A Federal High Court, on Friday, ordered final forfeiture of the sum of N449, 597 million found in possession of one Mohammed Tauheed, of Legico Shopping Plaza, to the Federal Government of Nigeria.
The court presided over by Justice Rilwan Aikawa made the final order of the forfeiture after the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), through its lawyer, Idris Mohammed, had moved and argued a Motion on Notice for final forfeiture of the said money.
In urging the court to grant the Motion on Notice, the EFCC lawyer, Mohammed told the court that the application was brought before the court pursuant to Section 17 of the Advance Fee Fraud, and other fraud related offences Act No. 14, 2006, Section 44(2)(K) of the Constitution of Federal Republic of Nigeria, and under the inherent jurisdiction of the court.
Mohammed further informed the court that the application which prayed for the final forfeiture of the sum of N449.579 million, is supported with affidavit of 12 paragraphs, a written address and attached with seven exhibit.
The EFCC lawyer also informed the court that in since the last tmdate that it made an order of temporary forfeiture of the money, neither the respondent in the suit, one Mohammed Tauheed and any member of the public has come before the court to show cause why the money should not be permanently forfeited to the Federal government of Nigeria.
Delivering ruling on the application , Justice Rilwan Aikawa said: “I have perused the motion on notice filed by the applicant. In the ruling of this court order which ordered the respondent and other interested parties to show cause why the order should not be made final.
“From the court’s record, the respondent or any other party have not file any affidavit why the Order should not be made final.
“In the circumstance, I have no option than to grant the Motion as prayed.
“Accordingly, I ordered that the sum of N449. 597 million found in possession of the respondent (Muhammad Tauheed), which reasonably suspected to be proceeds of crime be final Forfeited to the Federal government of Nigeria”.
It would be recalled that Justice Aikawa had on April 20, 2017, granted a temporary forfeiture of the said money after the EFCC had approached his court with an affidavit for such order.
In the affidavit sworn to by one of its Operatives, Moses Awolusi, it was stated that the anti-graft agency received an intelligent report on the April 7, 2017, that money in several Ghana must go bags were warehoused in one of the shops located at Legico shopping Plaza, at Victoria island, Lagos.
The intellegence report according to the EFCC was analyzed and found worthy of investigation against one Mohammed Tauheed.
The deponent also stated that the investigation revealed that on the April 7, 2017, the shop with number LS64 at Legico shopping Plaza, Ahmadu Bello Way Victoria island
was searched and a whopping sum of N449,579 million was found in different bags popularly known as Ghana must go.
He also stated that upon inquiries on the ownership of the shop where the exhibit was recovered indicated that the shop had not been opened for close to two years. Adding that both the Chairman and vice chairman of the plaza, Mr Sulaiman Mukthar Daba and Alhaji Ishaq Ayandiran, could not trace the identity of the owner of the shop, but came to EFCC’s office with the said Mohammed Tauheed, who claimed the ownership of the money and informed the EFCC that he received the money in cash from a serving Government official whose name he will not disclose for security reasons.
It was further States in the affidavit that Mohammed Tauheed in the presence of his lawyer agreed to return the money back to Federal Government of Nigeria who is the rightful owner of the money. And that the said money recovered was reasonably suspected to be proceed of crime fraudulently diverted from the Federal Government of Nigeria.
The deponent also stated that the said Mohammed Tauheed who was arrested in connection with the money criminally conspired with the owner of the aforementioned shop now at large to launder the said funds.
Therefore the EFCC said it will be in the interest of Justice if the court can in the interim, make an order of forfeiture to the Federal Government of Nigeria, and allow Mohammed Tauheed to put on notice and appear before the court within 14 days to show cause why the money found in their possession should not be forfeited to the Federal Government of Nigeria.
The presiding judge,Rilwan Aikawa after listening to the submission of Mr. Rotimi Oyedepo, granted order of temporary forfeiture of the money to the Federal Government of Nigeria, the court also ordered EFCC to advertise the order of the court within 14 days for any interested party to come before the court to convince the court while the money should not be permanently forfeited to the Federal Government of Nigeria.
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