402 Cybercrime Suspects Arrested In Lekki In Three Months – EFCC

A photo combination of some of the suspects arrested by the EFCC in the Lekki area of Lagos.

 

Lekki, a fast-developing upper-middle-class area of Lagos Metropolis, is emerging as the new hub of internet-related fraud, the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) said on Friday.

Data from the investigation activities of the Lagos Command of the anti-graft agency for the second quarter of 2021 indicates that the area is the preferred location for all manner of cyber fraud syndicates.

“Between April and June 2021, the Advance Fee Fraud and Cyber Crime Sections of the Command recorded a total of 402 internet-related fraud arrests,” EFCC spokesman, Wilson Uwujaren, said.

“While the Advance Fee Fraud Section was responsible for 243 arrests, the Cyber Crime Section executed 18 sting operations which resulted in 159 arrests, from which 13 convictions have so far been recorded.

“Of the 159 suspects arrested by the Cyber Crime Section, 70 are from Lekki, comprising communities such as Ajah, Badore, Victoria Garden City, Sangotedo and Oniru.”

A breakdown of the figure showed that Ajah accounted for 24 suspects, while Oniru and Sangotedo had 14 and 13 suspects respectively.

Similarly, Badore had eight suspects and neighbouring Ikoyi and Eko Atlantic had two suspects and one suspect respectively. Ikorodu and Alagbado on the Lagos Mainland make up the remainder.

According to Uwujaren, the suspects are mostly millennials, with 82 of them aged between 25-34 years – who are either still in school, recent graduates, or university dropouts.

“Analysis of the data from the Cyber Crime Section further shows that the dominant form of internet crime is dating scam/online dating scam/romance scam. Sixty-four per cent of individuals arrested are involved in romance scam, followed closely by ‘middleman scam’ and ‘picking’ which account for eight per cent and seven per cent respectively, of those arrested.

“The 64% involved in the dating scam benefitted to the tune of N8,310,000; $349,290 USD; £ 900; €10 and Cryptocurrency 0.17513,” the EFCC spokesman added.

“Other typologies of fraud identified include forgery, possession of fraudulent documents, spamming, credit card fraud, impersonation, rental scam, loan fraud, business email compromise, hacking, stealing, cheque scam, phishing, and money laundering.

“The data also reveals gift cards, at 39%, as the prevalent method employed by the suspects to access their illicit funds. It is followed by bank transfers at 27% and cryptocurrency at 21%.”

A total of $12, 512.49USD was recovered from the e-wallet accounts of four suspects within the period, Uwujaren revealed.

N25.7bn Theft: Court Freezes Francis Atuche’s N19.1bn In 24 Banks

A file photo of a court gavel.
A file photo of a court gavel.

 

The Lagos High Court sitting in Ikeja has made an order freezing assets and funds totalling about N19billion, allegedly kept in 24 banks by a convicted former Managing Director of the defunct Bank PHB, Francis Atuche.

Justice Lateefat Okunnu made the order sequel to an August 17 application by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) between the Federal Government on the one hand and Atuche and Ugo Anyanwu as first and defendants.

In June 2021, the judge had sentenced Atuche to a 6 year jail term for the offence of stealing the sum of N25.7bn belonging to the bank.

READ ALSO: Kogi Govt Threatens To Sue EFCC Over Salary Bailout Funds

Anyanwu, who served as his former Chief Financial Officer at the bank, was also sentenced alongside Atuche to a jail term of 4 years.

Justice Okunnu, while sentencing the duo, ordered that they should make a restitution of the N25.7b to the Federal Government to replace the funds stolen from the public to bail out the bank.

The EFCC’s Counsel, Snr Advocate of Nigeria, Kemi Pinheiro moved the exparte application to freeze the N19.1bn pursuant to sections 6(d), 20, 24, 26(1), 30 and 34(1) of the EFCC Act and sections 290, 294 and 297 of the Administration of Criminal Justice Law 2015.

In granting his prayers, Justice Okunnu held that “An order is made restraining the 1st Defendant (Atuche) whether by himself, or acting through the persons or entities listed or such other persons including but not limited to his family members or agents, from removing, alienating, disposing of, dealing with or diminishing the value of assets, proceeds of economic and financial crimes or otherwise in the name of the 1st Defendant…”

She noted that the assets or funds included those held indirectly by or for Atuche’s benefit, whether solely or jointly held, that is located in Nigeria or worldwide.

