Court Orders Temporary Forfeiture Of N437m, Properties Linked To Permanent Secretary
The Federal High Court Sitting in Lagos has granted an order of interim forfeiture of the sum of N437,348,181 linked to a current Permanent Secretary of the Federal Ministry of Labour and Employment, Clement Illoh Onubuogu.
Justice Abdulaziz Anka granted the order at the instance of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), which says that it reasonably suspects the money to be proceeds of unlawful activity.
The court also granted the interim forfeiture of the sum of N129,826,452.00 found by the Commission in possession of various staffs who worked with the permanent Secretary and are believed to have received the said sum as kickbacks/gratification.
Also mentioned in the forfeiture order is a building described as a mansion situated and located at Ikom Quarters, Issala-Azegba in Delta State and a hotel located at No. 19 Madue Nwafor Street, off Achala Ibuzo Road, Asaba, Delta State.
The EFCC told the court that both buildings belong to the permanent secretary and are also reasonably suspected to be proceeds of unlawful activity.
In documents put before the court, the EFCC says that it received intelligence showing that the funds were meant for various SURE-P programmes under the Federal Ministry of Labour and Employment.
Further investigations, the anti-graft agency added, showed that Mr Clement Illoh Onubuogo the Permanent Secretary, of the Ministry, was saddled at the time with the responsibility of the supervision of the SURE-P Programmes viz SURE-P Technical and Vocational Educational Training and Community Service Women and Youth Empowerment Programs under his Ministry.
He allegedly used this opportunity to divert and convert the funds to his personal use.
After granting the interim forfeiture order, Justice Anka directed the EFCC to notify the Permanent Secretary, in whose possession the properties were found, to appear before the court and show cause within 14 days why the properties should not be permanently forfeited to the Federal Government of Nigeria.
The court also directed the publication of the interim orders in any national newspaper for anyone who is interested in the cash sums and the properties to appear before the judge to show cause within 14 days why the final order of forfeiture of the properties should not be made in favour of the Federal Government of Nigeria.