By Sandra Umeh
A Federal High Court in Lagos on Tuesday ordered a former Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Labour, Clement Onubuogo, to forfeit the sums of N664 million and 137,000 dollars to the Federal Government.
Justice Saliu Seidu granted the order at the resumed hearing of a forfeiture suit against Onubuogo.
When the case was called, counsel to Onubuogo, Mr TS Awana, informed the court that his client had applications challenging the jurisdiction of the court on one hand, and another, seeking a discharge of an earlier interim order for forfeiture of his properties.
Awana however added that owing to discussions between the accused and the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) on the need to settle out of court, he would be withdrawing the two applications.
Counsel to the EFCC, Mr Rotimi Oyedepo, in his submission confirmed the position on the move to settle out of court and stated that he will not be opposing the withdrawals of the two motions.
He urged the court to strike out the motions for the coast to be clear for out of court settlement.
Meanwhile, Oyedepo told the court that based on agreement reached between the parties, EFCC would be applying for the discharge of an earlier interim order of the court as regards two of the properties sought to be forfeited to the government.
The properties are a mansion located at Ikom Quarters, Issala Azegba, Delta, and the property lying and situates at number 19 Madue Nwafor Street off Achala Ibuzor Road, Asaba, Delta.
He then urged the court to only discharge the earlier orders as regards the two properties.
Awana did not oppose the application which then paved way for the EFCC to move its motion for a final forfeiture of the other properties said to have been suspected to be proceeds of illegal act.
Oyedepo told the court that since the defendant has withdrawn their counter affidavit, the prosecution is left with no option than to move the motion for final forfeiture of the remaining properties in its application.
He said that the motion was brought pursuant to Section 17 of the Advance Fee Fraud and other Related Offences Act No 14, 2014.
He supported his application with a nine paragraph affidavit and two exhibits, as well as a written address.
Oyedepo, therefore, urged the court to grant the application for final forfeiture of the properties as contained in prayers 1,2,3 and 4 of the face of the motion papers.
The application was not opposed by the defence counsel.
In his ruling, Justice Saliu Saidu consequently granted the application ordering the defendant to forfeit the sum of N437 million found by EFCC in his possession, and which sum is reasonably suspected to be proceeds of unlawful activity.
The court also ordered the final forfeiture of another N97.3 million found by the commission in the defendant’s account.
In addition, the court ordered a forfeiture of another sum of N129 million and 137,000 dollars found by the commission.