The judge further froze any bank account being run and operated by Atuche “personally or jointly, whether in his personal name or otherwise or with the Bank Verification Number: 22295357230 in any of the respondent banks to the tune of N19,178,253,050.00 only, pursuant to the Restitution Order made by this Honourable Court on the 16 day of June 2021.

She barred Atuche and his privies – including his lawyers – from presenting to the Respondent Banks any mandate or instruction for the withdrawal of any money and/or funds standing to the credit of any of their accounts to the tune of N19, 178, 253. 050.

In another order, she restrained the banks from honouring any such instruction from Atuche and his privies.

The judge added: “A mandatory order of injunction is made directing the named respondent banks to file within 48 hours of service of this Order of this Honourable Court on them returns of the Statements of Account of the 1st Defendant (personally or jointly) whether in his personal name or otherwise or with the Bank Verification Number: 22295357230 and the accounts of persons and entities listed in the afore mentioned Schedules A and B maintained with them . . .

“A further order is made directing service of the Order made herein on persons affected thereby including in particular, the persons and entities listed in Schedules A and B. by way of advertisement in either The Punch or Thisday or The Guardian newspaper.

The affected banks are, Access Bank Plc, Citi Bank Ltd, Ecobank Nigeria Ltd, Fidelity Bank Nigeria Plc, First Bank Of Nigeria Plc, First City Monument Bank and Globus Bank Ltd.

Others are Guaranty Trust Bank Plc, Heritage Bank Ltd, Keystone Bank Ltd, Lotus Bank Ltd, Mainstreet Bank Plc, Polaris Bank Plc, Platinum Mortgage Bank Ltd, Providus Bank Ltd and Stanbic IBTC Nigeria Ltd.

The rest are Standard Chartered Bank, Sterling Bank Plc, Titan Trust Bank Ltd, Union Bank Of Nigeria Plc, United Bank For Africa Plc, Unity Bank Plc, Wema Bank Plc and Zenith Bank Plc.

According to the EFCC, 15 persons were used as front by Atuche to launder the funds.

They are: Anthony Atuche, Emeka Patrick Atuche, Paul Okobi, Felix Oyiana, Moruf Kazeem Adisa, Olatunji Abiodun, Daniel Enebeli, Aina Olugbenga, Augustine Nwabueze, Omonua Benedict, Oliver King Nduaaron, Dr. Chris Ike Ogbechie, Mr. Murat Bektaslar, Attah Omataikpo Olukemi and Thomas Etuh.

The 22 firms in which Atuche has interest directly or indirectly, according to the EFCC, are Aqua Harvest Ltd, Hubmart Stores Limited, Hubmart Limited, Sapphire Capital Management Limited, Homeland Real Estate Company Limited, Malechi Foods Limited, Homeland Meridian Partners Limited, Promise Investment Limited, Temple Cottage Hotel Limited, Wegas Properties Project Limited, Buckhead Construction Limited, Claremount Management Services Limited, Afco Associates Limited, Platinum Capital Limited, Ghazali Yakubu Investment Limited, The Financial (Services) Company Limited, Venture Resources Limited, Elizabeth-A Company Limited, Signature Partners Limited, Purplepay Technologies Limited, Oakwood Asset Management Limited And Conesto Nigeria Limited.

Kogi Govt Threatens To Sue EFCC Over Salary Bailout Funds

The Commissioner of Information and Communication in Kogi State, Kingsley Fanwo, briefs reporters at the Kogi Liaison Office in Abuja on September 2, 2021. Channels TV/ Sodiq Adelakun

 

The Kogi State government has threatened to take legal action against the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).

Commissioner of Information and Communication in the state, Kingsley Fanwo, made the threat on Thursday while briefing reporters at the Kogi Liaison Office in Abuja.

He accused the EFCC of a deliberate attempt to malign the integrity of the state governor, Yahaya Bello, over an alleged N20 billion salary bailout funds said to be in fixed deposit at a commercial bank.

The commissioner described as false and malicious the claims by the anti-graft agency that the governor did not disburse the said bailout funds released by the Federal Government in 2019 for payment of salary arrears owed civil servants in the state.

