Justice Chuka A. Obiozor of the Federal High Court sitting in Ikoyi, Lagos, on Monday, December 10, 2018, ordered the final forfeiture of a number of properties worth N1.8bn recovered from the Executive Director, Projects, Niger Delta Development Commission, NNDC, Tuoyo Omatsuli, to the Federal Government.
The Judge had, on Thursday, May 17, 2018, ordered the interim forfeiture of the properties, following an ex-parte application filed by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC.
The properties are: Block 117, Plot 4, Lekki Peninsula Scheme, TPAO 992, Ikate Ancient City, Eti-Osa L.G.A, Lagos, measuring 1804.089Sqm and Plots 1-18, Block 43, TPAO 992, Ikate Ancient City, Lekki Peninsula, Eti-Osa, Lagos, measuring 10,000Sqm.
Others are: Plot 1b, Northern Business District, Lekki Peninsula Scheme 1, measuring 1000Sqm and Plot 1; Block 25, Lekki Peninsula Residential Scheme 1, Eti-Osa L.G.A, measuring 2989.10Sqm.
Moving the ex-parte application, counsel to the applicant, Ekene Iheanacho, had referred to paragraph four of the affidavit, detailing how a contractor with the NDDC, Starline Consultancy Services Limited, was paid the sum of N10, 218, 019, 060.59) (Ten Billion, Two Hundred and Eighteen Million, Nineteen Thousand and Sixty Naira) as consultancy fee for levies collected from oil processing companies in the Niger Delta Region.
It was further stated that out of the money paid to Starline, a sum of N3, 645, 000. 00 (Three Billion, Six Hundred and Forty- five Thousand Naira) was paid as kickback to Omatsuli through a company named Building Associates Limited.
“Some of the funds were used by Building Associates to buy properties in the name of a company, Don Parker Properties Limited, where Omatsuli had majority shareholding,” Iheanacho had further told the court.
The applicant also told the court that one Francis Momoh, who is described as the majority shareholder in Building Associates Limited, was introduced as a shareholder in Don Parker Properties Limited so as to disguise the nature of the crime.
After hearing the submissions, Justice Obiozor had granted all the reliefs sought by the applicant and ordered the interim forfeiture of the properties to the Federal Government.
The Judge had further directed the Commission to publish the order in any national newspaper within 14 days, notifying the respondents or anyone interested in the properties to appear before the court and show cause why the properties should not be forfeited to the Federal Government of Nigeria.
The applicant, in compliance to the court’s order, had published the interim forfeiture order in The Nation Newspaper of May 26, 2018.
However, the respondents had, on October 1, 2018, opposed the application, claiming ownership of the properties.
Delivering his judgment today, Justice Obiozor held that the properties were acquired through proceeds from kickbacks received by Building Associate Limited operated by Momoh on behalf of Tuoyo.
The Judge, theirefore, ruled that the property should be finally forfeited to the Federal Government.