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Court Orders Interim Forfeiture of $1.4 Million Linked to Emefiele

A Federal High Court in Lagos has ordered the interim forfeiture of $1.4 million linked to the former Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) governor, Godwin Emefiele. Justice Ayokunle Faji ruled that the money should be forfeited to the Federal Government of Nigeria.

Justice Faji also instructed the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) to publish the interim forfeiture order in a national newspaper, inviting any interested parties to appear before the court within 14 days to contest the final forfeiture.

This ruling was issued following an ex-parte application by EFCC counsel Bilikisu Buhari-Bala. The money in question is held in an account by Donatone Limited at Titan Bank Limited.

The next hearing for the final forfeiture is set for June 25. During the proceedings, Buhari-Bala cited Section 17 of the Advance Fee Fraud and Other Fraud-related Offences Act No. 14, 2006, and Section 44 (2)(B) of the 1999 Constitution as the basis for the forfeiture.

Buhari-Bala argued that the funds were likely proceeds of unlawful activities, supported by an affidavit from EFCC investigator David Jayeoba. Jayeoba’s affidavit detailed that the EFCC’s investigation into Emefiele revealed substantial sums of money hidden in Donatone Limited’s account. Directors Uzeobo Anthony and Adebanjo Olurotimi were identified as key figures in the concealment of these funds.

Jayeoba’s affidavit further explained that between 2021 and 2022, when foreign exchange was scarce in Nigeria, international entities had to resort to unconventional methods to obtain forex. It was alleged that Anthony and Olurotimi collected bribes on behalf of Emefiele to facilitate forex approvals, with significant sums deposited into Donatone Limited’s Titan Trust Bank account. These funds were subsequently laundered through a foreign account in Mauritius before being returned to Nigeria.

The affidavit also noted that the remaining balance in the account, amounting to $1,426,175.14, is the subject of the forfeiture application. The funds are believed to be proceeds of Emefiele’s unlawful activities, and efforts are being made to dissipate these funds electronically. Hence, the EFCC argues that forfeiture is in the interest of justice.

Previously, on May 25, 2024, Justice Yelim Bogoro ordered the interim forfeiture of $4.7 million, N830 million, and several properties linked to Emefiele. These assets, held in various banks and operated by different entities, are also believed to be connected to Emefiele’s fraudulent activities.

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