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Court gives EFCC nod to freeze N136m linked to Army boss

The Federal High Court, Abuja, on Wednesday, gave the EFCC the go-ahead to temporarily freeze the sum of $376, 120 (N136, 155, 440) linked to Maj-Gen. Hakeem Oladapo Otiki.

Justice Ijeoma Ojukwu gave the order in an ex-parte motion with suit number: FHC/ABJ/CS/1380/20 brought by counsel to the anti-graft agency, Ekele Iheanacho, in Abuja.

Gen. Otiki, who is currently standing trial at the Army Court Martial, was said to have detailed some soldiers, sometime in 2019, to provide VIP escort from Sokoto to Kaduna for one Alhaji Ado Aliyu, alongside sum of N400 million, but fled and escaped with the money.

In an affidavit in support of the ex-parte motion, deposed to by Alvan Gurumnaan, an Investigating Officer with the Counter Terrorism Financing and General Investigation (CTGI) Unit of the EFCC, the personnel said by virtue of his position as officer assigned to investigate the intelligence received, he was familiar with the facts of the matter.

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“That upon receipt of the intelligence mentioned in paragraph 1, my team carried out several investigation activities which include making inquiries from the office of the Chief of Army Staff, the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), commercial banks, Corporate Affairs Commission, Code of Conduct Bureau, Salaries and Wages Commission. ”We also interviewed witnesses and suspects with a view to unravel the fraud, tracing the movements of funds suspected to be proceeds of illegal activities, source of the funds, the beneficiaries, among others.

The investigation so far reveals the following: “That Maj.-Gen. Otiki was a serving military officer and the immediate-past General Officer Commanding (GOC) 8 Division of the Nigerian Army, Sokoto. He was the chief accounting officer of the division.

“That one Alhaji Ado, together with his son, Adamu Aliyu, is into the business of Bureau De Change (BDC). They are business associates of Otiki as they assisted him (Otiki) in operating his BDC business known as Karama BDC.

“That Otiki while still in public service acquired Karama BDC Nigeria Ltd. in 2014. Out of the company’s 35, 000, 000 share capital, he had 22, 000, 000 shares. “Similarly, Otiki is also the highest shareholder in Danest Hotel and Suites Nigeria Limited and Daniest Nigeria Ltd.

“The office addresses of the BDC and hotel are respectively in Lagos and Ibadan,” he said.

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Gurumnaan said that Otiki was the sole signatory of the bank accounts of the above-mentioned three companies in three banks.

The EFCC official stated that in spite of actively running and managing the businesses as well as being the sole signatory to the bank accounts of the companies, Otiki denied having any enterprise or shares in any company in Nigeria while completing his assets declaration form in 2016.

 “That on March 9, 2019, being the day for the governorship election in Sokoto State, Otiki invited Alhaji Ado to Sokoto and sold the sum of N100, 000, 000. 00 in cash to the said Alhaji Ado in exchange for the equivalent sum of USD277, 700 (at the agreed exchange rate).

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The said USD277, 700 was paid in cash to Otiki. “To facilitate the above unofficial transaction, Otiki provided detailed military security escort for Alhaji Ado from Kaduna to Sokoto and back to Kaduna.

“That the Nigerian Army Headquarters specifically released special intervention funds to the 8 Division of the Nigerian Army headed by Otiki for the purpose of improving on the infrastructure within the said 8 Division,” he said.

Gurumnaan gave details of the funds released as N150 million into 8 Division’s CBN account number: 0150459961048 on March 24, 2019; N50 million into 8 Division’s number: 5030063086 in a commercial bank on June 18, 2019 and N160 million into 8 Division’s CBN account number: 0150459961048 on July 5, 2019. Iheanacho, in his argument before Justice Ojukwu, said the motion was brought pursuant to Section 44(2) of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 (as amended), Section 17 of Advanced Fee Fraud and Other Fraud Related Offences Act 14, 2006.

In her ruling, Justice Ojukwu, who granted the anti-graft prayers, ordered that the order for forfeiture be published within 14 days for any person who was found in possession of the money or any person who has any interest to show cause within 14 days while the final forfeiture order should not be made by the court.

The judge, who directed the EFCC to publish the order in a national daily, adjourned hearing on the matter till February 24.