Rather, he informed reporters at the briefing that the state government disbursed the said funds since October 2019.

A file photo of the EFCC logo.

 

Fanwo’s briefing comes two days after the Lagos Division of the Federal High Court issued an order freezing the Kogi State Salary Bailout Account domiciled in Sterling Bank over a N20 billion loan obtained from the bank.

The presiding judge, Justice Tijjani Ringim, held that the order would subsist pending the conclusion of an investigation or possible prosecution by the EFCC.

In its argument, the anti-graft agency had explained that the loan was meant to augment the payment of salary and running cost of the state.

It alleged that the state government, however, kept the money in an interest-yielding account with Sterling Bank.

The EFCC also claimed that as of April 1, 2021, the balance standing to the credit of the said fixed deposit account was N19,333,333,333.36.

It added that it was still in the process of tracing what the sum of N666,666,666.64 – a shortfall of the said sum – was used for.

Court Orders Interim Forfeiture Of ₦5.3bn Linked To Firm In Kwara

 

 

A Federal High Court in Lagos has ordered the interim forfeiture of the sum of ₦5,318,517,789 warehoused in a new generation bank.

Justice Tijjani Ringim made the order on Wednesday following an ex parte motion filed and argued by counsel to the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), Rotimi Oyedepo.

Oyedepo linked the sum to a firm, Kaiser Strategic Services Ltd, located at 9, Orioko Ilorin Kwara State.

He added that it was reasonably suspected to be proceeds of unlawful activity as the firm has no known business endeavor.

He told the court that the money was deposited in three bank accounts in tranches of ₦1,407,182,797.00, ₦2,275,525,493.17 and ₦1,635,809,499.31.

The lawyer asked the judge to forfeit the sum to the Federal Government for 14 days in the interim and subsequently, permanently.

To this end, he applied for an order of court “directing the publication in any national newspaper the interim order…to enable any interested party in the sum sought to be forfeited to appear before the court to show cause within 14 days why the final order of forfeiture of the funds should not be made in favour of the Federal Government of Nigeria”.

Oyedepo backed his application with a four-page affidavit sworn to by an EFCC investigator, Adamu Usman Yusuf.

Justice Ringim in a bench ruling granted the application.

He then adjourned till September 29, for a report of compliance.

According to the affidavit, Kaiser Strategic Services Ltd was incorporated on November 18, 2010, with a registered address at No. 9. Orioko Ilorin, Kwara State.

Yusuf said: “That there is no business endeavour in the said address. That the Company is not carrying out any legitimate business but rather was primarily procured to retain proceeds of unlawful activities.

“Upon incorporation of the Kaiser Strategic Services Ltd, a corporate account was opened. The account started witnessing huge cash deposits which are not proceeds of a legitimate business but rather represent funds reasonably suspected to be proceeds of unlawful activities.

“We invited the Managing Director of Kaiser Strategic Services Ltd vide a letter dated 3rd August 2021 which letter was acknowledged by one A. Muhamed.

“Till date, we have not received any objection or opposition from Kaiser Strategic Services Ltd to the Commission’s decision proceeding against the funds sought to be forfeited to the Federal Government of Nigeria, same having been reasonably suspected to be proceeds of unlawful activities.”

Maina To Remain In Custody As Court Rejects Fresh Bail Application

A file photo of Mr Abdulrasheed Maina

 

A Federal High Court in Abuja has refused to hear a fresh bail application filed by the former Chairman of the defunct Pension Reform Task Team, Abdulrasheed Maina.

The judge, Justice Ahmed Mohammed declined to hear the bail application filed by Maina’s lawyer, David Iorhemba, on the ground that it was contentious.

He ruled that the matter could not be heard during the court’s vacation and consequently returned the case to Justice Okon Abang who has been the trial judge in the substantive case, for hearing on the application when the court resumes from vacation.

Earlier in his argument, counsel to the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, Andrew Ocholi had opposed the application filed by Maina, saying he had filed a counter-affidavit and a preliminary objection to show that the applicant was no longer entitled to bail.

Maina is standing trial alongside his firm, Common Input Property and Investment Limited over a 12-count charge bordering on money laundering of over one billion naira, among other offences.

