- Despite Osinbajo’s panel, EFCC pursues permanent forfeiture of Ikoyi millions
By Benneth Oghifo with Agency report
The apartment in Ikoyi, Lagos, where $43.5 million was found in April, was bought for N360 million by a company owned by Folashade Oke, wife of the suspended Director-General of the National Intelligence Agency (NIA).
The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) said this yesterday at a federal high court in Lagos.
In an affidavit and exhibits tendered to support a prayer for the permanent forfeiture of the money to the federal government, the EFCC said a company called Choba Ventures Limited bought the flat and paid for it between August and September 2015.
The EFCC said Fine and Country Limited, a real estate firm, was the vendor, and that up till now, despite notices published in newspapers, neither Oke nor Choba Ventures had stepped out to claim the money.
Ayo, husband of Folashade, had claimed before a presidential panel, headed by Vice-President Yemi Osinbajo that the money belonged to the NIA.
There were reports that the money was part of the $285 million withdrawn from the account of an NNPC subsidiary, on the orders of former President Goodluck Jonathan.
According to agency reports monitored in Lagos, in the affidavit filed in support of its prayer for forfeiture, the EFCC tendered the receipt of payment to Choba Ventures Limited issued by Fine & Country Ltd, another company.
The agency also tendered a Deed of Assignment between Union Bank of Nigeria plc and Choba Ventures Limited, while the third exhibit is a publication of the order of the court.
Rotimi Oyedepo, EFCC lawyer, said the commissionâ€™s finding in the course of investigation leaves no one in doubt that flat 7, Osborne was purchased by Choba Ventures Limited and that the companyâ€™s directors are one Ayodele Folashade Oke and her son.
The agency said Folashade Oke, to buy the property, gave $1.658 million to Salla Petroleum and Gas Limited which turned out to be a Bureau de Change. The latter converted the money to naira and credited the account of Fine and Country.
Fine and Country acknowledged the receipt of the money on 27th and 28th of August as well as 2nd and 3rd of September 2015 with a naira equivalent of N360,000,000.
â€œUpon the payment, a Deed of Assignment was then executed between UBN and Choba Ventures Limited,â€ Oyedepo said.
Oyedepo, therefore, urged the court to hold that the commissionâ€™s submission that the house and the money found in it were reasonably suspected to be proceeds of unlawful act.
He also urged the court to agree to permanently forfeit the money to the federal government in view of the fact that no one has come forward to lay claim to the money within the 14 days given by the court.
However, according to a source close to intelligence operations said it was not unusual for intelligence agencies to use proxies.
He said: â€œThe property in question procured through a proxy company is legally owned by NIA with relevant documents. If one uses normal civil procedure for security duties then nothing will work. The details EFCC is given is the normal security ways of doing things.
There must be cover story for all acts. It is normal to use proxy for classified actions. In most cases, the proxies are not even aware of the full details of the assignment they are embarking on.Â Intelligence agencies use fronts for actions.”
The EFCC had during the raid on the Flat last April recovered $43,449,947, Â£27,800 and N23,218,000. The money was kept in iron cabinets and â€œGhana must goâ€ bags.
The commission said in coming forward to seek the order for final forfeiture, it had complied with the court directives as contained in the earlier order of interim forfeiture granted by the court by publishing the order in a national daily newspaper.
The commission said it did not only publish the order of interim forfeiture, it went further to serve the motion and order on the owner of the property where the money in question was found.
Muslim Hassan, the judge, had earlier granted an order of interim forfeiture which must be published in a national daily newspaper to allow anyone interested in the money to come forward within 14 days and show cause why the money should not be permanently forfeited to the federal government of Nigeria.
The anti-graft agency said so far nobody had come forward to show interest in the huge money found.
Hassan has adjourned ruling till 6th of June.