Kingsley Nweze in Abuja
The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) yesterday at the National Open University, Jabi, Abuja, commenced the sale of forfeited real estate assets by sealed bids to the highest bidders.
The commission said there was no successful bid for the properties in Lot 1 comprising 24 units of luxury flats at Banana Island, Ikoyi, Lagos, which was expected to be sold as a single unit.
EFCC Head of Media & Publicity, Wilson Uwujaren, said in a statement that a bidder who turned in the highest bid of N13.1 billion was disqualified for failure to include the stipulated 10 per cent of the bid amount.
Other bidders did not make the reserve price.
Secretary to the commission, Dr. George Ekpungu announced that the Commission would open fresh bids for the properties in Lot 1.
The bids will close by 12 pm on Friday, January 13, 2023, while the bid opening will be done the same day.
Also, there were no successful bids in Lots 2 and 3. Fresh bids were invited until Wednesday, January 11, 2023, and the bids will be opened on Thursday, January 12, 2023.
Dr. Ekpungu explained that the Commission adopted the format of competitive bidding to ensure accountability and so that the government gets the right value for the assets.
He said the occupants of the properties for sale have the Right of First Refusal even as he vowed that the commission would ensure that former owners of the forfeited properties do not attempt to repurchase the assets by proxy.
“If you have information about any bid by owners of the assets, please let the Commission know, and we will take appropriate action, including possible prosecution,” he said.
He commended the EFCC Chairman, Abdulrasheed Bawa for taking the bull by the horn in ensuring that those who have stolen the wealth of the country were denied the proceeds of crime and the assets disposed of for the benefit of all Nigerians.
Director, Public Affairs of the commission, Mr. Osita Nwajah, read out the guidelines for the sale which, among others, forbids staff of the Commission and persons who have or are being prosecuted in respect of the assets from participating in the process.
He also said before any bid can be successful, it must be equal to or be above the reserve price, while each bidder was expected to enclose a bank draft for 10 per cent of the bid amount.
He said successful bidders have 15 working days from the bid opening to make full payment. Otherwise, the second highest bidder would be offered the asset.
The assets are grouped into nine lots with Monday’s sale restricted to lots 1, 2 and 3.
The sale of properties in the other lots will continue until the final lot is disposed of on Friday, December 13, 2023.
Proceeds from the sale of the assets will be paid into the Confiscated and Forfeited Properties Account at the Central Bank of Nigeria in line with Section 69(a) of the Proceeds of Crime ( Recovery and Management) Act, 2023.
The commission had on December 24, 2022, in a paid advertorial published in five of the major newspapers in the country, announced the commencement of bids for over a hundred forfeited properties in cities across Nigeria.
The exercise was witnessed by among others, representatives of the Civil Society including the Rev David Ugolor, Executive Director, Africa Network for Environment and Economic Justice (ANEEJ).
He commended the EFCC for a transparent process but urged the commission to ensure the guidelines are communicated to the public for the benefit of cynics who might be inclined to fault the process.