READ ALSO: Olawunmi Honours DIA’s Invitation, Storms Agency With Falana

The ex-pension boss was first arraigned on October 25, 2019, after which Justice Abang ordered that he be remanded in the Correctional Centre at Kuje, pending a hearing of his bail application.

He was subsequently released from the correctional centre in July after perfecting his bail conditions.

However, his bail was revoked on November 18, 2020 on the grounds that he jumped bail and was rearrested.

Upon his rearrest, he returned to court where the court ordered that he be returned to the custody of the correctional centre in Kuje until his trial was concluded.

With the development, his lawyer, Francis Oronsaye, withdrew from the case while his new lawyer, Anayo Adibe, filed another bail application.

However, in a ruling on February 28, Justice Abang refused to grant the application on the grounds that it was without merit and that Maina failed to place sufficient materials before the court to convince it that he deserved another bail.

He held that Maina did not deserve to be admitted to bail again after violating the conditions of the bail granted him earlier and later adjourned the matter until October 4 when the court would resume from its vacation.

Court Freezes Abidemi Rufai’s Bank Accounts, Seizes Lekki Home

Abidemi Rufai, the Senior Special Assistant to Ogun State Governor, Dapo Abiodun

 

A Federal High Court sitting in Lagos has ordered the interim forfeiture of some funds and properties traced to Mr Abidemi Ganiyu Rufai, the suspended aide of the Ogun State Governor, Dapo Abiodun who is facing wire fraud charges in the United States.

The order covers Rufai’s property located at House 11, Omodayo Awotuga Street, Bera Estate, Chevy View, Lekki, Lagos, and funds in his accounts domiciled in Sterling and Zenith banks.

Justice Tijjani Ringim made the order following an ex parte motion filed and argued by a counsel to the Economic and Financial Crimes (EFCC), Ebuka Okongwu.

The EFCC joined Rufai, his firm Omo Mayodele Global Investment and Sterling Bank Plc as the 1st, 2nd and third respondents in the suit.

Okongwu told the judge that it was essential for the court to grant the prayer of interim forfeiture to preserve the res and prevent further dissipation of the defendants’ funds in his Sterling Bank account.

He furnished the judge with an affidavit sworn to by an EFCC investigator, Usman Abdulhamid, detailing the agency’s investigation of Rufai in collaboration with the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI).

READ ALSO: Court Freezes Kogi Salary Account Over ₦20bn Bail-Out Loan

The investigator stated that Rufai had already dissipated a suspicious ₦29.37million in tranches of ₦5,000,000, ₦5,000,000, ₦2,730,000, ₦1,100,000, ₦2,040,000, ₦2,000,000, ₦2,000,000 and ₦5,000,000.

The funds were warehoused in his accounts in three banks.

Rufai was arrested by the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) at the John F. Kennedy (JFK) Airport in New York on May 14 over alleged $350,000 COVID-19 unemployment fraud from Washington State Employment Security Department, in the United States.

He was indicted for alleged conspiracy, wire fraud and aggravated identity theft.

Justice Ringim in a bench ruling granted the EFCC’s order as prayed in the motion paper.

“I am satisfied by the averment in the affidavit deposed to by Usman Abdulhamid and the legal submission of the counsel that this application should succeed and same is accordingly granted as prayed,” he held.

The judge also ordered the EFCC to publish the order within 14 days from Tuesday for any interested party to show cause why the funds and properties should not be permanently forfeited to the Federal Government of Nigeria.

He adjourned further proceedings till December 1, 2021.

According to the affidavit, the EFCC investigated Rufai’s sources of income and bank accounts.

It found that on March 19, 2020, there was an inflow of ₦4,500,000, which was further dissipated the same day in five tranches of N1,000,000 (in four places) and N500,000 into the Rufai’s Guaranty Trust Bank (GTBank) Account.

It said the transaction recurred in the 1st Respondent’s account domiciled with the 3rd Respondent.

Subsequent transactions included but not limited to “transactions of the sum of ₦5,000,000 on the 27th March 2020, ₦5,000,000 on 3rd April 2020; ₦2,730,000 on the 7th April 2020; ₦1,100,000; ₦2,040,000 on the 14th April 2020; ₦2,000,000 on the 27th April 2020; ₦2,000,000 on the 28th April 2020; ₦5,000,000 on the 13th May 2020, and numerous other transactions, which were all dissipated to his GTB Account on the same day of the inflow.

