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Court forfeits ex-Army General’s N426.7m to FG

A Federal High Court, sitting in Lagos State, on Friday, forfeited to the Federal Government, the sum of N426.7 million allegedly belonging to a retired officer of the Nigerian Army, Brig.-Gen. John Onimisi Ozigi.

Justice Muslim Hassan, who is sitting on the matter, made the order following a motion on notice by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) seeking final forfeiture of the sum.

The judge concurred with the EFCC that the sum was reasonably suspected to be crime proceeds.

The judge said the Respondent failed to satisfy the court with concrete evidence why monies suspected to be proceeds of unlawful activities should not be forfeited to the government.

“The application has met the conditions stipulated in Section 17 of the Advanced Fee Fraud and other related offences Act.

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“The application is meritorious and it is hereby granted as prayed,” Hassan said.

The application was filed by EFCC counsel Mr. Nkereuwem Anana.

Joined as respondents in the suit were: Ozigi and a company Diamond Head Ventures and Dev. Company Ltd.

Justice Hassan had earlier issued an interim order for forfeiture of the sum, following the EFCC’s ex parte application.

He ordered interested parties to appear and show cause why the interim orders should not be made permanent.

In March, the EFCC argued its application for final forfeiture of the sum on the grounds that they were reasonably suspected to be proceeds of unalwful activities.

The Court then adjourne till April 6, for judgment.

But, following the COVID-19 pandemic, judgment could not be delivered and counsel were informed of a new date.

At the resumption of proceedings yesterday, Justice Hassan granted the motion for final forefeiture as prayed by the anti-graft agency.

In the suit numbered FHC/L/CS/1094/18 the Commission had prayed for an order, finally forfeiting to the Federal Government, the total sum of N426.7 million found in the account of the Respondent.

The EFCC in an affidavit deposed to by one of its operatives, Clever Ibrahim, said that the first Respondent was an officer of the Nigerian Army, while the second respondent was a business name owned and incorporated by the first Respondent under the law of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.

The Deponent also stated that the first Respondent was a salary earner and a public officer under the rank at a Brigadier-General with an estimated salary of about N750. 000.00 (seven hunched and fifty thousand none) per month.

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He also stated that intelligence information revealed that the monies found in accounts opened In the name of the first and second Respondents were not reasonably justifiable and commensurate with the first Respondent’s legitimate income

According to the Commission, the sum was reasonably suspected to be crime proceeds.

The deponent averred that when the first respondent was confronted with respect to the sums in the account, he made a statement to the commission.

He said that in the said statement, the respondent indicated willingness to refund the money to the Federal Government, adding that the said statement was attached as EXHIBH EFCC 3.

He further argued that the order, if made, would serve the course of Justice, as same is sought in good faith and in accordance with the Oaths Act.