By Michael Ojo
A Federal High Court in Lagos on Friday ordered final forefeiture to the Federal Government, the sum of N426.7 million belonging to a retired Brigadier-General of the Nigerian Army, John Onimisi Ozigi
Justice Muslim Hassan made the order following a motion on notice by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) seeking final forfeiture of the sum.
The judge said that the respondent failed to satisfy the court with concrete evidence why the monies suspected to be proceeds of unlawful activities should not be forfeited to federal government of Nigeria.
” The application has met the conditions stipulated in section 17 of of the Advanced free fraud and related offences Act”. The application is meritorious and it is hereby granted as prayed. The judge said.
The application was filed by counsel t EFCC, Mr Nkereuwem Anana. Joined as respondents in the suit are: John Onimisi Ozigi, and a company Diamond Head Ventures and Dev. Company Ltd.
Justice Hassan had earlier issued an interim order for forfeiture of the sum, following an exparte application filed by the EFCC.
He had then ordered interested parties to appear and show cause why the interim orders should not be made permanent.
In March, the EFCC argued its application for final forfeiture of the sum on the grounds that they were reasonably suspected to be proceeds of unalwful activities. The Court then adjourned the case until April 6, for judgement.
Meanwhile, following the COVID-19 pandemic, judgment could not be delivered and counsel were informed of a new date.
In his Judgment on Friday, Justice Hassan granted the motion for final forefeiture as prayed by the EFCC.
In suit FHC/L/CS/1094/18 the Antigraft Agency had prayed for an order, finally forefeiting to the Federal Government, the total sum of N426.7 million found in the account of the respondent.
The EFCC in an affidavit deposed to by one of its operatives, Clever Ibrahim, stated that the first Respondent is an officer of the Nigerian Army, while the second respondent is a business name owned and incorporated by the first Respondent under the law of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.
The deponent also stated that the first respondent is a salary earner and a public officer under the rank at a brigadier general with an estimated salary of about N750. 000.00 (seven hunched and fifty thousand none) per month.
He also stated that intelligence information revealed that monies have been found in an account opened In the name of the first and second respondents that is not reasonably justifiable and commensurate with the first Respondent legitimate income
According to the Commission, the sum is reasonably suspected to be crime proceeds. He averred that when the first respondent was confronted with respect to the sums in the account and he made a statement to the commission.
He said that in the said statement, the respondent had indicated willingness to refund the money to the Federal Government, adding that the said statement was attached as EXHIBH EFCC 3.
He had argued that the order if made, will serve the course of Justice, as same is sought in good faith and in accordance with the Oaths Act.