EFCC, TAJBank Battle over N1.2bn Forfeited Property

Wale Igbintade

Non-interest banking services provider, TAJBank Limited has asked a federal high court in Lagos to set aside the final forfeiture order relating to a multi-billion property known as Apartment No. 1103, Belmonte, located at number 40 Bourdillon Road, Ikoyi Lagos.

Justice Tijjani Ringim had on November 29, 2023, ordered a final forfeiture of the property to the Federal government following the request of the the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) in suit number FHC/CS/1818/2023.

However, TAJBank in a Motion on Notice brought pursuant to Section 44(1) of the Constitution, and Order 26 Rule 1 of the Federal High Court (Civil Procedure) Rules, 2019 filed by its lawyer, Anthony Ibekwe is praying the court to restrain the EFCC from interfering with the property.

The bank is also asking for, “a consequential order directing the EFCC to remove forthwith, the notice of the Final Forfeiture Order handed down by this Honourable Court on November 29, 2023, from the front door of Apartment No. 1103, Belmonte, No. 40 Bourdillon Road, Ikoyi,

“A consequential order restraining the EFCC from interfering (or otherwise dealing) with the Applicant’s property known as Apartment No. 1103, Belmonte, No. 40 Bourdillon Road.”

In a 25-paragraph affidavit deposed to by one Akeem Abubakar, a legal officer of TAJBank limited, he stated that sometime in June 2023, the applicant (TAJBank) decided to buy a property to aid its business operations in Lagos.

According to the deponent, the applicant, after several inquiries and searches, identified a property in Ikoyi, known as, “Apartment No, 2203, Belmonte, No, 40 Bourdillon Road, lkoyl, Lagos.

He stated that to determine the actual market value of the property and as part of its due diligence protocols, the applicant engaged the services of Messrs. Osas & Oseji (Estate Surveyors and Valuers) to undertake a valuation of the Property.

He added that the applicant also conducted due diligence searches at the Lagos State Land Registry to determine whether there are any encumbrances on the Property.

Following the outcome of its due diligence inquiries, the applicant commenced discussions with representatives of the entity (i.e. Blessed Rageous Integrated Services Limited) with proprietary interest in the Property, apartment 1103 Belmonte located at No. 40 Bourdillon Road, Ikoyi Lagos

He said the applicant purchased the property for the sum of N1,271,600,000.00 (One Billion, Two Hundred and Seventy-One Million, Six Hundred Thousand Naira) then executed a contract of sale with the said Blessed Rageous Integrated Services Limited.

Following the conclusion of the sale transaction, the Applicant took possession of the Property with a view of furnishing same for its use.

He said on or about March 25, 2024, a letter was delivered to the Property by pasting on the front door thereof.

To the Applicant’s utter shock and disbelief, the letter suggested that the Property is the subject of a Final Forfeiture Order, handed down by this  Court on November 29, 2023.

He added that upon a close scrutiny of the enrolled copy of the Final Forfeiture Order of the court, the applicant discovered that the Order refers to 1 Unit of 4 Bedroom Luxury Apartment lying and situate at Belmonte Bourdilon Road lkoyi Lagos”.

He stated that in order to unravel the circumstances behind the issuance of the Final Forfeiture Order, the Applicant engaged Messrs. Opal Law Office, a law firm to conduct 3 search on the case file for the matter, at the Federal High Court.

He stated that unless the EFCC was restrained, the applicant’s right to deal with the Property having invested heavily on the said property in manner that it deems fit would be unduly fettered.

Justice Kehinde Ogundare fixed June 3, 2024 for hearing of the application.

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