May 23, 2024

N8.5bn fraud: Court orders final forfeiture of Ex-JTF Commander

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Glory Ebomah

Justice Chukujekwu Aneke of the Federal High Court sitting in Ikoyi, Lagos, on Friday, May 5, 2023, ordered the final forfeiture of eight properties, seven in Abuja and one in Bayelsa State, as well as 30, 000 MTN shares (MTN Link Units) linked to Maj. Gen. Emmanuel Atewe ( rtd.), a former Commander of the Military Joint Task Force, Operation Pulo Shield, in the Niger Delta.

The landed properties are: 50 hectares of farmland at Plot No. FL746B Gaube Farmland Extension II Layout, Kuje, Abuja; a piece of land located at Commercial Layout, Yenagoa Gardens, Bayelsa State; one hectre of land in Kuje District, Abuja; Plot No. CP10, Sector Centre B Layout, Kuje, Abuja; Plot MF62 Outer Northern Expressway Cadastral Zone, Abuja; Plot No. 1228 Jahi, Abuja; four hectares of land designated as Plot No.CP6386 and Plot No.CP6387, Sabon Lugbe, Abuja.

The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, had, on March 26, 2020, secured the interim forfeiture of the sum of N290, 000,000( Two Hundred and Ninety Million) reasonably suspected to be proceeds of an unlawful activity, the landed properties and 30,000 MTN shares , following an ex parte application filed before Justice Muhammad Liman, who has since been transferred to the Kano Division of the Federal High Court.

The assets are part of proceeds of N8.5billion for the military Operation Pulo Shield in the Niger Delta, which he was accused of diverting from the military between September 5, 2014 and May 20, 2015.

Atewe is being prosecuted by the EFCC alongside Patrick Akpobolokemi, a former Director-General of Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency, NIMASA, Kime Enzogu and Josephine Otuaga on a 22-count charge of conspiracy, stealing and money laundering.

Moving the application for the final forfeiture of the properties, the EFCC counsel, Rotimi Oyedepo, SAN, had argued that it would be in the interest of justice for the court to grant the 11 prayers being sought and also order the final forfeiture of same to the Federal Government.

Ruling on the application today, Justice Aneke granted the EFCC’s prayers and also ordered the final forfeiture of the properties to the Federal Government.

The Judge, however, refused the EFCC’s prayer seeking the final forfeiture of the sum of N290m.

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