Posted by News Express | 6 May 2017 | 2,881 times
The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) on Friday finally broke its silence on the owner of the flat at the luxury Osborne Towers in Ikoyi Lagos from which it seized approximately N13 billion cash on April 12, 2017.
The anti-graft agency while seeking an order of final forfeiture of the money to the Federal Government, revealed that the wife of the embattled Director General of the National Intelligence Agency (NIA), Ayo Oke, paid a princely $1.658m to acquire the flat.
Oke was said to have made a cash payment of $1.658m for the purchase of the flat between August 25 and September 3, 2015 in the name of a company, Chobe Ventures Limited.
She and her son, Ayodele Oke Junior, are 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, Sulah Petroleum and Gas Limited, which later converted the sums to N360,000,000 and subsequently paid it to Fine and Country Limited for the purchase of the property.
Addressing Justice Muslim Hassan of a Federal High Court in Lagos yesterday, the prosecution counsel, Rotimi Oyedepo, tendered as exhibit the receipt issued by Fine and Country Limited to Chobe Ventures Limited.
According to Oyedepo, “The circumstances leading to the discovery of the huge sums stockpiled in Flat 7B, Osborne Towers, leaves no one in doubt that the act was pursuant to an unlawful activity.
“The very act of making cash payment of $1.6m without going through any financial institution by Mrs. Folashade Oke for the acquisition of Flat 7B, Osborne Towers, is a criminal act punishable by the Money Laundering (Prohibition) Amendment Act. I refer My Lord to sections 1(a), 16(d) and 16(2)(b) of the Money Laundering (Prohibition) Amendment Act.”
Also, in the affidavit filed by the prosecution, Chobe Ventures, which is not into any business, was said to be merely incorporated to retain proceeds of suspected unlawful activities of Oke.
While urging the court to order the permanent forfeiture of the funds to the Federal Government, Oyedepo argued that the property, “which was purchased in a criminal manner, made the money recovered therein to be proceeds of unlawful acts.”
Oyedepo further said that that despite the newspaper advertisement of the initial order of April 13, 2017 temporarily forfeiting the money to the Federal Government, no one showed up in court today to show cause why the money should not be permanently forfeited to the Federal Government.
Oyedepo also observed that Chobe Ventures Limited, in whose apartment the huge sums were recovered, did not come to court to challenge the forfeiture order, despite being served with the motion on notice at its registered address of No. 18 Ogunmodede Street, off Allen Avenue, Ikeja, Lagos.
He added: “The failure of Chobe Ventures Limited, in whose custody these properties we are seeking to forfeit were found, to show cause before My Lord today why the property (money) should not be forfeited to the Federal Government of Nigeria, Your Lordship should hold that Chobe Ventures Limited has admitted all the facts deposed to in our affidavit and order the final forfeiture of the property to the Federal Government.”
Earlier, a lawyer, Olukoya Ogungbeje, had filed an application urging the court to suspend further action in the forfeiture proceedings pending the outcome of the Vice-President Yemi Osinbajo three-man panel constituted by President Muhammadu Buhari to investigate the claim by the NIA boss, Oke, that the money belongs to the agency.
They further argued that the Commission had not yet identified the owner of the money as required by Section 44(2)(k) of the Constitution
However, Oyedepo urged the court to dismiss the lawyer’s application and award a heavy cost against him for seeking to waste the time of the court.
“I submit that coming to My Lord through the back door by way of this application is a violent abuse of the processes of this court. The application is standing in the way of justice and the applicant even lacks the locus standi to be a party in this suit,” he added.
Justice Hassan adjourned the matter June 6, 2017.
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