Court to rule on Lagos Finance Director's N28.5m, Houses Jan. 31

Justice must take its course

Court gavel

A Federal High Court in Lagos has fixed January 31, 2018 to either issue an order for the final forfeiture of the sum of N28.5 million, and some houses owned by a Director of Finance in the Department of Works, to the Federal Government or Lagos State Government.

The court fixed the date after listening to all parties that have shown interests in the matter.

The presiding Judge, Rilwan Aikawa had on December 7, 2017, ordered that the sum of N28.5 million, found in the account of a Director of Account, Lagos State Ministry of Public Works Corporation, Anifowoshe Alade, be temporarily forfeited to the Federal Government of Nigeria, for being proceeds of unlawful activities.

Justice Aikawa made the order while granting an Ex-parte application filed before the court by the lawyers to the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), Mr. Rotimi Oyedepo, against the Director of Account in the said ministry.

Apart from the said sum, the judge also ordered that six flats of three bedroom, another six flats of two bedroom, and six flats of 1 bedroom, located at Adewale Osiyeku Street, Offin-Ile Igbogbo-Ikorodu, Lagos: and four flats of three Bedroom duplex, located at 6, Tunde Gabby Close, Dopemu Area Pako Bus Stop, Agege, Lagos, belonging to the Director of Account, be temporarily forfeited to the Federal government of Nigeria.

The court also ordered interim forfeiture of a semi-detached three bedroom flat, and one unit of three bedroom terrance at Cranbel Court, Citiview Estate Arepo, Ogun State, as well as a plot of land situated at Queen’s Garden Estate off Lagos-Ibadan Expressway, to the Federal Government of Nigeria, for also being proceeds of unlawful activities.

After granting the request, the judge ordered EFCC to publish the order granted in a national newspaper notifying the respondent in whose possession the properties sought to be forfeited are found and recovered to appear before the court and show cause within 14 days why the properties should not be forfeited to the Federal Government of Nigeria.

At the resumed hearing of the matter on Tuesday, counsel to the Director of Accounts, Mr. Wole Okeniile argued that EFCC has not been able to prove their allegations, pointing out that he who alleges must prove with fact and not “reasonably suspected” as it was used in their ex-parte motion.

Okeniile further stated that the land which situates the property which EFCC seeks to be forfeited to the Federal government was purchased in the year 2000, at N50, 000, saying that it is for the EFCC to prove that such property was acquired with a proceeds of unlawful activities.

He also submitted that EFCC must be able to prove the allegation that the sum of N106.095 million was found in the account of Anifowose and N223 million in the account of Maj Anny International Limited’s account.

He said the body of proof is on the EFCC to show that the properties sought to be forfeited to the Federal Government is discharged, not for the EFCC dumping the documents on the court.

He therefore urged the court to discountenance EFCC application against his client, and dismiss same accordingly.

However, appearing in the matter, Mr. Saheed Quadri, a Director of Civil Litigation, Lagos State Ministry of Justice, urged the court to forfeit the properties sought to be forfeited to the Lagos State Government not the Federal Government, saying that it was Lagos State Government’s fund that was diverted.

Responding , EFCC counsel, Rotimi Oyedepo, said in view of the failure of the respondents’ to filed a counter affidavit why the said sum and properties should not be forfeited to Federal Government, all facts deposed to in support of EFCC motion had been deemed to have been admitted by the respondent.

He, therefore, urged the court to grant the application for the final forfeiture of the said sum and the properties. On the submission of the lawyer to the Lagos State Government, Oyedepo pleaded with the court to forfeit the said sum and properties to the Federal Government of Nigeria, saying that the state and Federal government will know how to settle it among themselves.

Justice Aikawa after listening to the submissions of all parties, adjourned till January 31, for ruling.