A Federal High Court, Lagos, has ordered the forfeiture of N1.825bn belonging to the former Chief of Naval Staff, Admiral Dele Ezeoba, to the Federal Government.
Delivering a ruling on Thursday, Justice Muslim Sule Hassan of a Federal High Court sitting in Ikoyi, Lagos, said the EFCC has been able to prove the case against the defendant.
Counsel to the EFCC Rotimi Oyedepo in the application said it was brought in pursuant to the provision of Section 17 of the Advanced Fee Fraud Act 2006.
Other defendants in the suit are: Chukwuka Onwuchekwa and Aquila Leasing Ltd.
Recall that Justice Hassan had on March 15, 2017, granted an order of interim forfeiture of the said sum.
The Judge equally gave an order, mandating the Commission to do a publication of same in a national newspaper for the knowledge of interested parties.
In the judgment, Justice Hassan declared a final forfeiture of the total sum of N1.825bn to the Federal Government
The court maintained that, “The EFCC having complied with the provisions of section 17 of the Advanced Fee Fraud Act, as well the EFCC Act, and the fact that the property is unclaimed, it was appropriate to make the orders.
“Having satisfied that such property is an unclaimed property, and also satisfying the provisions of the law, the court shall order the final forfeiture of the said property.
“In this view, there is no other proof required to enable the court make an order of final forfeiture; this application is meritorious and hereby granted.
“An order is hereby made for final forfeiture of the total sum of N1.825bn to the Federal Government of Nigeria.”
Prior to the judgment, the anti-graft agency had claimed that the money was traced to the account of Aquila Leasing Ltd, adding that Ezeoba had agreed in his statement to the EFCC to forfeit the sum.
Oyedepo said “The money was proceed of crime fraudulently diverted from the Nigerian Navy under the leadership of Dele Joseph Ezeoba.
“Ezeoba used the name of Chukwuka Onwuchekwa to open a fraudulent account in disguise, while he was the one who truly laundered the money.
“The former Naval Chief stated in his statement that the account was opened with Onwuchekwa’s consent while he (Ezeoba) managed it.
“In a desperate bid to further disguise and conceal the illicit source of the funds, Ezeoba entered into a memorandum of understanding to buy Aquila’s shares from Onwucheka, who is its Managing Director (MD).
“The shares were worth N2.4 billion out of which about N1.83 billion has been recovered in drafts in favour of the Federal Government.”