Court orders final forfeiture of N280m from Obinwanne Okeke to FG
The Federal High Court sitting in Lagos has ordered the final forfeiture of the sum of N280,555,010 traced to Obinwanne Okeke to the Federal Government.
Justice Rilwan Aikawa ordered the forfeiture following the submissions of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) counsel Rotimi Oyedepo.
The EFCC lawyer had told the court that the funds were warehoused in the Nigerian bank accounts of Invictus Oil and Gas Limited and Invictus Investment Limited, respectively.
The anti-graft agency had also said the two firms were owned by Invictus Obi whom it described as, “a strong leader of a cyber-crime syndicate that specialises in business e-mail compromise.”
The court had first ordered a temporary forfeiture of the money on Monday, October 7.
Okeke, a celebrated Nigerian entrepreneur and a Forbes Africa 30 Under 30 honoree is currently remanded in jail in the United States of America where he is standing trial over an alleged $11m cyber fraud.
He was arraigned in an American court on August 9 on charges of computer and wire fraud.
But Okeke pleaded not guilty to two counts of wire and computer fraud of about $11m fraud at his first hearing.
United States’ Federal Bureau of Investigation said Okeke and at least six other persons were involved in the crimes.
“There is a probable cause to believe Okeke has conspired with several individuals to access computers without authorisation and using such access to cause the fraudulent wire transfer of funds,” FBI’s special agent Marshall Ward said in an affidavit he deposed to before Justice Lawrence Leonard, in Norfolk, Virginia, on August 2.
The affidavit also sought a warrant to arrest Okeke who was in the United States at the time.
The grand jury ordered that Okeke should be made to forfeit at least $11 million in asset and an emerald shaped diamond engagement ring found on him when he was first arrested by federal agents as he was about leaving the U.S. on August 6.
Okeke will remain in custody till 2020 without bond as he awaits trial on two counts of wire and computer fraud of about $11m fraud, a judge ruled Monday.
The presiding judge Douglas Miller at the Newport News Virginia federal courthouse said the case is “complex”, hence Okeke should be remanded in prison until February 18, 2020, when the trial would continue.