The Federal High Court in Lagos has ordered the temporary forfeiture of Flat 7B, Osborne Towers, Ikoyi, Lagos, where the Sums of $43,449,947, £27,800 and N23,218,000 were discovered stashed in iron cabinets and “Ghana-must-go” bags, last April.
Justice Saliu Sadu of the Federal High Court sitting in Ikoyi, Lagos, yesterday, ordered the temporary forfeiture of Flat 7B Osborne Towers, Ikoyi, Lagos, where the sums of $43, 449, 947, £27,800 and N23, 218 belonging to the National Intelligence Agency were found last April, to the Federal Government.
The EFCC had earlier named the wife of the sacked Director General of the Nigeria Intelligence Agency (NIA), Mrs. Folashade Oke, as the owner of the flat.
The EFCC said it found out that Mrs. Oke made cash payment of $1.658million for the purchase of the flat between August 25 and September 3, 2015.
The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, had discovered the sums of $43, 449, 947, £27,800 and N23, 218 kept in iron cabinets and jute bags, otherwise known as ‘Ghana-must-go’ bags, in the apartment on Wednesday, April 12, 2017. The money had since been permanently forfeited to the Federal Government.
Justice Sadu gave the forfeiture order on the flat following an ex parte application filed by the counsel to the EFCC, Rotimi Oyedepo. Oyedepo had, on May 5, 2017, revealed that the wife of a former Director-General of the National Intelligence Agency, Ayo Oke, Folashade, owns the apartment.
She was said to have made cash payment of $1.658m for the flat between August 25 and September 3, 2015 in the name of a company, Chobe Ventures Limited. She and her son, Ayodele Oke Jnr., were said to be directors in the company. Oke was also said to have made the cash payment in tranches of $700,000, $650,000 and $353,700 to a Bureau de Change operator, Sulah Petroleum and Gas Limited, who later converted the money to N360, 000,000 and subsequently paid it to Fine and Country Limited for the purchase of the property.
In his ruling on the application today, Justice Sadu directed the EFCC to publish the forfeiture order within 14 days in any of the national dailies as notice to Chobe Ventures, its directors or any interested persons to appear before the court to show cause why the property should not be permanently forfeited to the Federal Government.
The case was adjourned to November 30, 2017. Meanwhile, barely two weeks after the former National Intelligence Agency Director General, Amb. Ayodele Oke, was sacked by President Muhammadu Buhari, a Federal High Court has ordered the forfeiture of the $43 million, $43,449,947, £27,800 and N23,218,000 found in his wife’s Ikoyi apartment in April this year, to the federal government.
This happened as the Chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, Ibrahim Magu, said that there was enormous reward for whistleblowers in the country and pleaded with more Nigerians to blow the lid in stolen public funds and property and get the promised benefits attached to the gesture.
It also emerged that the unnamed young Nigerian, who led the security agents to unravel the huge cash in the Ikoyi home, is being counselled by the EFCC on how he could possibly use the hundreds of millions of Naira accruing to him as a percentage of the amount recovered through his intelligence to the security agents.
The EFCC had taken its prayers to the FHC in Lagos, asking it to permanently confiscate the huge cash to the federal government since it was obvious to the agency that the money was from the proceeds of corruption. In responding to the EFCC prayers, Muslim Hassan ordered the forfeiture of the amount to the government.
Hassan said, “I am in complete agreement with the submission of the learned counsel for the applicant (EFCC) that the property sought to be attached are reasonably suspected to be proceeds of unlawful activities and that by every standard this huge sum of money is not expected to be kept without going through a designated financial institution.
“More so, nobody has shown cause why the said sum should not be forfeited to the federal government of Nigeria. Having regard to the foregoing, I have no other option than to grant this application as prayed” Apparently excited about the seizure, the Acting Chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, Ibrahim Magu, yesterday, called on Nigerians who want a positive change in the country to take advantage of the whistle blowing policy announced by the government early this year and expose more looters and earn money in the process.
Magu, who made the plea at the ongoing 7th Session of the Conference of State Parties to the United Nations Convention Against Corruption holding in Vienna, Austria said aside from contributing to the eradication of corruption, potential whistleblowers also stand of benefitting from the illicit acquisition by the looters.
According to him, the young man who blew the whistle on the $43,449,947, £27,800 and N23,218,000 recovered on April 7, 2017 by the EFCC in an apartment located at 16, Osborne Road, Ikoyi is already a millionaire by virtue of the percentage he is officially entitled to.
