A Federal High Court sitting in Lagos presided by Justice Muslim Hassan has ordered the temporary forfeiture of a sum of N1. 825 billion found in the bank accounts of a limited liability company, Acquila Leasing Limited traced to former Chief of Naval staff,Admiral Dele Ezeoba (rtd.).
The judge made the order of temporary forfeiture of the said sum following an Ex-parte application filed before his court by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, (EFCC), on behalf of the Federal Government of Nigeria.
While urging the court to seize the said fund temporary Wednesday, the anti-graft agency claimed that part of N1. 825 billion was allegedly diverted from Nigerian Navy’s coffers by the former Nigeria’s Chief of Naval Staff, Admiral Dele Ezeoba (rtd.), who headed the navy between 2012 and 2014.
An EFCC Prosecutor, Mr. Rotimi Oyedepo, said that the ex parte application, filed pursuant to Section 17 of the Advance Fee Fraud and Other Related Offences Act No. 14, 2006, and Section 44(2)(k) of the 1999 Constitution.
He urged the judge to urgently grant the forfeiture order in the interest of justice.
Consequently, Justice Hassan granted the order and issued 14 days, for Chwuka Onwuchekwa and Acquila Leasing Limited and any other party interested in the money to appear before him to give reasons why the fund should not be permanently forfeited to the Federal Government.
Justice Hassan adjourned till March 29, 2017 for all interested parties to appear before him Listed as the first and second respondents on the motion ex parte are Onwuchekwa and Aquila Leasing Limited.
In an affidavit of urgency filed in support of the application, an operative of the EFCC, Adamu Usman, said Ezeoba was probed following an intelligence report, which, he said, the anti-grant agency analysed and found to be worthy of investigation.
He said the information obtained from Ezeoba on June 21, 2016 by the EFCC revealed that the N1.825billion was proceeds of crime “fraudulently diverted from the Nigerian Navy under the leadership of Ezeoba.”
“That Mr. Dele Joseph Ezeoba used the name of the first respondent (Acquila) to open the fraudulent account in disguise while he was the one who truly laundered the money. That in a desperate bid to further disguise and conceal the illicit source of the said funds, Ezeoba entered into a Memorandum of Understanding to buy shares of Acquila Leasing Limited from the first respondent (Onwuchekwa), who is the Managing Director of the second respondent.”
“That the said shares of Acquila Leasing Limited was worth N2. 378 billion. That out of the N2.378 billion, the sum of N1.825billion only has been recovered in drafts in favour of the Federal Government of Nigeria,” Usman averred