Kingsley Nwezeh in Abuja
Justice Taiwo Taiwo of the Federal High Court, Abuja, on Wednesday, July 1, 2020, ordered the interim forfeiture of 48 choice properties, allegedly belonging to the former Chairman of Nigerian Social Insurance Trust Funds, (NSITF), Dr. Ngozi Olejeme.
The affected properties are spread across, Federal Capital Territory (FCT), Abuja; Bayelsa; Enugu; Edo and Delta states.
Olejeme who was also the treasurer of the Jonathan-Sambo Campaign Organisation in 2015 has been on the run since 2016 and was in September 2017.
She was declared wanted by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) for criminal conspiracy, abuse of once, diversion of public funds and money laundering.
She was alleged to have, along with former managing director of NSITF, Mr. Umar Munir Abubakar, mismanaged and diverted over N69billion, belonging to the federal government into their personal accounts through the award of spurious contracts to proxy companies.
The forfeiture order was granted after counsel to the EFCC, Mr. Ekele Iheanacho, convinced the court that the said properties were purchased with proceeds of crime. He buttressed his position with 14 exhibits, attached to his affidavit, filed on May 29, 2020.
In granting the application, Justice Taiwo ruled that the interim order should be published in a leading newspaper within seven days of receipt of the order and for any interested party to show cause within 14 days as to why the properties should not be permanently forfeited to the federal government.
He adjourned the matter till July 27, 2020.
Trouble began for Olejeme, who was NSITF chairman from 2009 to 2015, when the EFCC in 2016, received two petitions detailing multi-billion naira fraud allegations against her, Abubakar and some bureau-de-change operators.