By Adaeze Iroha
A Federal High Court in Lagos has ordered final forfeiture of N2.24 billion recovered from a former Chief of Air Staff, Air Marshal Adesola Amosu, to the Federal Government.
Justice Mojisola Olatoregun gave the order following an application by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) on June 7, 2018.
The EFCC had said that the sum was reasonably suspected to be proceeds of an unlawful activity.
The judge also ordered final forfeiture an order for the forfeiture of N190,828,978.15k recovered by EFCC from a former Nigeria Air Force (NAF) Director of Finance and Budget, Air Commodore Olugbenga Gbadebo.
Olatoregun further ordered final forfeiture of N101 million recovered from Solomon Enterprises, a company linked to Amosu.
The court had earlier granted an interim order of forfeiture of the sums.
It directed the EFCC to publish the interim order in The Nation and Punch newspapers so that the respondents or anyone interested can show cause as to why the final order of forfeiture should not be made in favour of the Federal Government.
Amosu and an interested party, Air Vice Marshal Bolaji Adigun, had filed counter-application, arguing that the funds were proceeds of their personal businesses and not from illegal activities.
At the resumed hearing today, Olatoregun dismissed the applications, saying that they failed to provide facts to ascertain if the funds were obtained unlawfully.
“Upon examination of the two applications from the first respondent (Amosu) and the interested party, dated July 28, 2018, and asking that the interim orders be set aside, I found nothing to set aside the order.
“The affidavits filed disclosed no reason why the order of final forfeiture should not be made; the applications are hereby dismissed. The only conclusion I can reach is that these funds are proceeds of an unlawful activity.
“I hereby order the final forfeiture of these sums to the Federal Government of Nigeria: N2,244,500,000, N190,828,978.15 and N101 million.
“The funds should be paid into the nominated GTB treasury single account of the Federal Government and an affidavit of compliance filed within 14 days.” Olatoregun ruled.
Amosu, Gbadebo and a former NAF Chief of Accounts and Budget, Air Vice Marshal Jacob, were on trial before Justice Mohammed Idris of the Federal High Court before the judge was elevated to the court of Appeal.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the trial is expected to start afresh before Justice Chukwujekwu Aneke.
EFCC accused them of converting N21 billion from NAF through various companies, namely Delfina Oil and Gas Ltd., Mcallan Oil and Gas Ltd., Hebron Housing and Properties Company Ltd., Trapezites BDC, Fonds and Pricey Ltd., Deegee Oil and Gas Ltd., Timsegg Investment Ltd. and Solomon Health Care Ltd.
Amosu and Adigun were alleged to have, between July 17, 2014, and Sept. 16, 2014, removed over N663.4 million from the Nigerian Air Force accounts to purchase properties at 50-52 Tenterden Grove, London (NW4 1TH) and at 93B Shirehall Park, London NW4 2QU.
They were also accused of buying 40A, Bourdillon, Ikoyi, with N900 million, and a property at Sinari Daranijo on Victoria Island with N1.5 billion.
EFCC said they also bought a property named Cappadol Mall on Adetokunbo Ademola Street, Wuse II, Abuja, for N750 million, as well as a property worth over N1.7 billion on Agobogba Street, Parkview, Ikoyi, Lagos, using the air force’s money.
Other properties they allegedly bought with stolen funds include one on Salt Lake Street, Maitama, Abuja, another on Agadez Street, off Aminu Kano Crescent, Abuja, and a property at 61A, Lake Chad Street, Maitama, Abuja, as well as one at 1, River Street, Wuse II Abuja, using alleged stolen funds.
The defendants equally allegedly used N428,139,539.00 removed from NAF accounts to renovate and purchase medical equipment for Solomon HealthCare Ltd. situated at 24, Adeniyi Jones Street, Ikeja.