Magu said, “We are currently working on the young man because this is just a man who has not seen one million naira of his own before.
So he is under counselling on how to make good use of the money and also the security implication. We don’t want anything bad to happen to him after taking delivery of his entitlement. He is national pride”, he said. “So we encourage more whistle blowers to come forward with genuine information that will lead to recoveries from looters of public treasuries. That is part of the ways we can put an end to the looting madness in the public sector. “When they know that they have no place to keep the loot, as all eyes are on them, they will find looting of public treasuries unattractive “.
Minister Blames Judiciary For Prisons’ Congestion
The Minister of Interior, Ogbeni Rauf Aregbesola, has blamed the congestion in Nigeria’s correctional facilities on the country’s Judiciary, explaining that the Nigerian Correctional Service (NCOS) was not allowed by law to reject inmates sentenced to correctional centres or to release them.
Aregbesola, represented by Special Adviser on Nigerian Correctional Service, Suleiman Tala, stated this while delivering a paper at a policy advocacy conference entitled, “Decongestion of Correctional Centres: Status Quo”, organised as part of the 60th-anniversary celebration of the Order of The Knights of St Mulumba, Nigeria, Lagos Metropolitan Council, which was held in Lagos, adding that the primary responsibility of NCOS is to hold offenders pending the adjudication of their cases before a law court.
“It is important for the public to be aware that the NCOS and the Ministry of Interior are trying their best to tackle the issue from different angles as the length of time the inmates stay at the custodian centre is not determined by NCOS but by the justice system. I may not be able to reiterate exactly what the challenges are with the judiciary, however, as it affects the NCOS we are doing all we can not to compromise the traditional responsibility of the NCOS,” he stated.
Representing the Inspector General of Police, Baba Usman, Lagos State Commissioner of Police, Hakeem Odumosu, accepted that the police contribute to the congestion but gave his reasons.
“Inconsistence of the appearance of police officers to give evidence at trials has been identified as one of the alleged causes of prolonging trial but the IGP has mandated officers must attend court cases as at when due. The police are being hampered by a high level of distrust between the citizens and their police institution,” he stated.
Also at the conference, Lagos State Catholic Archbishop, Alfred Adewale Martins, who was represented by Rev. Paschal Uwaezeapu, stated that decongestion of the prisons would continue to be a matter as long as the government has refused to fix the country.
“The prison would continue to be congested if we don’t fix the society. As long as our society is a place where everybody takes for himself without considering the neighbour then our prison would continue to be congested. If we need to fix the prison we need to fix the family. These prisoners come from a family. We need to fix the education system also. We need to promote justice, without all these, the prison will soon overflow,” he stated.
Meanwhile, the Lagos Metropolitan Grand Knight, KSM William Adebisi, urged the government to declare a state of emergency on the congestion of prisons.
“The government needs to take the matter seriously as it affects the health of the inmates, economy of the company and behavioural change of the inmates,” he stated.
FG Seeks $3bn With Eurobond Offer
The Federal Government has announced plans for a Eurobond issuance in the International Capital Market (ICM) to raise $3billion.
The Debt Management Office (DMO) said, yesterday, that Virtual meetings with investors have been scheduled for today, and September 20, 2021.
It said, “In order to avail local investors the opportunity to invest in the Eurobonds, meetings will also be held with local investors.
“This is the first time local investors will be included in the Roadshows, and this is one of the reasons why a Nigerian Bookrunner (Chapel Hill Denham Advisory Services Ltd) was appointed as one of the Transaction Advisers.
“Through the Eurobond issuance, Nigeria is expected to raise up to $3billion but no more than $6.2billion.”
According to the DMO, the issuance for which all statutory approvals have been received, would be to implement the New External Borrowing in the 2021 Appropriation Act and that “Proceeds are for the financing of various projects in the Act.”
The agency gave further insight, saying, “In addition to providing funding to part-finance the deficit in the 2021 Appropriation Act, the issuance of Eurobonds by Nigeria benefits the country in many other strategic ways; amongst which are: 1. It is an inflow of foreign exchange, leading to an increase in External Reserves.
“External Reserves help support the Naira Exchange Rate, and Nigeria’s sovereign rating.
“When Nigeria raises funds externally, through Eurobonds, it frees up space in the domestic market for private sector and sub-national borrowers. In effect, it helps the sovereign not to crowd out other borrowers in the domestic market.
“The issuance of Eurobonds by Nigeria has opened up opportunities for Nigeria’s corporate sector notably banks, to issue Eurobonds to raise capital in the ICM.
