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Court orders final forfeiture of $16k, N127m diverted from NIMASA under Jonathan

Federal High Court Lagos

The federal high court in Lagos has ordered the final forfeiture of the sums of $16,500 and N127 million diverted from the coffers of the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA).

The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) had sought the interim forfeiture of the funds diverted from NIMASA through an ex parte application.

On May 23, 2024, Kehinde Ogundare, the presiding judge, ordered the interim forfeiture of the funds and ordered the EFCC to publish details of the funds in national newspapers, so that interested parties can provide reasons why the funds should not be forfeited to the federal government.

In the affidavit submitted by the EFCC, the agency said the NIMASA funds were diverted through one Uche Obilor, his companies and other cronies.

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“The funds sought to be forfeited are reasonably suspected to be proceeds of unlawful acts of diversion of funds from the treasury of NIMASA, through Mr. Uche Obilor, his companies and other cronies,” the agency said.

“That during the course of investigation, the total sum of $16,500 USD cash, was recovered by the Commission, part of the funds diverted from the treasury of NIMASA.

“And that for using his companies as mentioned above, Mr. Uche Obilor, upon invitation to the Commission during the course of investigation, agreed to return the sum of N118 million, admittedly received and retained by his companies from the funds fraudulently converted from the treasury of NIMASA.”

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At the court sitting on Monday, Suleiman Suleiman, counsel to the anti-graft agency, said EFCC had recovered $16,500 in cash and N118 million from Obilor and his companies.

“Pursuant to your lordship’s order made on May 23, 2024, the publication of the order was made on June 6, 2024 of Punch newspaper,” EFCC counsel said.

“The said application is supported by a 22-paragraph affidavit deposed to by Oghare Ogbole, an investigator with the EFCC.

“We respectfully adopt the same and pray the court to grant all the reliefs sought.”

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There was no interested party at the hearing.

After listening to the EFCC counsel, Ogundare granted the order sought by the anti-graft agency.

The funds were said to have been diverted under Patrick Akpobolokemi, then director-general of NIMASA, who was appointed by former President Goodluck Jonathan.

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