By Jerry Uwah
A Federal High Court in Lagos has ordered the final forfeiture of the sums of £578,080.00 to the federal government of Nigeria.
The forfeited sum was discovered by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) in the account of a maritime firm, ZAL Marine Limited domiciled in Diamond Bank.
EFCC told Justice Saliu Saidu that a director of the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA) fraudulently paid the money to a Swiss maritime firm under the pretext of training some staff of NIMASA.
Justice Saidu granted the order after entertaining an ex parte application argued by counsel to EFCC, Rotimi Oyedepo.
Oyedepo had claimed that the money sought to be forfeited was reasonably suspected to be proceeds of unlawful activities of the respondent.
He alleged that the sum was stolen by the maritime firm through some employees of NIMASA.
The lawyer also submitted that “an application of this nature is designed to prevent the dissipation of funds/ property that is suspected to be proceeds of crime found in possession of any person without necessarily convicting the suspect in whose custody the property is found.”
In an affidavit attached to the application and disposed to by an investigating officer with the anti-graft agency, Musbahu Yahaya Abubakar, the commission stated that it received intelligence alleging a monumental fraud in NIMASA and that part of the proceeds of the said fraud was transferred to the respondent.
Abubakar also averred that the respondent allegedly conspired with some employees of NIMASA, Macfoy Irene, Chukwu Emeka Emmanuel to defraud the agency.
“That the fund was transferred from NIMASA’s Account without any Parastatal or Ministerial Tender Board approval and/ or contract with NIMASA. That there was no contractual relationship or agreement that existed between NIMASA, Swiss Bulk Carriers S. A. and the Respondent to warrant this fraudulent transfer of the funds sought to be forfeited.
“That before effecting the said fraudulent transfer to Swiss Bulk Carrier S. A., the mandatory value added tax and remittance to the Federal Government of Nigeria was unlawfully evaded,” Abubakar said.
After listening to the lawyer, the judge granted the application, as prayed.