Money Laundering: EFCC Seeks Final Forfeiture of Ikoyi Flat

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Parts of the laundered money found in the flat

The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) has urged Justice Saliu Saidu of a Federal High Court, Lagos, for final forfeiture order of a property described as; Flat 7B situated at No. 16, Osborne Road, Ikoyi, Lagos, where it discovered the sums of $43,449,947, £27,800 and N23, 218,000 (about N13 billion) on April 12, 2017, in iron cabinets and “Ghana-must-go” bags to the Federal Government.

The judge had on November 9, 2017, while granting an ex-parte motion by the EFCC ordered the temporary forfeiture of the apartment to the government.

Justice Saidu had then directed the EFCC to notify the sole respondent to the suit, Chobe Ventures Limited, to appear before him in a fortnight to show cause why the flat should not be permanently forfeited to the Federal Government.

The anti-graft agency was also directed to publicize the interim order in a national daily for the respondent or anyone interested in the property to show cause within two weeks why a final forfeiture order should not be made on the property.

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Mrs. Folashade Oke, the wife of the sacked Director General of the Nigeria Intelligence Agency (NIA), Ambassador Ayo Oke, was named by the EFCC as the owner of the flat.

Arguing the motion for permanent forfeiture yesterday, EFCC’s lawyer, Rotimi Oyedepo, argued that Section 17 of The Advance Fee Fraud and other Fraud Related Offences Act 2006 empowers the court to order the final forfeiture of the property.

He added that Section 44 (2) (k) of the Constitution also permits the take-over of a property in view of an enquiry.

“This motion has its root in the Constitution and we urged the court to grant it in view of the fact that Chobe Ventures which allegedly used proceeds of unlawful activities to acquire the property in issue had not controverted the averrments as to the source of the money”, he said.

Earlier, an interested party, Union Bank Plc, had urged the court to discharge the interim order of forfeiture placed on the property.

The bank’s lawyer, E. N. Ayuba, told Justice Saidu that his client filed the motion seeking the discharge of the interim order to protect its interest in the property.

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The bank in an affidavit in support of the motion deposed to by one Alfred Olukayode Edun, argued that the forfeited flat was part of the property situated at 16, Osborne Rd, Ikoyi, Lagos, belonging to one, Alhaji Ahmadu Adamu Muazu, by virtue of a certificate of occupancy dated 27th September, 2009 and registered as 97/97/2009 in the Lands Registry Office, Alausa, Lagos.

The bank also said Alhaji Muazu has already mortgaged the entire property to it by virtue of Tripartite Deed of Legal Mortgage dated November 1, 2011, in order to secure a loan granted to Tripple A. Properties & Investment Ltd.

The bank further claimed that the original titled deeds of the property has been vested in it while the loan is yet to be liquidated till date despite the fact that its tenor has expired.

The bank further claimed it sold the property to Chobe Ventures Ltd to liquidate the loan.

However, in its counter affidavit to the application, the EFCC argued that the bank lacks the ‘locus standi’ to challenge the forfeiture of property ‘reasonably suspected to have been acquired with proceeds of unlawful activities of Ambassador Ayo Oke and Mrs. Folashade Oke’.

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The anti-graft agency in the affidavit deposed to by one, Mohammed Chiroma, argued that the funds used to acquire the property sought to be forfeited in the name of Chobe Ventures Limited belong to the Federal Government but was fraudulently converted to the company’s use.

The deponent further averred that if the property is finally forfeited to government, the right of Union Bank Plc, if any, in relation to the covenants in its deed of assignment with Chobe Ventures Limited will not be hampered in any manner.

The EFCC further claimed that having transferred its interest in the property sought to be forfeited to Chobe Ventures Limited, upon the receipt of a sufficient consideration, the bank has no legal right over the property again.

Ruling on the interested party’s motion has been fixed for January 19.

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