EFCC Files Application For Final Forfeiture Of N664.4M Diverted Sure-P Fund
The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) has filed a motion on notice before a Federal High Court in Lagos seeking the permanent forfeiture of the sums of N664,475,246.6, $137,680.11 and property it recovered from the Permanent Secretary in the Federal Ministry of Labour and Productivity, Dr Clement Illoh Onubuogo, to the Federal Government.
The anti-graft agency had on August 17, secured an order of temporary forfeiture of the money, 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, to the Federal Government.
In making the order, Justice Abdul-Azeez Anka, directed the EFCC to notify the Permanent Secretary, in whose possession the property were found, to appear before the court and show cause within two weeks why they should not be permanently forfeited to the Federal Government.
The judge equally ordered the commission to publicise the interim orders in any national daily to allow any interested party appear before the court to show cause within two weeks why the order should not be made permanent.
However, at the resumed hearing of the matter before a vacation judge, Justice Chuka Obiozor, today, EFCC’s lawyer, Rotimi Oyedepo, disclosed that a motion seeking the final forfeiture of the money and property to the Federal Government has been filed.
He further disclosed that the motion brought pursuant to Section 17 (4) of the Advance Fee Fraud and other fraud related offences Act has been served on the Permanent Secretary, whom he said is yet to file a counter-affidavit.
He had earlier informed the court that as directed by Justice Anka, the EFCC had published the interim order on August 23.
In his response, Clement’s lawyer, T. S. Awhana, while acknowledging the receipt of the motion for final forfeiture, said he had already filed a counter-affidavit against it.
The lawyer added that he had equally filed a Notice of Preliminary Objection challenging the court’s jurisdiction to make the interim order.
According to him, it was improper for the commission to come before the Lagos court when all transactions leading to the suit were conducted in Abuja.
Awhana also informed the court of another pending application seeking to discharge the interim order which he claimed was fraudulently obtained by the EFCC.
He claimed that an attempt by a court’s bailiff to serve the processes on the EFCC was unsuccessful as an official of the commission he met at its official refused to accept the court papers.
The matter was consequently adjourned to September 22, to allow for exchange of processes between parties.
As at the last hearing date, prosecution counsel, Rotimi Oyedepo, while arguing the ex-parte application dated August 15, 2017, alleged that the property were owned by the Permanent Secretary and were reasonably suspected to be proceeds of stealing.
According to him, the said N664,475,246.6 consisted of N437,348,181.16, N97,300,613.44 and N129,826,452.00, found in Onubuogo’s bank account in possession of fifteen persons working under his supervision at the Ministry of Labour and Productivity.
The names of the fifteen individuals were given as: Salisu Bala Kura, Rabiu Said, Tonye Isokeiri, Buhari Maaji Dahiru, John Isokwa Kanku, Ahmed Mahmud Muazu, Muktar Sufian, Udoh Nnamdi and Umar Bello Mashi.
Others are: Salogu Karo, Usman Bello, Ahmed Mohammed Makki, Umar Abubakar, Aliyu Abubakar and Enape Victoria.
In a 6-page affidavit in support of the application deposed to by an EFCC investigator, Huleji Abraham Tukura, it was averred that Onubuogo converted the funds from the N10 billion released by the Federal Government during his supervision of the Subsidy Re-investment Programme (SURE-P)
“Out of the N10 billion, 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.
“He also used his position to receive kickbacks and gratification from the various contractors under the SURE-P programme using his staff and front companies”, the deponent averred.
According to the deponent, from kickbacks he received, Onubuogo paid the sums of N81,110,250 and $600,000 into his bank account using fictitious names.
In another instance, Onubuogo was accused of receiving the sum of N37, 803,000 “which was diverted through Agoha Joseph Emeka, a staff of the Federal Ministry of Labour and employment for his personal gain.”
He was also accused of converting the sum of N159, 770,383.45 through his bank account to personal use while also laundering the sum of N123, 000,000 fraudulently through his undeclared bank account.