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Unclaimed N450 Million: Court Orders Permanent Forfeiture to FG

LAGOS, NIGERIA (AFRICAN EXAMINER) – A Federal High Court sitting in Lagos has ordered permanent forfeiture of the sum of N449, 597,000 found in April inside a Bureau DE Change in Victoria Island, Lagos.

The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) on getting the hint about the huge sum lodged in the abandoned BDG office approached the court and prayed it to pronounce its permanent forfeiture.

EFCC argued that the money was proceeds of illegal business transactions by yet to be identified suspect. The agency therefore filed an application praying Justice Rilwan Aikawa to order the money’s forfeiture to the Federal Government (FG).  

  The Friday ruling by Justice Aikawa was sequel to a motion on notice filed before him by the EFCC Counsel Mr. Idris Mohammed.

It would be recalled that the Jurist during the hearing held on April 19, 2017 ordered the temporary forfeiture of the money and subsequently adjourned next hearing till Friday, May 19, 2017.

The judge then held that a respondent, Mohammed Tauheed and other interested parties in the suit should appear before the court and proffer reasons why the cash should not be finally forfeited to the FG.

At the hearing Friday, counsel to the EFCC, Mr. Mohammed, informed the judge that the interim order as ordered on April 19 had been advertised in the newspaper on May 11, 2017, so as to bring the case to the notice of Tauheed and any interested party. The publication he added, also served as the motion on notice

Consequently, Mohammed prayed the court to order the final forfeiture of the money since neither the identified respondents nor other parties showed up in the court to give reasons as earlier ordered by the court.

Justice Aikawa in his ruling granted the EFCC Counsel’s application and held that the court, among others, ordered  the respondent, and any other interested party to show reasons, within 14 days, why the interim forfeiture of N449,597,000 should not be reversed.

He clarified that as far as his record showed; neither the respondent nor any other interested party has filed any affidavit or any other process to show reason why the interim order should not be made final.

The judge also held that the respondent has in addition, not filed any process in response to the motion on notice, saying in the circumstances, he has ”no option but to grant the application as prayed”.

“Accordingly, I hereby ordered that the sum of N449,597,000 found in possession of the respondent, which sum is reasonably suspected to be proceeds of an unlawful activity, be finally forfeited to the Federal Government” Justice Aikawa ruled.

Earlier, an investigator with the EFCC, Mr. Moses Awolusi, had testified in an affidavit filed before the judge, that operatives of the EFCC found the sum on April 7, 2017 in several Ghana Must Go bags in a shop with address: LS64, located inside the Legico Shopping Plaza, Victoria island, Lagos.

 

 

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