Court orders another final forfeiture of $1.4million bribe received by Emefiele

The Federal High Court in Lagos State has ordered the final forfeiture of the sum of $1,426,175.14 kickback linked to Godwin Emefiele, the immediate past Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria.

The ruling, issued on Tuesday by Justice Ayokunle Faji, ordered the final forfeiture of the funds to the Nigerian government.

The final forfeiture order was issued following a Tuesday application by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission.

EFCC, on May 29, 2014, had previously obtained an interim order for the temporary forfeiture of the money.

The judge mandated that the court order be published in newspapers to notify anyone interested in the funds, allowing them to appear in court and provide reasons why the funds should not be permanently forfeited.

At the hearing on Tuesday, EFCC counsel Mrs Bilkisu Buhari-Bala stated that the commission had complied with the publication order, and no one had come forward to claim the money.

According to her, the funds were proceeds of unlawful activities by Emefiele.

Meanwhile, Buhari-Bala said the investigation by the EFCC revealed that the ex-CBN governor received the dollars as kick-backs for approving forex allocation to multinational firms during the forex crisis in the country.

Buhari-Bala said the court was empowered by Section 17 of the Advance Fee Fraud and Other Fraud-related Offences Act to make the forfeiture order.

The $1.4 million forfeiture on Tuesday follows closely after the court’s earlier ruling to permanently forfeit properties worth at N12.18billion from Emefiele just days before.

Justice C.J. Aneke granted the forfeiture order.

In an affidavit filed in support of the Tuesday forfeiture application, an EFCC investigator, David Jayeoba, said the anti-graft agency uncovered the money through credible and direct intelligence.

“Part of the said funds, which represent the proceeds of Godwin Emefiele and his cronies’ unlawful activities, are retained in the accounts now sought to be forfeited.

“Uzeobo Anthony and Adebanjo Olurotimi were procured by Godwin Emefiele and used to conceal, retain and disguise funds reasonably suspected to be proceeds of unlawful activities.

“Between 2021 and 2022, when accessibility to forex in Nigeria was difficult, several international entities operating in Nigeria had to resort to different means to source forex.

“Both Uzeobo Anthony and Adebanjo Olurotimi used to collect bribes and gratification on behalf of Godwin Emefiele to get approval for accessing forex.

“One of the entities paid a total sum of $26,552,000.00 into the account domiciled in Titan Trust account number 2000000500.

“The said credits came into the account on the 9th of November 2021: $6,450,000; 15th of November 2021: $6,050,000.00; 16th of December 2021: $5,400,000.00; 23rd of December 2021: $652,000, 31th January 2022: $3,000,000.00 and on the 21st September 2022: $5,000,000.00.

“The investigation traced the funds to having been fixed into interest-yielding accounts, dissipated and laundered through a foreign account in Mauritius, and transported back to Nigeria under disguise.

“Of the total sum of $26, 555, 000.00 received by Donatus Limited, the balance standing in the said account as of today is $1,426, 175. 14.

“It is the balance in the account that the applicant seeks to forfeit to the Federal Government of Nigeria, which has been traced to be the proceeds of unlawful activities of Godwin Emefiele and his cronies.”