A former director of First Bank Plc, Dauda Lawal, has asked the Court of Appeal in Lagos to order the Federal Government to return to him the N9.08 billion he forfeited to it on February 16, 2017.
Mr Lawal told the court that the Federal High Court, Lagos which ordered the forfeiture of the money had no jurisdiction to do so.
According to the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), the N9.08 billion was part of the forfeited N23.4 billion and $5 million (about N34 billion in total) linked to former Petroleum Minister, Diezani Alison-Madueke.
The anti-graft agency said the sums were stolen by Mrs Alison-Madueke and several accomplices from the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) and stashed in three banks.
Justice Muslim Hassan, on February 16, 2017, ordered the final forfeiture of the funds after no one showed up to make legitimate claims to the funds.
The judge said he was satisfied with the EFCC’s argument that the monies were proceeds of illegal activity.
Lawal is the sole applicant in the appeal, while the EFCC is the respondent. The applicant was represented by his counsel P.I.N Ikwueto SAN while Kufre Uduak represented the EFCC.
When the matter came up for mention last Thursday, September 29, the court adjourned further proceedings, after informing both parties that a date for hearing will be communicated to them.
In his notice of appeal in the suit marked CA/LA/PRE/RA/CU/394MI/2019, Lawal contended that the trial judge erred in law.
He is seeking four reliefs, including an order to:
“To set aside the judgment dated 16 February 2017 for being without jurisdiction and thereby a nullity. “An order setting aside the forfeiture of the sum of N9,080,000,000 which the respondent (EFCC) obtained from the appellant while the appellant was under the detention of the respondent (EFCC).
“An order returning the sum of N9,080,000,000 to the appellant.”
In his March 29 affidavit in support of his application, Lawal averred that the forfeited N9.08bn was not found in his possession as required by Section 17 of the Advance Fee Fraud and Other Fraud Related Offences Act.
According to him, the money was borrowed on his behalf by family and friends whilst he was in EFCC custody and given to the government.
He further averred that his failure to appeal within time was due to his “apprehension that if he challenged the Judgment dated 16 February 2017 whilst the investigation was on going, the appellant will be further detained by the EFCC.
“The Appellant has now been charged along with others following the conclusion of the investigation by the EFCC.”