Court Orders Forfeiture Of N6bn, $222,000, N2bn Shares Linked To Jonathan Cousin
The Abuja Division of the Federal High Court, on Tuesday, okayed interim forfeiture of N6,584,785, US$222,000, and N2,028,800,000 worth of shares of Aso Savings Ltd, that were allegedly secured fraudulently from proceeds of the sale of Power Holdings Company of Nigeria, PHCN.
The court, in a ruling that was delivered in chambers by Justice Nnamdi Dimgba, granted the interim forfeiture orders following an ex-parte application that was filed by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC. Aside the shares and monetary assets, Justice Dimgba equally ordered interim forfeiture of 12 houses, as well as, two pieces of land located in Lagos, Ibadan and Abuja, which EFCC alleged were bought with looted funds. The anti-graft agency alleged that some former aides and a cousin to former President Goodluck Jonathan, illegally diverted and shared a total sum of N27,188, 232, 208.20 proceeds of the PHCN Severance Insurance Premium, among themselves. EFCC, through its lawyer, Mr. Ben Ikhani, told the court the forfeited assets were uncovered during investigations into PHCN Severance Insurance Premium. EFCC had, in its ex parte application, named top government officials involved in the alleged scam to include the then Chief of Staff to the then President Goodluck Jonathan, Brig.-Gen. Arogbofa (retd), the then Accountant-General of the Federation, Mr. Jonah Otunla, and the then Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Power, Dr. Godknows Igali.
Others equally named in the alleged fraud were a cousin to ex-President Jonathan, Robert Azibaola; a former Director-General of Bureau for Public Enterprises, Mr. Benjamin Dikki; and a former Minister of State for Power, Mohammed Wakil.
Meanwhile, Justice Dimgba ordered EFCC to publish the court order in any national daily within 14 days, following which any persons or organisations interested in the assets would be entitled to challenge the court orders. EFCC, via an affidavit it filed in support of the motion, told the court that through proxies, Arogbofa got N150m; Dikki N1bn; the ex-Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Works, Igali N475m; Otunla N3.6bn; Jonathan’s cousin, Azibaola N2.5bn; and Wakil N118m. It said that a total sum of N27,188,232,208 allegedly misappropriated by government officials, the sums of N6,584,785, US$222,000, and N2,028,800,000 worth of shares of Aso Savings Ltd had been recovered from the suspects.
The Commission said it kept the recovered money in its Recovered Funds Account domiciled at the Central Bank of Nigeria. Besides, it told the court that apart from the shares and the sums of money, 12 houses and two pieces of land located in Lagos, Ibadan and Abuja, allegedly bought with proceeds of the loot, had also been recovered. The seized properties include two units of 4-bedroom detached duplex (Houses 12 & 14) at Alexander Miller Estate, Lekki-Lagos; one unit 4-bedroom semi-detached terrace duplex (block C11, Unit 7) at Lekki Garden Estate Paradise 3, Lekki, Lagos; one unit of 4-bedroom semi -detached(House 4b) at Olive Court, Agodi, GRA, Ibadan, Oyo State; and two units of 3-bedroom flat with 1-room boys quarters at 6a & b, Ogedengbe Street, Apapa, Lagos. Others include, 1 unit 4-bedroom terrace duplex with one 1-bedroom flat boys quarters (House 23, Flat 6) at Plot 100/101,Gudu District, Isa Mohammed Street, Cadastral Zone, B01,FCT, Abuja; and one unit bedroom detached (House No. D1077) at House No. D1077 at Brains & Hammers Estate, Apo, Dutse, Abuja. They also include, one unit 6-bedroom detached (House No.D1069) at house No.D1069 at Brains & Hammers Estate, Apo Dutse, Abuja; one unit 3-bedroom flat (Flat 4A, Hyde Tower) at 16a Akin Olugbade Street, Victoria Island, Lagos; a five-bedroom (detached) and 3-bedroom bungalow both at Plot 145, Tarkwa Close, Wuse II, Abuja.
The rest are one unit plot of land measuring 921.26 square meters at Plot 1086 Cadastral Zone, B10 Daki-Biyu, FCT, Abuja and one unit plot of land measuring 2486.12 square meters at plot 2317, Nbora District, Cadastral Zone C06 FCT, Abuja. Justice Dimgba adjourned the matter until February 6.