The Economic and Finacial Crimes Commission (EFCC) has secured an interim forfeiture of the assets of a former acting Director-General, Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA), Calistus Obi.
Justice Saliu Saidu of the Federal High Court sitting in Ikoyi, Lagos, on Monday, October 7, 2019, gave the order. The judge ordered the temporary forfeiture of four bank drafts totalling N37.5m and a hotel, La Diva belonging to Obi.
Justice Saidu gave the order, following an ex parte application filed by the EFCC through its counsel, Rotimi Oyedepo.
The hotel is located at Block V, Phase V and Plotc11, Core Area, Asaba, Delta State. It comprises 22 rooms, a lobby bar, a restaurant, a kitchen, a swimming pool and a 350-seater hall. Also, it houses a gymnasium and a parking lot sitting on a 3000-metre square of land.
Counsel to EFCC, Oyedepo, told the court that the money used to purchase the property was fraudulently converted by the respondent from the account of NIMASA.
Property, funds suspected to be proceeds of unlawful activities, says EFCC
The EFCC also stated that the respondent used the funds he received from the Agency’s Committee on Intelligence Gathering and Technical Committee on Ratification to purchase the hotel. This was stated in in an affidavit in support of the application.
Further, the EFCC told the court that the respondent had raised the drafts. One was a Zenith Bank Plc draft and three Diamond Bank Plc drafts in the name of the EFCC. This was to pay back part of the money he fraudulently acquired from the NIMASA account. The Commission added that this occurred while undergoing prosecution for money laundering for which he was eventually convicted in May.
Therefore, it urged the court to grant the prayers of the anti-graft agency on the grounds that the property and funds “are reasonably suspected to be acquired with the proceeds of some unlawful activities.”
Justice Saidu, after listening to the prayers of the applicant, ordered the interim forfeiture of the funds and property.
Also, the judge directed the publication of the interim forfeiture order in any national newspaper. This is for the respondent or any party who is interested in the property to appear before the court and show cause within fourteen (14) days why the final order of forfeiture of the said property should not be made in favour of the Federal Government
Justice Saidu adjourned the case to November 4, 2019 for further hearing.