A Federal High Court sitting in Lagos on Thursday ordered temporary forfeiture of a sum of N1.825bn found in the bank accounts of a limited liability company, Acquila Leasing Limited.
The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, which obtained the forfeiture order on behalf of the Federal Government alleged 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 (retired), who headed the navy between 2012 and 2014.
An EFCC prosecutor, Mr. Rotimi Oyedepo, filed an ex parte application, 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, before Justice Muslim Hassan to obtain the temporary forfeiture order.
Mr Oyedepo urged the court to urgently grant the forfeiture order in the interest of justice.
Justice Hassan granted the order and gave 14 days for Chwuka Onwuchekwa and his company, 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 of Nigeria
Thereafter Justice Hassan adjourned till March 29, 2017 for any interested parties to appear before him.
Listed as the first and second respondents on the motion ex parte are Onwuchekwa and Acquila Leasing Limited.
In an affidavit of urgency sworn to by 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.”
Mr. Dele Joseph Ezeoba was alleged to have used the name of the first respondent (Acquila leasing Limited) to open the fraudulent account in disguise while he was the one who truly laundered the money.
And in a desperate bid to further disguise and conceal the illicit source of the said funds, Mr. Dele Joseph Ezeoba, according to EFCC, entered into a Memorandum of Understanding to buy shares of Acquila Leasing Limited from Onwuchekwa who is the Managing Director of Acquila Leasing Limited.
“That the said shares of Acquila Leasing Limited was worth N2.378,000,000. 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.