The Federal High Court in Lagos on Wednesday ordered the temporary forfeiture of the sum of N449,750,000 found in an abandoned Bureau de Change shop in Victoria Island by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission.
The forfeiture order was made by Justice Rilawan Aikawa following an ex parte application taken before him by the anti-graft agency.
An investigator with the EFCC, Moses Awolusi, said in the affidavit filed before the judge that the shop numbered LS64, located on at Legico Shopping Plaza, at Victoria island, Lagos had not been opened for two years.
Awolusi said the money was found on April 7, 2017 in several “Ghana Must Go” sacks, adding that the EFCC recovered the money after investigating intelligence information received on one Mohammed Tauheed.
According to the investigator, Tauheed allegedly conspired with the owner of the abandoned shop to launder the money.
Awolusi said Tauheed had earlier been brought to the EFCC office by the Chairman and Vice-Chairman of Legico shopping Plaza, Mr. Sulaiman Daba and Alhaji Ishaq Ayandiran , respectively.
He said during the visit, Tauheed told the anti-graft agency that he received the money in cash from a serving government official, whose name was not disclosed for security reasons.
He said Tauheed, in the presence of his lawyer, later agreed to return the money to the Federal Government, which is the rightful owner of the funds strongly suspected to the proceeds of criminal activities of the unnamed serving government official.
The EFCC said it would be in the interest of justice for the court to order the temporary forfeiture of the money to the Federal Government.
After entertaining the application on Wednesday, Justice Aikawa ordered that the N449,750,000 should be temporarily forfeited to the Federal Government.
He ordered the EFCC to advertise the order in a national newspaper and gave 14 days for any interested party to appear in court to give reasons why the money should not be permanently forfeited to the Federal Government.
The judge adjourned the matter till May 19, 2017.
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