Court orders forfeiture of Osborne Towers Flat 7B

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The Federal High Court in Lagos yesterday ordered the final forfeiture of Flat 7B in Osborne Towers, Ikoyi, where large sums of money were found.

Justice Saliu Saidu ruled on an application by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) seeking the flat’s forfeiture.

He dismissed an application by Union Bank Plc which claimed control of the flat, describing the bank as a “busy body”.

Large sums of money were found in the flat, including $43,449,947, N23, 218,000 and £27,800, which were forfeited to the Federal Government last June 6.

The EFCC accused former National Intelligence Agency (NIA) Director-General Ayodele Oke of fraudulently converting the agency’s funds and hiding them in the flat.

It alleged that Oke’s wife, Folasade, used part of the funds to buy the flat through her company, Chobe Ventures Ltd.

But, Union Bank said the flat was part of 16, Osborne Road, Ikoyi, belonging to former two-term governor of Bauchi State Alhaji Ahmadu Adamu Mu’azu.

The bank said Muazu mortgaged the property to it by virtue of a tripartite deed of legal mortgage of November 1, 2011 as security for a loan granted to Tripple A Properties & Investment Ltd.

It said the original title deed was vested in it, adding that the loan’s tenor had expired but it was not liquidated.

Union Bank said it sold the flat to Chobe Ventures, owned by Oke’s wife, with an agreement that flat’s owner would observe several “covenants”, including payment of service charges, land use charge and levies, among others.

The bank said Flat 7B forms part of several flats in the property and that it “cannot be severed from the other flats in the building”.

The bank said forfeiting the flat would be detrimental to other occupants of the property as it would not be able to enforce the terms of its agreement with the owner.

Ruling, Justice Saidu held that Chobe Ventures, which was the respondent, did not file anything to controvert the EFCC’s claim that the flat was acquired with proceeds of crime.

“The interested party/applicant has no proprietary or legal interest in the flat having divested its interest by outright sale of the property to the respondent (Chobe Ventures).

“I find the interested party/applicant’s motion to set aside and discharge the order of this court as unmeritorious and same is struck out,” Justice Saidu held.

He agreed with the EFCC that the property was reasonably suspected to have been acquired with proceeds of unlawful activity.

Justice Saidu held: “The respondent, Chobe Ventures, refused and neglected to file anything in this case or to appear.

“As stated earlier, the interested party/applicant does not have a right to the property. The Federal Government will take over the property and all the liabilities attached to it.

“Based on the provision of Section 44 (2) (b) of the Constitution and Section 17 of the Advance Fee Fraud Act, I hereby order the final forfeiture to the Federal Government of Nigeria of the property known as Flat 7B, 16 Osborne Road, Ikoyi, acquired in the name of Chobe Ventures.”

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Godwin Okafor is a financial journalist, Internet Social Entrepreneur and the Founder Naija247news Media Ltd He has over 16 experiences in journalism, which cuts across traditional and digital media. He started his journalism career in Business Day, Where he was a senior editorial graphic artist, before he left to start Naija247news, An Online Financial Newspaper in 2010. He has won series of awards and he is the chairman of Emmerich Resources Limited, the publisher of Naija247news.com and also sits on the board of Students In Business Awards, (SIBA).

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