Mr Francis Momoh, who was accused of paying multiple kickbacks to former Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) Executive Director of Projects, Mr. Tuoyo Omatsuli, has urged the Federal High Court sitting in Lagos to lift the forfeiture order placed on his Lekki properties.
Momoh, who is an associate of Omatsuli said the properties in question does not belong to Omatsuli as alleged by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).
It would be recalled, that Justice Chuka Obiozor had on May 17 ordered the temporary forfeiture of four landed properties in Lekki, Lagos State allegedly belonging to Omatsuli following EFCC’s ex -parte application.
The commission said the properties, valued at N846.03million, was reasonably suspected to have been acquired with proceeds of unlawful activities.
The commission accused Omatsuli of receiving kickbacks from a contractor to the NDDC on no fewer than 11 occasions.
An EFCC operative, Adamu Yusuf, said Omatsuli allegedly received a bribe of N3,645,000,000 from a consultant to the NDDC, Starline Consultancy Services Limited.
EFCC through its lawyer, Ekene Eheanacho said the firm was engaged to help NDDC recover its statutory three per cent annual budgets from oil and gas producing companies in the Niger Delta.
Yusuf said it was agreed that Starline Consultancy Services would be paid 10 per cent commission on the total funds recovered.
According to the operative, Starline Consultancy Services eventually succeeded in the job and was paid N10,218,019,060.59 as its 10 per cent commission between August 22, 2014 and June 25, 2015.
According to Yusuf, “Omatsuli agreed and received kickbacks to the tune of N3,645,000,000.000 from Starline Consultancy Services Limited through Building Associates Limited, whose alter ego is Francis Momoh (an ally of Mr. Omatsuli).”
The anti-graft agency in its ex-parte motion presented a table showing that Omatsuli allegedly received kickbacks 11 times from Starline Consultancy Services between August 28, 2014 and September 8, 2015.
Justice Obizor had ordered interested parties to show cause as to why the properties should not be permanently forfeited.
Momoh, in an application filed through his lawyer Norrison Quakers (SAN), sought an order discharging the interim order of forfeiture on two of the properties.
He prayed for an order directing the EFCC to remove any restrictions imposed on the properties, as well as an order restraining the commission from dealing in the properties in any manner.
Momoh also prayed for an order for EFCC to render account of the rents and any monies collected from the time the order of forfeiture was granted until it is discharged.
Momoh said the properties belong to him and Don Parker Properties Ltd, where he is a director, and that they were lawfully and legitimately acquired.
“There is no reasonable basis to believe them to be proceeds of unlawful activity.
“The order attaching the properties was obtained in breach of the interested parties’ fundamental right to fair hearing guaranteed under Section 36 of the 1999 Constitution.
“The order constitutes a breach of the applicants’ constitutional right to acquire and own properties within Nigeria.
“The applicant/respondent (EFCC) not being the owner of the properties does not have the power to manage and control them.
“The applicant/respondent at all material times knew that the interested parties are the owners of the properties, but came before this Honourable Court in the guise that the owners are unknown.”
However, EFCC lawyer Ekene Iheanacho said he needed time to respond to the applications filed by all the interested parties.
Justice Obiozor adjourned until August 1 for hearing.