Kingsley Nwezeh in Abuja
A Federal High Court sitting in Owerri yesterday ordered the final forfeiture of Dews of Hope Hospital, a N1.5 billion, state-of-the-art 200-bed hospital, allegedly owned by an aide to a former governor of Imo State and serving senator, Rochas Okorocha.
The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) had on August 22, 2019, secured the interim forfeiture of the property from the trial judge, Justice A. T Mohammed of Federal High Court, Port Harcourt.
The application for interim forfeiture was triggered by evidence that the facility may have been acquired through proceeds of illicit activities as funds from Government House, Owerri were traced to the hospital.
The commission’s investigation revealed that Dr. Paschal Obi, former Permanent Secretary and Principal Secretary to then Governor Okorocha, now a serving member of the House of Representatives, was a signatory to the accounts.
However, Obi, like members of the board of the hospital, vehemently denied ownership of the medical facility.
An EFCC statement said the managing director of the hospital on invitation, could not also explain how the hospital was funded.
The commission filed for the forefeiture of the property on July 25, 2019 under Section 17 of the Advance Fee Fraud, and Other Related Offences Act 2006.
In granting the request for the interim forfeiture of the property, the court ordered the anti-graft agency to publish the order in a national newspaper, which was accordingly complied with asking interested parties to show cause why the property should not be forfeited to the federal government within fourteen days from the dates of the publications.
Upon the expiration of the 14-day notice and with no one showing interest in the hospital, the commission filed for the final forfeiture of the facility.
The hospital located at the heart of Owerri metropolis, had an adjourning staff and doctor’s quarters.