“Further analysis revealed that prior to the first inflow on the 19th March 2020, the 1st Respondents account rarely receives such traffic and huge inflows.

“Upon proactive investigative method of asset tracking and recovery conducted by the Commission, it was revealed that the 1st Respondent owns a property located at HOUSE 11. OMODAYO AWOTUGA STREET, BERA ESTATE, CHEVY VIEW, LEKKI, LAGOS, NIGERIA,” it said.

The EFCC added that it wrote various letters of investigation activities to various financial institutions, agencies and related regulatory bodies, some of the responses of which are still waiting.

Lebanese Accused Of $7.06m Fraud Seeks Foreign Medical Trip

File photo

 

A Lebanese suspect accused of cyber fraud and money laundering, Hamza Koudeih, on Tuesday asked a Federal High Court sitting in Lagos to allow him return to his country for medical check-up.

But the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) opposed his application on the ground that he was a flight risk.

Koudeih and his Nigerian co-defendant, Kayode Philip, popularly known as ‘Voice of the King’ are standing trial before Justice Muslim Hassan on a charge of engaging in cyber fraud and laundering the sums of $7.06 million, £1 million, and €80,000.

In previous documents put before the court, the EFCC had alleged that Koudeih is an associate of internet celebrity, Ismaila Mustapha, popularly known as Mompha, whom the anti-graft agency is prosecuting for an alleged N32.9 billion fraud.

READ ALSO: Bandits Kill 8, Abduct 25 In Zamfara Community

Koudeih who is a resident in the Eko Atlantic area of Lagos approached vacation judge, Justice Ringim Tijjani, via an application filed on July 18 and argued by his counsel Abdulhamid Mohammed.

He sought permission to see his psychiatrist in the Lebanese capital, Beirut and asked the judge to release his international passport to enable him process his trip.

“Before my arraignment before this Honourable Court, I have been under periodic medical treatment for generalised anxiety disorder and major depressive disorder by my doctor in Lebanon, Dr Georges Elie Karam (MD), a Psychiatry and Clinical Psychology Medical Doctor in St. George Hospital University Medical Centre, Beirut, Lebanon,” Koudeih said.

He explained that following his arraignment and trial in Nigeria, he had been seeing Nigerian physicians, including Dr. B. Fadipe who “recommended certain medications to subside the symptoms of my health challenge, although the treatment did not yield any positive result.

“As a result of my medical condition, I usually become anxious, depressed, suffer from insomnia, emotional distress, unwanted thoughts, excessive vigilance and constant fear, shortness of breath, palpitation, and other symptoms ascribable to the medical challenge.”

The suspect said Dr Karam advised that he required further investigations of his medical condition and treatment in Lebanon, necessitating that he travels abroad.

He added that he had a Nigerian wife and son, who are both living in Lagos, but the EFCC counsel, Rotimi Oyedepo, opposed the application.

“We are vehemently opposing this application,” Oyedepo told to court. “This is a ploy to run away from the trial pending before this court.

“Going by the exhibits annexed by the applicant, how can a (Nigerian) doctor who has treated the applicant for 14 years now suddenly say that he can no longer be doing so? There are hospitals in Lagos that the applicant has been using.”

“This defendant is a citizen of Lebanon; what if he is granted permission to go and he doesn’t return?” the lawyer queried.

Oyedepo referenced a counter affidavit sworn to by an EFCC investigator, Idi Musa, in support of his opposition.

According to him, the claims of the applicant are not verifiable, and the attached exhibit is a ploy to pull a wool over the judicial eye of the court to grant the applicant’s prayers.

The EFCC lawyer stressed that it would be in the interest of justice to refuse the applicant’s application, insisting that the proof of evidence before the court clearly linked the applicant to the alleged offence.

“On the whole, I urge my lord to refuse this application.”

After listening to both parties in the case, Justice Ringim adjourned the ruling on the matter until September 9.

EFCC Releases Former Abia State Governor Theodore Orji

A file photo of former Abia State Governor, Theodore Orji.
A file photo of former Abia State Governor, Theodore Orji.

