Ikoyi Towers Loot: Court Orders Final Forfeiture of $43.4m, £27.8, N23.2 To FG


BY AMOS DUNIA, ABUJA – Justice Muslim Hassan of the Federal High Court, Ikoyi, Lagos on Tuesday ordered the final forfeiture of the sums of $43,449,947, £27,800 and N23,218,000 recovered in an apartment at Osborne Road, Ikoyi, Lagos to the federal government.

Operatives of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), had, on April 12, 2017, stormed a four-bedroom apartment on the seventh floor of Osborne Towers located on 16, Osborne Road, Ikoyi, Lagos, where the large sums of money was uncovered

The operation followed a Whistle-blower confidential alert received by the EFCC’s office in Lagos in the early hours of April 12, 2017.

Accordingly, the Commission on April 13, 2017, obtained an interim court order forfeiting the funds to the Federal Government.

In his ruling, Justice Muslim had given 14 days within which anyone interested in the funds to appear before him to show cause why the money should not be permanently forfeited to the Federal Government.

At the next adjourned date on May 5, 2017, counsel to the EFCC, Rotimi Oyedepo, revealed that the wife of the suspended Director-General of the National Intelligence Agency, Ayo Oke, paid a princely $1.658m to acquire the Osborne flat.

Oke was said to have made a cash payment of $1.658m for the purchase of the flat between August 25 and September 3, 2015 in the name of a company, ‘Chobe Ventures Limited’, adding that she and her son, Ayodele Oke Junior, were said to be directors in the company.

Oke was also said to have made the cash payment in tranches of $700,000, $650,000 and $353,700 to a Bureau de Change, Sulah Petroleum and Gas Limited, which later converted the money to N360,000,000 and subsequently paid it to Fine and Country Limited for the purchase of the property.

Oyedepo further said; “The circumstances leading to the discovery of the huge cash stockpiled in Flat 7B, Osborne Towers, leaves no one in doubt that the act was pursuant to an unlawful activity.

“The very act of making cash payment of $1.6m without going through any financial institution by Mrs. Folashade Oke for the acquisition of Flat 7B, Osborne Towers, is a criminal act punishable by the Money Laundering (Prohibition) Amendment Act. I refer My Lord to sections 1(a), 16(d) and 16(2)(b) of the Money Laundering (Prohibition) Amendment Act.”

While urging the court to order the permanent forfeiture of the funds to the Federal Government, Oyedepo argued that the property, which was purchased in a criminal manner, made the money recovered therein to be proceeds of unlawful acts.

The EFCC counsel further said that despite the newspaper advertisement of the initial order of April 13, 2017 temporarily forfeiting the money to the Federal Government, no one showed up in court to show cause why the money should not be permanently forfeited to the Federal Government.

During the proceedings, a private legal practitioner, Olukoya Ogungbeje, had filed an application urging the court to suspend further action in the forfeiture proceedings pending the outcome of the Vice-President Yemi Osinbajo three-man panel constituted by President Muhammadu Buhari to investigate the claim by the NIA boss, Oke, that the money belongs to the agency.

But, counsel to  the EFCC opposed Ogungbeje’s application and urged the court to proceed with the final forfeiture proceedings.

In his Tuesday’s ruling, Justice Hassan upheld Oyedepo’s submission and dismissed Ogungbeje’s application for lacking in merit saying that Ogungbeje’s application is totally strange, adding that Ogungbeje had no right to seek a stay of proceedings in the case, since he did not appeal against the interim forfeiture order.

The judge, who noted that Ogungbeje was not a party in the suit filed by the EFCC, described the lawyer as a “meddlesome interloper and a busybody,” adding that his application was strange to law.

Thereafter, Justice Hassan gave an order permanently forfeiting the funds to the Federal Government.

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