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Account for Ibru’s Assets, Court Orders EFCC

23 Feb 2013

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Mrs Cecilia Ibru

A Federal High Court in Lagos Friday ordered the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission to disclose the whereabouts of the money and properties forfeited by the convicted former managing director of Oceanic Bank (now Ecobank), Cecilia Ibru within seventy-two hours.

Justice Mohammed Idris, who handed down the verdict while delivering a judgement in a Freedom of Information (FOI) suit filed by the President of Progressive Shareholders Association of Nigeria, Boniface Okezie, held that it was imperative for the anti-graft agency to account for the assets recovered from Ibru, which amounted to about N191 billion.

Okezie, had filed the suit through his lawyer, Chuks Nwachukwu of Indemnity Partners against the EFCC as well as the Justice Minister and Attorney General of the federation, Mohammed Bello Adoke.

The applicant had equally urged the court to compel the defendants to render account of all the legal fees paid so far to private lawyers handling its criminal cases.

Delivering judgement, Justice Idris ordered Adoke and the EFCC to, within seventy-two hours; disclose the amounts they have respectively spent on hiring private lawyers for criminal prosecution.

In addition, the court ordered the defendants to disclose the amounts they pay their in-house counsel and their qualifications.

The defendants, according to the judge, are also to state the reasons for preferring private lawyers to their in-house counsel, as well as the amount they have spent for the training of their in-house counsel in the past one-year.

The assets forfeited by Ibru included 94 landed property scattered in Nigeria, Dubai and the United States of America, as well as shares in about 100 firms both listed and unlisted in the Nigeria Stock Exchange .

Ibru, it would be recalled, was jailed by the then Chief Judge of the Federal High Court, Justice Dan Abutu.
Abutu sentenced Ibru after she pleaded guilty to a three-count charge of recklessly granting credit facilities.

Ibru had admitted granting an illegal credit facility of $20 million to WAVES Project Nigeria Limited and N2 billion unlawful credit to Petosan Farms. She also agreed that she failed to ensure that the 2009 balance sheet of Oceanic Bank was a true view of the state of affairs of the bank.

Justice Idris, had in an earlier case, ordered the Central Bank of Nigeria to account for the assets forfeited by Ibru also within seventy-two hours.

Already, the CBN has appealed against the verdict.

In the notice of appeal, the apex bank stressed that accounting for the assets was not possible in view of the fact that it would expose the legal fees paid to lawyers that handled the matter.

The appeal is yet to be heard and determined by the appellate court. A Federal High Court in Lagos Friday ordered the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission to disclose the whereabouts of the money and properties forfeited by the convicted former managing director of Oceanic Bank (now Ecobank), Cecilia Ibru within seventy-two hours.

Justice Mohammed Idris, who handed down the verdict while delivering a judgement in a Freedom of Information (FOI) suit filed by the President of Progressive Shareholders Association of Nigeria, Boniface Okezie, held that it was imperative for the anti-graft agency to account for the assets recovered from Ibru, which amounted to about N191 billion.

Okezie, had filed the suit through his lawyer, Chuks Nwachukwu of Indemnity Partners against the EFCC as well as the Justice Minister and Attorney General of the federation, Mohammed Bello Adoke.

The applicant had equally urged the court to compel the defendants to render account of all the legal fees paid so far to private lawyers handling its criminal cases.

Delivering judgement, Justice Idris ordered Adoke and the EFCC to, within seventy-two hours; disclose the amounts they have respectively spent on hiring private lawyers for criminal prosecution.

In addition, the court ordered the defendants to disclose the amounts they pay their in-house counsel and their qualifications.

The defendants, according to the judge, are also to state the reasons for preferring private lawyers to their in-house counsel, as well as the amount they have spent for the training of their in-house counsel in the past one-year.

The assets forfeited by Ibru included 94 landed property scattered in Nigeria, Dubai and the United States of America, as well as shares in about 100 firms both listed and unlisted in the Nigeria Stock Exchange.

Ibru, it would be recalled, was jailed by the then Chief Judge of the Federal High Court, Justice Dan Abutu.
Abutu sentenced Ibru after she pleaded guilty to a three-count charge of recklessly granting credit facilities.

Ibru had admitted granting an illegal credit facility of $20 million to WAVES Project Nigeria Limited and N2 billion unlawful credit to Petosan Farms. She also agreed that she failed to ensure that the 2009 balance sheet of Oceanic Bank was a true view of the state of affairs of the bank.
Justice Idris, had in an earlier case, ordered the Central Bank of Nigeria to account for the assets forfeited by Ibru also within seventy-two hours.

Already, the CBN has appealed against the verdict.
In the notice of appeal, the apex bank stressed that accounting for the assets was not possible in view of the fact that it would expose the legal fees paid to lawyers that handled the matter.

The appeal is yet to be heard and determined by the appellate court.

Tags: Featured, News, Nigeria, IBRU’S ASSETS, Court, EFCC

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