 

The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) has released former Abia State Governor, Senator Theodore Orji.

The Senator was reportedly on his way to London when he was picked up by EFCC operatives at the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport on Thursday.

According to the EFCC, Orji is being interrogated over corrupt financial dealing while serving as Governor between 2007 and 2015.

READ ALSO: EFCC Arrests Former Abia State Governor Theodore Orji

The EFCC added that sometime last year, Senator Orji had approached the agency and requested for the release of his travel documents to enable him go to Dubai for medical treatment.

However, the EFCC noted, the serving Senator failed to return the travel document.

The EFCC said it has asked Orji to report at the EFCC headquarters again on Friday for the continuation of his interrogation.

Meanwhile, the lawmaker, currently representing Abia Central Senatorial District at the Senate, has denied being detained.

He claimed that the EFCC officials only accosted him as he was on his way to London for a routine medical check up in London.

EFCC Arrests Former Abia State Governor Theodore Orji

A file photo of former Abia State Governor, Theodore Orji.
A file photo of former Abia State Governor, Theodore Orji.

 

A former governor of Abia State, Senator Theodore Orji was arrested on Thursday by operatives of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).

The former governor’s arrest was confirmed by EFCC spokesperson, Wilson Uwujaren.

He is currently a lawmaker representing Abia Central Senatorial District at the Senate.

READ ALSO: EFCC Quizzes Saraki Over Alleged Corruption

Orji, who has been on the Commission’s watch list, was intercepted at the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport, Abuja at about 10am on Thursday and brought to the headquarters of the EFCC at Jabi, Abuja for continuation of his interrogation.

He is being quizzed alongside his son, Chinedu, the current Speaker of the Abia State House of Assembly, who turned himself in this afternoon upon learning of his father’s arrest.

Senator Orji and his sons, Chinedu and Ogbonna, are under investigation by the EFCC for offences bordering on misappropriation of public funds and money laundering.

The ex- governor is alleged to have collected N500million monthly as security vote for eight years as governor of Abia State between 2007 and 2015.

Other issues relate to the alleged mismanagement of N2billion Ecological Fund and conversion of Sure-P funds.

Court Declines Okorocha’s Application To Stop Confiscation Of His Properties

Former Imo State Governor, Rochas Okorocha (File Photo)

 

A Federal High Court in Abuja on Wednesday declined an application by former Imo State Governor Rochas Okorocha asking it to restrain the Imo State Government and the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) from confiscating his properties.

Okorocha who is entangled in corruption allegations by the Imo State Government had sought an interim order from the court while it was on vacation.

At the hearing on Wednesday, counsel to Senator Okorocha, Mr Oba Maduabuchi (SAN), told the court presided over by Justice Ahmed Mohammed that the properties of his client were being marked for confiscation and demolition.

He prayed the court to issue an interim order to the EFCC and the Imo State Government not to carry on with their action.

The application, however, could not go through following a motion by the counsels to the Imo government and the EFCC challenging the jurisdiction of the court to sit on the matter during the vacation period.

In their separate submissions, they described the application by Okorocha as an abuse of judicial processes and cannot subsist in view of the motion filed already challenging the jurisdiction of the court to hear the matter during the vacation period of the court.

They argued that once an issue of jurisdiction is raised in any suit, it must be determined and resolved first before the court can take further steps.

Counsel to the 3rd to 17th defendants, Livy Uzuokwu (SAN) also challenged the application by Senator Okorocha.

According to him, he had filed a notice of preliminary objection challenging the jurisdiction of the judge to have the matter fixed during the vacation, because the plaintiff did not comply with the mandatory provisions of Order 46 Rule 5 of the Federal High Court Civil Procedure Rules, 2019, which mandates the plaintiff to obtain a fiat from the chief judge for the matter to be heard during vacation.

In his judgment, Justice Ahmed Mohammed refused to grant Okorocha’s application on the ground that he would first have to hear the motion challenging his jurisdiction to sit on the matter during vacation.

He adjourned the matter to August 24.

 

The Federal High Court in Abuja where former governor Rochas Okorocha’s application was declined.

 

A State High Court in Owerri had earlier (on Monday) ordered the final and absolute forfeiture of Royal Palm Springs Hotel and other properties said to belong to Senator Okorocha and other members of his family.

