Kogi State Governor, Yahaya Bello, has reacted to the order of the Justice Nicholas Oweibo-led Federal High Court situated in Ikoyi, Lagos State.
The court, on Wednesday, granted an interim forfeiture of 14 properties in Lagos, Abuja and the United Arab Emirates, UAE, linked to the Kogi State Government.
This follows an ex parte motion by Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) counsel, Mr. Rotimi Oyedepo, SAN.
Justice Oweibo also authorised the EFCC to confiscate the sum of N400million recovered from one Aminu Falala in connection with the alleged fraud.
The judge said the money “is reasonably suspected to have been derived from unlawful activity and intended to be used for the acquisition of Plot No. 1224 Bishop Oluwole Street, Victoria Island Lagos.”
According to Oyedepo, through the fraud “huge sums of money belonging to the Kogi State Government were fraudulently converted and used to either outrightly acquire properties or renovate already existing but dilapidated buildings”.
Reacting, the Kogi State Government faulted the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission for reportedly confiscating 14 of its properties in Lagos State, Abuja and the United Arab Emirates, following an order from the court.
In a statement by Kingsley Fanwo, the state Commissioner of Information and Communications to Governor Yahaya Bello, he said, “Bawa had shown, like many Civil Society Organisations had pointed out, that his mandate at the EFCC was to bring down perceived enemies of those who planted him there at the expense of the nation’s integrity.”
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He said the state government had no properties it could forfeit to the Federal Government under any guise.
The statement added, “Unlike the convicted Bawa, who has no regard for the courts.
“We want to state clearly here that, from what we have read in the media, not one we witnessed, this is a forfeiture proceeding and the order is an order of interim forfeiture, which gives persons who allegedly own the properties rights to come to court to establish their ownership of the said properties. We will follow through with the courts.”
The 14 properties affected by the order include Plot No. 1160, within Cadastral Zone CO3, Gwarimpa II District, Abuja; No. 2, Justice Chukwudifu Oputa Street, Asokoro Abuja; Block ‘D’, Manzini Street, Wuse Zone 4 Abuja; Plot A 02/176 Block 488B, Lome Street, Wuse 1, Abuja; Fair Plus International Limited at No. 2 Kubwa Resettlement Area Cadastral Zone E1, Abuja; Fair Plus International Limited, at No 41 Ikorodu Road, Jibowu, Mushin, Lagos State; Fair Plus International Limited at No. 2 Bisi Odunsanya Street, Agege Motor Road, Agege Lagos State; Plot No. 1773 Guzape District, Abuja; and No B13 Citiscape-Shariff Plaza, lying, being and situate at plot 739 Aminu Kano Crescent, Wuse 2 Abuja.
The UAE property is Hotel Apartment Community: Burj Khalifa, Plot 160 Municipality NO 345-7562, Sky View Building No 1, Property No 401, Floor 4, Dubai U.A.E.
Others include Plot No. 2934A, Cadastral Zone A06, also known as, No. 1 Ikogosi Spring Close, Maitama District, Abuja; Plot No. 1058, measuring about 1450.77sqm in Cadastral Zone AO8, Wuse 2, also known as No. 2 Durban Street, Abuja; Plot No. 1981, Maitama District, also known as No. 6 Dala Hills, Abuja and the sum of N400million allegedly recovered from Falala.
Justice Oweibo granted the application and directed the commission to publish the interim order within 14 days for any interested party to show cause why the forfeiture order should not be made in favour of the Federal Government of Nigeria.
The case was adjourned till March 28, 2023.