Kogi kicks as EFCC gets court nod to seize 14 properties, N400m
The Kogi government has urged Nigerians to ignore what it described as the ridicule the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) has made of the fight against corruption in Nigeria with its “disgraceful fixation on the state in the pursuit of desperate political interests of its Chairman, Abdulrasheed Bawa and his godfathers.”
In a statement yesterday, Commissioner for Information and Communications, Kingsley Fanwo, said the fact that the anti-graft agency could issue a press release titled, ‘Court Orders Interim Forfeiture of 14 properties linked to Kogi State Government’, indicated that “uninformed minds had been picked to oversee the affairs of an agency as important as the EFCC,” adding that the “forfeiture joke is clearly a desperate concoction of confused, unintelligent officials.”
According to him, the state has no property that could be forfeited to the Federal Government under any guise, stating: “It is a campaign of calumny taken too far.”
Justice Nicholas Oweibo of the Federal High Court, Lagos had sanctioned EFCC to temporarily seize 14 properties and firms in Lagos, Abuja and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) linked to some officials of the state government.
He granted the interim forfeiture order yesterday following an ex parte motion by counsel to the anti-graft agency, Rotimi Oyedepo (SAN).
The judge also ordered confiscatation of N400 million recovered from one Aminu Falala in connection with the alleged fraud.
The senior lawyer had told the judge that the application followed Ehis client’s probe of “damning intelligence of monumental fraud allegedly perpetrated by some principal officers of Kogi State government and their cronies.”
He alleged that through the fraud, huge sums of money belonging to the state government were fraudulently converted and used to either acquire properties or renovate existing but dilapidated buildings.
Oyedepo informed the arbiter in suit FHC/L/CS/301/2023 that the properties were reasonably suspected to have been derived from unlawful activity and intended to be used for the acquisition of Plot No. 1224 Bishop Oluwole Street, Victoria Island, Lagos.
The judge directed the applicant to publish the order in a national newspaper within 14 days for any interested party to show cause why the forfeiture order should not be made permanent.
He, subsequently, adjourned till March 28 for a report on compliance with the order.
The EFCC’s motion ex-parte dated February 17, 2023, sought a “preservation order of properties reasonably suspected to have been derived from unlawful activity pursuant to Sections 9 and 10 of the Proceeds of Crime (Recovery and Management) Act, 2022 and Section 44(2) b of the 1999 Constitution (as amended).”
The 14 properties affected by the order include Plot No. 1160, within Cadastral Zone CO3, Gwarimpa II District, Abuja; No. 2, Justice Chukwudifu Oputa Street, Asokoro Abuja; Block ‘D’, Manzini Street, Wuse Zone 4 Abuja; Plot A 02/176 Block 488B, Lome Street, Wuse 1, Abuja; Fair Plus International Limited at No. 2 Kubwa Resettlement Area Cadastral Zone E1, Abuja; Fair Plus International Limited at No 41 Ikorodu Road, Jibowu, Mushin, Lagos State; Fair Plus International Limited at No. 2 Bisi Odunsanya Street, Agege Motor Road, Agege, Lagos State; Plot No. 1773 Guzape District, Abuja and No B13 Citiscape-Shariff Plaza, lying being and situate at plot 739 Aminu Kano Crescent, Wuse 2, Abuja.
The UAE property is Hotel Apartment Community: Burj Khalifa, Plot 160 Municipality NO 345-7562, Sky View Building No 1, Property No 401, Floor 4, Dubai.
Others are: Plot No. 2934A, Cadastral Zone A06, also known as No. 1 Ikogosi Spring Close, Maitama District, Abuja; Plot No. 1058, measuring about 1450.77sqm in Cadastral Zone AO8, Wuse 2, also known as No. 2 Durban Street, Abuja; Plot No. 1981, Maitama District, also known as No. 6 Dala Hills, Abuja and the sum of N400 million allegedly recovered from Falala.
Oyedepo backed the x-parte application with an affidavit deposed to by an EFCC officer, Adekunbi Mojibola, who was part of the team that investigated the case.
Mojibola averred that the Kogi State government opened account number 1010662710 with Zenith Bank Plc named Kogi State Government House Admin.
She declared in her affidavit that the owner of the account between February 2016 and September 3, 2021, procured one Abdulsalam Hudu to make cash withdrawals of N46,039,579,919.38 (billion) from the account.
The deponent claimed that one “Comfort Olufunke was equally procured to make a cash withdrawal of N2,402,533,621.00 (billion) from the same account between March 23, 2016 and April 30, 2018.
She alleged that Hudu, between August 6 and September 29, 2019, “whilst fraudulently working in concert with his syndicate, withdrew in cash the total sum of N612,650,000 (million) from an account known as Kogi State House Administration (Operation) with account number 0793190623 domiciled in Access Bank.
Mojibola held that between February 2016 and October 22, 2021, “Hudu, in a desperate bid to conceal the proceeds of the several unlawful activities whilst working in concert with other principal officers of the state, made a cash withdrawal of N34,206,890,170.50 (billion) from the account known as Government House Admin Lokoja with account number 1003889575 domiciled in United Bank for Africa (UBA Plc).
The deponent further claimed that “a peep into the registers has revealed that about N7,900,000,000 (billion) from the cash withdrawals made by Hudu and his cronies from the account of Kogi State government were concealed in the care and custody of Murtala Maigari and his associates.”
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