Court Orders Ex-Naval Chief, Ezeoba To Forfeit N 1.83bn To FG

Justice Muslim Hassan of the Federal High Court, Lagos has ordered the temporary forfeiture of a sum of N1.825bn found in the bank accounts of one Acquila Leasing Limited.

 The judge's order was as a result of an ex parte application, filed before the court on Wednesday by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC),  in pursuant to Section 17 of the Advance Fee Fraud and Other Related Offences Act No. 14, 2006 and Section 44(2)(k) of the 1999 Constitution.

 EFCC urged the judge to urgently grant the forfeiture order in the interest of justice.
 The commission claimed that the N1.825 was part of a total of N2.387bn allegedly diverted from the coffers of the Nigerian Navy by a former Chief of Naval Staff, Admiral Dele Ezeoba (retd.), who headed the navy between 2012 and 2014.

 The application was moved by  EFCC prosecutor, Mr. Rotimi Oyedepo.
 The judge while granting  the order and gave 14 days for Chwuka Onwuchekwa and Acquila Leasing Limited and any other party interested in the money to appear before him to give reasons why the fund should not be permanently forfeited to the Federal Government.

 Justice Hassan adjourned till March 29, 2017 for all the interested parties to appear before him.
 Listed as the first and second respondents on the motion ex parte were Onwuchekwa and Acquila.

 In an affidavit of urgency filed in support of the application, an operative of the EFCC, Adamu Usman, said Ezeoba was probed following an intelligence report, which, he said, the anti-grant agency analysed and found to be worthy of investigation.

 He said the information obtained from Ezeoba on June 21, 2016 by the EFCC revealed that the N1.825bn was proceeds of crime “fraudulently diverted from the Nigerian Navy under the leadership of Ezeoba.”
 “That Mr. Dele Joseph Ezeoba used the name of the first respondent (Acquila) to open the fraudulent account in disguise while he was the one who truly laundered the money.

 “That in a desperate bid to further disguise and conceal the illicit source of the said funds, Mr. Dele Joseph Ezeoba entered into a Memorandum of Understanding to buy shares of Acquila Leasing Limited from the first respondent (Onwuchekwa), who is the Managing Director of the second respondent.

 “That the said shares of Acquila Leasing Limited was worth N2.378,000,000.
 “That out of the N2.378bn, the sum of N1.825bn only has been recovered in drafts in favour of the Federal Government of Nigeria,” Usman averred.

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