A Federal High Court in Lagos has ordered the interim forfeiture of N664,475,246.6 and $137,680.11 recovered from a serving Permanent Secretary in the Federal Ministry of Labour and Productivity, Dr Clement Illoh Onubuogo.
Justice Abdulaziz Anka made the order yesterday following an motion ex parte application dated August 15,2017 brought by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).
The judge also authorised the EFCC to seize a property described as “Clement Illoh’s Mansion” located at Ikom Quarters, Issala-Azegba in Delta State and a hotel at No. 19, Madue Nwafor Street, off Achala Ibuzo Road, Asaba, Delta State.
After granting the order, Justice Anka directed the EFCC to notify the Permanent Secretary, in whose possession the properties were found, or any other person interested in the properties to appear before the court and show cause within 14 days why the properties should not be permanently forfeited to the Federal Government.
The judge also directed the publication of the interim orders in any national newspaper for any interested person to appear before the judge to show cause within 14 days why the order should not be made permanent.
He adjourned the matter till September 6 for ruling.
Earlier, EFCC Counsel Rotimi Oyedepo, told the court that both buildings belong to the Permanent Secretary and were reasonably suspected to be proceeds of stealing.
Oyedepo, in the application dated August 15, 2017, pleaded with thw court that if the matter was not “urgently determined during vacation, the assets may be dissipated.”
He said the N664,475,246.6 consisted of N437,348,181.16, N97,300,613.44 found in Onubuogo’s First Bank account No. 3033750243 and N129,826,452.00 found in the possession of 15 persons working under Onubuogo’s supervision at the Ministry of Labour and Productivity.
The persons are Salisu Bala Kura, Rabiu Said, Tonye Isokeiri, Buhari Maaji Dahiru, John Isokwa Kanku, Ahmed Mahmud Muazu, Muktar Sufian, Udoh Nnamdi, Umar Bello Mashi, Salogu Karo, Usman Bello, Ahmed Mohammed Makki, Umar Abubakar, Aliyu Abubakar and Enape Victoria.
The application was supported by a six-page affidavit filed by an EFCC investigator, Huleji Abraham Tukura.
He averred that Onubuogo converted the funds from the N10 billion released by the Federal Government during his supervision of the Subsidy Reinvestment (SURE-P) programme.
“Out of the N10billion, we have traced a total sum of N876,981,225.05 to the respondent which he converted to his personal gain.The respondent, from the fictitious and fraudulent contracts to his company Clement & Bob Associate, fraudulently enriched himself to the tune of N94,829,845.60 which were funds meant for SURE-P Technical Vocational Training Programme,” Tukura said.
“He also used his position to receive kickback/gratification from the various contractors under the SURE-P programme using his staff and front companies.”
According to him, Onubuogo, from kickbacks received, paid N81,110,250 and N600,000 (N1023,200,000) into his company’s Zenith Bank account No. 1013449507 using fictitious names.
In another instance, Onubuogo allegedly received N37,803,000 “which was diverted through Agoha Joseph Emeka, a staff of the Federal Ministry of Labour and employment for his personal gain.”
Other sums allegedly converted and laundered included N159,770,383.45 through his Zenith Bank account, N123,000,000 “fraudulently concealed” through his undeclared Access Bank account among others.