director of Finance and Budget, Air Commodore Olugbenga Gbadebo. Also forfeited is N101 million recovered from Solomon Enterprises, a company linked to Amosu.
Justice Olatoregun held that EFCC complied with the orders made last June 7, including that the interim forfeiture be advertised in two national newspapers so that the respondents or anyone interested can show cause as to why the final order of forfeiture should not be made in favour of the Federal Government.
The judge dismissed counter-affidavits by Amosu and Gbadebo, holding that they did not justify the money’s ownership. She also dismissed their argument that they were currently undergoing trial over the same sums sought to be forfeited and that granting the final forfeiture order would foist a fait accompli on the trial court.
The judge said the forfeiture proceedings was an action in rem and a non-conviction based forfeiture.
“The requirements for the two proceedings are different and distinct,” she held.
Olatoregun emphasised that in a forfeiture proceedings, evidential burden shifts to the respondents to prove that they obtained the money lawfully, which she said they failed to do.
“The case (forfeiture) can go in the face of the criminal proceedings,” she said.
According to her, the respondents did not provide any justification for the court not to grant EFCC’s application.
“They failed to provide any facts as to the level of probability to ascertain if the funds were obtained lawfully,” the judge held, concluding that the funds are proceeds of an unlawful activity.
She, therefore, directed the EFCC to file an affidavit of compliance within 14 days.
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