According to a ruling by Justice Fred Njemanze, who was sitting as a vacation judge, Okorocha’s counsel failed to give concrete and verifiable reasons why a final and absolute forfeiture order should not be given in favour of the Imo state government.

Justice Njemanze added that the suit filed against the state government by Okorocha’s counsel was not properly filed.

He also described it as a ‘surplusage’, a term in law which means a statement completely irrelevant to a matter.

As for persons who might have made purchases on such properties, Justice Njamanze said they are at liberty to approach the court to prove their titles.

UPDATED: Seven PDP National Officers Resign, Blame Secondus

 

Seven national officers of the Peoples Democratic Party have resigned from their roles in the party.

The party chieftains in different letters addressed to its National Secretary on Tuesday alleged being sidelined and unfairly treated by the National Chairman, Uche Secondus.

Some of the executive members include the National Deputy Publicity Secretary, Diran Odeyemi; Deputy National Organising Secretary, Hassan Yakubu; and the Deputy National Woman Leader, Hadizat Umoru.

This latest event fuels the crisis rocking the leadership of the party after a former spokesperson of the party’s presidential Campaign, Kasim Afegbua, accused the chairman and the leadership of series of offences.

Afegbua had called on the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) and the Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission (ICPC) in April, to probe the party’s leadership.

He visited the offices of the anti-corruption agencies to submit his petition and asked them to look into the financial transactions of Mr Secondus, in the spirit of transparency, accountability, and book-keeping, in line with the existing anti-corruption laws.

He also alleged that much of the financial transactions of the PDP under its present leadership have been shrouded in mystery and accused the leadership of a deliberate attempt to short-change the party in the build-up to the 2023 general elections.

In the petition, he asked the anti-graft agencies to scrutinise close to N10 billion that was allegedly accrued to the party’s purse from 2017 till date, especially those that were as a result of sales of nomination forms for presidential, governorship, House of Assembly, and senatorial elections.

Afegbua alleged that the national chairman avoided the use of the party’s bank accounts and used one Morufu Nigeria Limited as a conduit pipe for financial mismanagement in the sales of forms in 2019.

He, therefore, stressed the need for the party’s leadership to lead by example by ensuring transparency and accountability.

EFCC Quizzes Saraki Over Alleged Corruption

A file photo of former Senate President, Dr Bukola Saraki.

 

The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) on Saturday questioned former Senate President Bukola Saraki over alleged misappropriation of public funds and money laundering.

According to sources who confirmed the news to Channels Television, Saraki arrived the EFCC office around 2pm.

According to sources, Mr Saraki is alleged to have hired suspected proxies, who executed contracts for Kwara State under his administration and allegedly made returns to him for many years.

The funds involved are said to run into hundreds of millions in naira and hundreds of thousands in foreign currencies.

Saraki, 58, was Senate President between 2015 and 2019.

He also sat for two terms as Governor of Kwara State from 2003 to 2011.

As Senate President, Mr Saraki spent a considerable time facing charges of corruption and false declaration of assets, although he was eventually acquitted by the Supreme Court in June 2018.

‘Not arrested’

Spokesmperson to the former Senate President, Yusuph Olaniyonu later confirmed that Saraki left the EFCC office on Saturday.

In a statement obtained by Channels Television, Olaniyonu stressed that Saraki had not been arrested but “on his own volition visited the office of the EFCC to clarify any issue that the commission may want to raise with him.”

Olaniyonu said the ex-Senate President also assured EFCC operatives that he has nothing to hide.

“It will be recalled that following the order of the Federal High Court, Abuja, on the Fundamental Human Rights case filed by Dr. Saraki during the period of the former chairman of the EFCC which precluded the commission from investigating him until the matter is dispensed with, the commission at the last hearing on July 14, 2021, pleaded with the judge that the order was preventing them from doing their job,” the statement said.

“Following this complaint, Dr. Saraki, as a responsible citizen, on his own volition approached the commission that at the earliest convenient date, he was willing to visit the commission’s office and clarify all issues they might want to raise with him.

“He, therefore, visited the commission’s office this afternoon and answered some questions. He is back home. He was not arrested. Dr. Saraki also assured the commission that he has nothing to hide and will always make himself available to clear all issues that may require his attention”