The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC has scored another victory on Friday against corrupt public officials just a day after the conviction and sentencing of a former governor of Abia State, Orji Uzor Kalu, to 12-years imprisonment for a N7.65bn fraud in Ikoyi, Lagos.
Justice T G Ringin of the Federal High Court in Owerri has granted a final forfeiture of N1.5billion state of the art 200 bedded hospital, Dews Of Hope Hospital, Owerri, allegedly owned by an aide of former Imo State Governor and a serving Senator Rochas Okorocha.
The Commission had on the 22nd August, 2019 obtained the interim forfeiture of the property from a vacation Judge, Hon. Justice A. T. Mohammed of Federal High Court in Port Harcourt.
A statement by the Head of Media and Publicity of the EFCC, Mr. Wilson Uwujaren, said the forfeiture proceeding was initiated when in the course of investigation some funds were traced from the account of Government House, Owerri to the hospital.
Further investigation revealed that Dr. Paschal Obi, who happened to be the former permanent Secretary and Principal Secretary to Okorocha, now a serving House of Representatives member representing Ideato North and South constituency was the signatory to the accounts.
However, Obi vehemently denied the ownership of the hospital when he was invited by the Enugu Zonal office, prompting the invitation of members of board of directors of the hospital who also said they neither knew how it was built nor even operated on a daily basis.
The managing director of the hospital on invitation could not also explain how the establishment of the hospital was funded.
These developments then led the Commission to file for final forfeiture of the property on July 25, 2019 under Section 17 of the Advance Fee Fraud, and Other Related Offences Act 2006.
Following the filing for the final forfeiture, the court ordered the anti-graft agency to publish the Order on national dailies which was accordingly complied with in The Nation Newspaper on 30th of August, 2019 and in Leadership Newspaper on 3rd September, 2019 respectively asking interested parties to show cause why the property cannot be forfeited to the federal government within fourteen days from the date of publication.
After the expiration of the 14 days period and even beyond, no one came up to show interest on the hospital, hence the Commission filed application for its final forfeiture.
The hospital located at the heart of Owerri metropolis, had an adjourning staff and doctor’s quarters.