Court Orders Final Forfeiture of $1.4M Linked to Ex-CBN Governor Emefiele

Court Orders Final Forfeiture of $1.4M Linked to Ex-CBN Governor Emefiele

The Federal High Court in Lagos on Tuesday mandated the permanent forfeiture of $1,426,175.14 associated with former Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) Governor, Godwin Emefiele.

Justice Ayokunle Faji issued the order for the funds to be handed over to the Federal Government following a request from the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).

The EFCC had initially obtained an interim forfeiture order on May 29, 2014, temporarily seizing the money.

To allow any interested parties to claim the funds, the judge instructed the publication of the forfeiture order in newspapers. However, according to EFCC counsel Mrs. Bilkisu Buhari-Bala, no claims were made.

Buhari-Bala stated that investigations revealed the funds were proceeds of illicit activities by Emefiele, involving kickbacks for forex allocations to multinational firms amid Nigeria’s forex crisis.

The EFCC lawyer highlighted that Section 17 of the Advance Fee Fraud and Other Fraud-related Offences Act empowers the court to issue such forfeiture orders.

This development follows a similar ruling days earlier by Justice C.J. Aneke, who ordered the forfeiture of properties worth N12.18 billion from Emefiele.

EFCC investigator David Jayeoba, in an affidavit supporting the forfeiture application, noted that the funds were uncovered through credible intelligence. He stated, “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.”

Jayeoba detailed how Emefiele used proxies Uzeobo Anthony and Adebanjo Olurotimi to hide and manage these illicit funds, collected as bribes for forex approvals. The money, traced to an account at Titan Trust Bank, was deposited in multiple transactions between November 2021 and September 2022, amounting to $26,552,000.

The funds were invested in interest-yielding accounts, laundered through a foreign account in Mauritius, and returned to Nigeria under false pretenses. Of the total, $1,426,175.14 remained in the account and was targeted for forfeiture.

Jayeoba’s affidavit concluded, “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.” The EFCC also noted that those responsible for the account were attempting to electronically dissipate the remaining funds.

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