Court orders forfeiture of N426.7m linked to retired Army General
The Federal High Court, Lagos, yesterday, ordered the final forfeiture to the Federal Government of the sum of N426.7 million belonging to a retired Brigadier-General of the Nigerian Army, John Onimisi Ozigi.
Justice Muslim Hassan made the order following a motion on notice seeking final forfeiture of the sum.
The judge said that the respondent failed to satisfy the court with concrete evidence on why monies suspected to be proceeds of unlawful activities should not be forfeited to Federal Government.
“The application has met the conditions stipulated in Section 17 of the Advanced Free Fraud and Related Offences Act.
“The application is meritorious and it is hereby granted as prayed,” the judge said.
The application was filed by counsel to the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), Mr Nkereuwem Anana.
Joined as respondents in the suit are John Onimisi Ozigi, and a company, Diamond Head Ventures and Development Company Ltd.
Justice Hassan had earlier issued an interim order for forfeiture of the sum, following an exparte application filed by the EFCC.
He had then ordered interested parties to appear and show cause why the interim orders should not be made permanent.
In March, the EFCC argued its application for final forfeiture of the sum on the grounds that they were reasonably suspected to be proceeds of unlawful activities.
The Court had then adjourned the case until April 6, 2020, for judgment.
Meanwhile, following the COVID-19 pandemic, judgment could not be delivered and counsel were informed of a new date.
In his judgment yesterday, Justice Hassan granted the motion for final forfeiture as prayed by the EFCC.
In the suit numbered FHC/L/CS/1094/18, the anti-graft agency had prayed for an order, finally forfeiting to the Federal Government, the total sum of N426.7 million found in the account of the respondent.
The EFCC in an affidavit deposed to by one of its operatives, Clever Ibrahim, stated that the first respondent is an officer of the Nigerian Army, while the second respondent is a business name owned and incorporated by the first respondent under the law of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.
The deponent also stated that the first respondent is a salary earner and a public officer at the rank of brigadier general in the Army and an estimated salary of about N750, 000 per month.
He also stated that intelligence information revealed that monies had been found in an account opened in the name of the first and second respondents that is not reasonably justifiable and commensurate with the first respondent legitimate income
According to the Commission, the sum is reasonably suspected to be crime proceeds. He averred that the first respondent was confronted with respect to the sums in the account and he made a statement to the commission.
He said that in the said statement, the respondent had indicated willingness to refund the money to the Federal Government, adding that the said statement was attached as EXHIBH EFCC 3.
He had argued that the order if made, will serve the course of justice, as same is sought in good faith and in accordance with the Oaths Act.
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