EFCC seeks permanent forfeiture of funds, property linked to Perm Sec
By Lukman Olabiyi
The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) has filed an application before the Federal High Court in Lagos seeking for permanent forfeiture of the sums of N664,475,246.6, $137,680.11 and a property it recovered from the Permanent Secretary in the Federal Ministry of Labour and Productivity, Dr Clement Illoh Onubuogo, to the Federal Government.
The commission had on August 17, secured an order of temporary forfeiture of the money, a property described as “Clement Illoh’s Mansion” located at Ikom Quarters, Issala-Azegba in Delta State and a hotel at No. 19, Madue Nwafor Street, off Achala Ibuzo Road, Asaba, Delta State, to the Federal Government.
In making the order, Justice Abdul-Azeez Anka, directed the EFCC to notify the permanent secretary, in whose possession the property were found, to appear before the court and show cause within two weeks why they should not be permanently forfeited to the Federal Government.
The judge equally ordered the commission to publicize the interim orders in any national daily to allow any interested party appear before him to show cause within two weeks why the order should not be made permanent.
However, at the resumed hearing of the matter before a vacation judge, Justice Chuka Obiozor, on yesteray, EFCC’s lawyer, Rotimi Oyedepo, disclosed that a motion seeking the final forfeiture of the money and property to the Federal Government has been filed.
He further disclosee that the motion brought pursuant to Section 17 (4) of the Advance Fee Fraud and other fraud related offences Act has been served on the permanent secretary, whom he said is yet to file a counter-affidavit.
He had earlier informed the court that as directed by Justice Anka, the EFCC had published the interim order on August 23.
In his response, Clement’s lawyer, Tom Awhana, while acknowledging the receipt of the motion for final forfeiture, said he had already filed a counter-affidavit against it.
The lawyer added that he had equally filed a notice of preliminary objection challenging the court’s jurisdiction to make the interim order.
According to him, it was improper for the commission to come before the Lagos court when all transactions leading to the suit were conducted in Abuja.
Awhana also informed the court of the pendency of another application seeking to discharge the interim order which he claimed was fraudulently obtained by the EFCC.
He claimed that an attempt by a court’s bailiff to serve the processes on the EFCC was unsuccessful as an official of the commission he met at its official refused to accept the court papers.
The matter was consequently adjourned to September 22, to allow for exchange of processes between parties.