- Former Chief of Naval Staff, Dele Ezeoba is facing charges of corruption
- A Federal High Court says he is to forfeit N1.83 billion to the Nigerian government
- The money is said to be part of the proceeds of funds fraudulently diverted from the Nigerian Navy, under the leadership of Ezeoba
A former Chief of Naval Staff, Dele Ezeoba, has been ordered by a Federal High Court in Lagos on Thursday, April 6, to finally forfeit N1.83 billion to the federal government.
The court made the order for permanent forfeiture of the sum, following an application by the EFCC prosecutor, Rotimi Oyedepo, pursuant to Section 17 of the Advanced Fee Fraud Act 2006.
NAIJ.com gathered that Chukwuka Onwuchekwa and Aquila Leasing Ltd were joined in the suit as defendants.
Muslim Hassan, the trial judge, had on March 15, issue an interim order for forfeiture of the said sum.
Hassan had then ordered the EFCC to make a publication of same in a national newspaper, for the knowledge of interested parties.
Delivering judgment on Thursday, April 6, the judge ordered a final forfeiture of N1.825 billion to the coffers of the Federal Government of Nigeria.
He held that the EFCC, having complied with the provisions of Section 17 of the Act, as well the EFCC Act and the fact that the property was unclaimed, it was appropriate to make the orders.
“Having satisfied that such property is an unclaimed property, and also satisfying the provisions of the law, the court shall order the final forfeiture of the said property.
“In this view, there is no other proof required to enable the court make an order of final forfeiture; this application is meritorious and hereby granted.
“An order is hereby made for final forfeiture of the total sum of N1.825 billion to the federal government of Nigeria,” Hassan ruled.
Premium Times reports that the EFCC had, while moving the application, said that the money was traced to the account of Aquila Leasing Ltd and that Ezeoba had agreed, in his statement to the EFCC, to forfeit the money.
The anti-graft agency said the money was proceed of crime fraudulently diverted from the Nigerian Navy, under the leadership of Mr. Ezeoba, a retired admiral.
The anti-graft agency said Mr. Ezeoba used the name of “Chukwuka Onwuchekwa’’ to open a fraudulent account in disguise, while he was the one who truly laundered the money.
The EFCC said the former Naval Chief admitted that the account was opened with Mr. Onwuchekwa’s consent while he (Ezeoba) managed it.
The commission said that in a “desperate bid” to further disguise and conceal the illicit source of the funds, Mr. Ezeoba entered into a memorandum of understanding to buy Aquila’s shares from Mr. Onwuchekwa, who was the managing director.
It said that the shares were worth N2.4 billion, out of which N1.83 billion had been recovered in drafts in favour of the Federal Government.
The EFCC had therefore, sought for an order of the court to forfeit the entire the N1.825 billion to the federal government.
Meanwhile, the respondent did not oppose the application for final forfeiture of the sums.
Counsel to the respondent, Pascal Madu, had said that his clients were not opposed to the permanent forfeiture of the money.
He, however, said that his clients were not involved in any fraud, adding that Mr. Ezeoba, gave them the money to buy shares for him, as part of savings over the years.
Meanwhile, a Federal High Court in Lagos has unfrozen former first lady Patience Jonathan's account containing $5.9m.
Pictures from the court premises showed large number of women waiting for the judgment that eventually returned Patience's millions of dollars back to her.