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Heritage Bank: Court Orders Final Forfeiture of N1, 260, 000,000, $327,132.35, £167.85 , €157.90

Justice A. Obiozor of the Federal High Court sitting in Ikoyi, Lagos has ordered the final forfeiture of the sums of N1,260,000,000, $327,132.35, £167.85 and €157.90 recovered by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commision, EFCC, to the Federal Government.
The order came following an ex parte application filed by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, against Heritage Bank Plc and Secure Electronics Technology Limited.

The funds were discovered, following an intelligence report received by the Commission.

The persons in whose possession the funds were found did not lay claim to them and surrendered them for forfeiture.

In an affidavit in support of the application, the applicant stated that “Heritage Bank did not provide any legitimate explanation for the above transactions (involving the sums) and consequently returned the said money through 16 separate bank drafts issued in favour of the EFCC Recovered Funds Account.”

Justice Obiozor, in his ruling on August 15 , 2018, had ordered the interim forfeiture of the monies, which were reasonably suspected to be proceeds of unlawful activities, to the Federal Government.

In line with the court order of August 15, 2018, the EFCC had published the interim forfeiture order in the Nation newspaper of August 21,2018 for the correspondents or anyone interested in the money to show cause why the funds should not be permanently forfeited to the Federal Government.

At the hearing on Tuesday, November 13, 2018, the applicant, through its counsel, Ekene Iheanacho, said the respondent had not shown up to lay claim to the money, despite being served with the earlier interim order of forfeiture, motion for final forfeiture and hearing notices on the action.

He , therefore, urged the Judge to order the funds to be permanently forfeited to the Federal Government.

In his ruling, Justice Obiozor held that ” the applicant has proved on the balance of probabilities that the funds recovered from the respondents by the applicant were reasonably suspected to be proceeds of unlawful activities.”

The Judge, therefore, ordered that the various sums of money be permanently forfeited to the Federal Government

Tony Orilade,
Ag. Head, Media & Publicity
13th November, 2018
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N1.6m Pension Fraud: Court Convicts One, Prosecutes Another

The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC on November 14, 2018 secured the conviction of Mohammed Abdullahi, who was arraigned along with Hassan Gulu for a N1.6 million pension-related fraud.

The two men were brought before Justice Aisha Bwari of the Niger State High Court, Minna, on a two-count charge bordering on cheating and fraudulent conversion to personal use.

The long arm of the Law caught up with them when the EFCC received a petition from the Pension Transitional Arrangement Directorate, PTAD, alleging that Abdullahi, during routine verification exercise in Minna, was found to have been overpaid his monthly pension entitlements for almost two years.

Abdullahi, a retiree was entitled to N31,000 as monthly pension, and N2,609.68 as his federal pension. However, verification showed that he was receiving N165,313.19. He was found to have remitted N75,000 monthly for almost two years to Gulu who was formerly under the Office of the Head of Service, Pension Service, but presently with the Federal Ministry of Youth and Sports. The money had amounted to N1,647,000.

When they charges were read to them, Abdullahi did not waste the time of the court as he immediately pleaded “guilty”, but his accomplice pleaded “not guilty”.

In view of Abdullahi’s plea, Justice Bwari convicted him of the charges.

Munir Isa, counsel for Abdullahi, however, urged the court to temper justice with mercy, pleading that his client “was a first time offender who has diligently served this nation”, and urged the court to consider his state of health, as he was “aged and blind”.

Prosecuting counsel, Ijeabalum Diribe, however urged the court to pronounce the maximum sentence on the defendant, having admitted committing the offence.

The trial judge, thereafter, sentenced Abdullahi to two years in jail with an option of N300,000 as fine.

With the “not guilty” plea of Gulu, the prosecution urged that his trial commence.

Counsel for Gulu, H.A. Yabagi, however, approached the court with bail application of his client, citing section 36(5) of the 1999 Constitution as amended and section 340 of the Criminal Penal Code of Niger State.

“I urge the court to grant bail to the second defendant pending the determination of the substantive suit,” he said, arguing further that the offence was a bailable one.

While not opposing the application for bail, Diribe, urged the court “to exercise its discretion in such a manner that will ensure the availability of the defendant to stand trial”.

Justice Bwari, thereafter, granted bail to Gulu in the sum of N500,000 with two sureties in like sum. The sureties must be resident in Minna, and must have landed properties.

The case has been adjourned to November 21, 2018 for “commencement of trial”.

Tony Orilade,
Ag. Head, Media & Publicity
14th November, 2018

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