“By so doing, their capital base has been strengthened to provide banking services whilst also meeting regulatory requirements. Nigeria has a sovereign yield curve in the ICM, extending up to 30 years.
“The local listing of Nigeria’s Eurobonds on the Nigerian Exchange Ltd. and the FMDQ Securities Exchange Ltd., have increased the range of products on these two (2) exchanges and their respective market capitalization.
“Overall, Eurobond issuances by Nigeria and the investor meetings that precede the pricing have provided a strong global platform for Nigeria to tell its own story and opportunities available in Nigeria for investors.”
The Transaction Advisers appointed by Nigeria for the issuance were: International Bookrunners – JP Morgan, Citigroup Global Markets Limited; Joint Lead Managers -Standard Chartered Bank and Goldman Sachs; Nigerian Bookrunner – Chapel Hill Denham Advisory Services Ltd; Financial Adviser – FSDH Merchant Bank Ltd; while White & Case LLP, was appointed International Legal Adviser; and Banwo&Ighodalo would serve as Nigerian Legal Adviser.
The last time Nigeria accessed the ICM was November 2018.
Insecurity: Put Nigeria First, FG Tells Media
The Federal Government has tasked the media to put Nigeria first in the reportage of the country’s activities, particularly the fight against insecurity.
The Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, made the call in Abuja during the ceremony of the renaming of the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) Headquarters Building after the former Managing Director and Board Chairman of NAN, late Wada Maida.
Mohammed said it may seem obvious and trite, but for any professional, including a journalist in Nigeria to be able to carry out his or her responsibility at all, the nation must first exist, in peace.
“In other words, if the country goes down, all professionals and everybody go down. It is that stark, and this is why I want to use this platform to appeal to our media to put Nigeria first”, Mohammed said.
Speaking further, the minister said if one picked up most newspapers, watched most television stations or listened to most radio stations in the country, one will be right to think Nigeria is a country at war.
While acknowledging that there were challenges in the country, especially in the area of security, Mohammed, however, said the Buhari administration had not only acknowledged the challenges, it is earnestly tackling the challenges.
“A good example is the decisive manner in which our gallant troops are tackling the banditry in the North-West or the way they are combating the terrorists in the North-East. Our security agencies have also successfully tackled the separatists in the South-East and South-West and the militants in the South-South. Unfortunately, these efforts have only been perfunctorily reflected in the reportage of the security challenges that we face. This is not only unfair, especially to those who are sacrificing their lives to keep us safe, it is unpatriotic.
“To illustrate the damage this non-acknowledgement of the efforts of the security agencies pose to the country, let me tell you what transpired when I recently hosted some members of the Nigerians in Diaspora Organisation (NIDO) UK Chapter, who visited me in my office here in Abuja. They said some of their colleagues who would have come to Nigeria for their programme tagged,‘A Week in and For Nigeria’ during the month of July, did not come out of fear of the security situation in Nigeria. However, those who made the trip said they travelled to their hometowns across the country and returned to Abuja safely. If Nigerians in the diaspora can be afraid to come to their country, imagine how foreigners, including investors and tourists, will feel about coming to the country.
“Whatever image problem Nigeria is suffering from today is mostly due to the unflattering portrayal of the country by the country’s media.
“Even when some media organisations report fake news, they never have the decency to retract such stories and apologise. They simply move on as if nothing has happened.
“We are not saying the media should not report on the security challenges we face. All we are saying is: Be fair and report accurately the efforts being made by the state and federal governments to tackle the challenges. Even if you don’t want to encourage the men and women in uniform fighting to keep us safe, please don’t discourage them with negative reporting. The security challenges we face today will be successfully tackled and Nigeria will not cease to exist, despite the antics of naysayers”, Mohammed added.
Mohammed congratulated the family, friends and associates of the late Maida for the great and much-deserved honour done to him.
He commended the management and staff of the NAN for coming up with the idea to immortalise the late Maida.
“The Federal Government’s decision to approve the proposal was not difficult, upon realising the role played by Alhaji Wada in making NAN the respectable agency that it is today. A man who was everything from Zonal Editor to Foreign Correspondent to Editor-in-Chief to Managing Director to Board Chairman, a man who built this glistening NAN headquarters edifice deserves to be immortalised by the organisation he served so well in his lifetime”, Mohammed stated.
Mohammed prayed that God will continue to comfort and strengthen the family of Maida, even as he prayed that the soul of the departed continues to rest in peace.
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