Home News ICPC seizes 97 property, freezes 1,233 bank accounts; N217m, $311,872 forfeited to FG

ICPC seizes 97 property, freezes 1,233 bank accounts; N217m, $311,872 forfeited to FG

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The Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission (ICPC) has seized at least 97 property from different individuals in the past four years.

These included 33 buildings, plots of land and a factory forfeited to the Federal Government by a former accountant with the Joint Admission and Matriculation Board (JAMB), Dr Jimoh Olatunde.

The anti-graft agency disclosed these to Sunday PUNCH in response to a Freedom of Information request.

Olatunde is the prosecution witness in a case of official corruption and abuse of office brought against a former registrar of JAMB, Prof. Dibu Ojerinde.

Olatunde was believed to have acted as proxy for Ojerinde.

In an 18-count, the ICPC accused Ojerinde of diverting public funds estimated at about N5.2 billon while he was the head of the National Examination Council (NECO) and later JAMB.

Olatunde, who was also the Deputy Director and Head of Treasury at NECO, revealed how Ojerinde allegedly diverted N341.9 million from the examination body to set up a personal printing press, school and buildings.

The witness, who testified before the High Court of Niger State, Minna, told the trial judge, Justice Abdullahi Mikailu, that N216,297,443 was deceitfully withdrawn from NECO account for payment for 17 fictitious printing contracts, which were used for establishing the printing press.

Also, no fewer than 1,233 bank accounts have been frozen by the anti-graft commission between 2019 and now.

However, 60 of the accounts belonging to 15 persons, who were investigated for corruption, have been finally forfeited to the Federal Government.

The accounts contained N547.7 million and $669,248.89 in total.

A former governor of Zamfara State, Alhaji Abdulazeez Yari lost $669,248.89 and N24,289,910.89 to the Federal Government.

The money was lodged in Yari’s two personal accounts and the accounts operated by his companies, BT Oil and Gas Nigeria Limited and Kayatawa Nigeria Limited.

Also forfeited to the government were N217,388,040 and $311,872 found in a bank account belonging to BT Oil and Gas Nigeria Limited; and another N11,159,674.80 and $301,319.99 kept in an account belonging to Kayatawa Nigeria Limited.

The ICPC also placed under interim forfeiture 29 duplexes in different estates in Jabi, Maitama, Kaduna, Zamfara and Abuja allegedly belonging to the ex-governor, who is currently on trial for corruption.

The ICPC had accused Yari of not being truthful in his assets declaration.

It accused him of diverting Zamfara State’s funds, using some companies, including Kayatawa Nigeria Limited and B T Oil and Gas Nigeria Limited.

It alleged that on 18th June 2015, BT Oil and Gas Nigeria Limited received a transfer of N150m from the Nigeria Governors’ Forum through Yari, who was then the chairman of the forum.

Justice Taiwo Taiwo of the Federal High Court, Abuja subsequently granted a motion by the ICPC seeking permanent forfeiture of the funds.

It could not be ascertained if Yari had appealed the forfeiture order as his lawyer, Mahmoud Magaji,a Senior Advocate of Nigeria, could not be reached for comments.  He did not respond to calls and he had yet to reply to an SMS sent to his mobile telephone.

The ICPC stated that its motivation for seeking the orders was because “the victim of the alleged crime is the Zamfara State Government and by extension the Federal Government of Nigeria and innocent taxpayers, which include judges of courts across Nigeria”.

Other individuals whose property were also forfeited included a Ministry of Niger Delta worker, Daniel Obah, who had plots of land in different parts of Abuja and Rivers State; an officer of the Nigeria Security and Civil, Edike Akpan; Joseph Udoh, a retired Federal High Court official; and Adedeji Taofi, who forfeited a school.

A businessman, Lukumanu Waziri, similarly lost an unregistered Pontiac car, Peugeot 406, Range Rover Evoque and an unregistered Lexus, as well as bungalow, land, shoe and other personal items to the government.

One Adenike Bintu forfeited two plots of land along Airport Road, Abuja, while Okroghene Akpore lost parcels of land and a duplex.

Kabiru Poloma equally forfeited several plots of land in Gombe State, a multipurpose complex and two hotels – Donkay Hotel and Suites and Snamai Suites.

Also on the list is Adam Yusuf, who forfeited residential buildings in Idu, Abuja, while one Babangida Aliyu also lost a Mercedes Benz car to the government.

In the accompanying letter to the FoI request dated 27th September 2022 and signed by the Director, Legal Services, Henry Emore, the ICPC stated: “Funds in the 60 accounts operated by different banks have been finally forfeited to the Federal Government of Nigeria and the funds transferred to the ICPC Recovery Account domiciled in the Central Bank of Nigeria for onward transmission to the Consolidated Revenue Fund since the victim in these cases is the Federal Government”.

Commenting on the development, the Executive Director, Civil Society Legislative Advocacy Centre, Auwal Rafsanjani, said the seizures proved that corruption was still alive in Nigeria.

“This further proves that there is still corruption in Nigeria as against what politicians say. They always dismiss the fact that there is still corruption in Nigeria. The ICPC has only exposed the nitty gritty of what is going on in the country”, Rafsanjani stated.

He, however, commended the anti-graft agencies for their continued fight against corruption, noting that “the ICPC is doing a great job in fighting corruption without political antics and we must commend what they are doing. They are one of the agencies doing their job quietly and we enjoin other security agencies to do the same. They do the work and we are seeing the results”.

But a legal practitioner, Nanfwang Ayuba said that fighting corruption must be supported by ordinary Nigerians, noting that nobody should be seen to be above the law.

Ayuba said: “If we are able to show that nobody is above the law and everybody is equal before the law, then we can say we are winning the war against corruption. However, if there is a perception that the fight is selective or cosmetic, then we are not going to win the war. Corruption should be fought holistically.

“Justice must not only be done, but must be seen to be manifestly done. Until we get there, I will say that the ICPC and other anti-corruption agencies are just making attempts in fighting corruption”.

Another legal practitioner, Sani Rabiu, however, said the anti-corruption agencies were carrying out selective justice, which should be improved upon.

Calling for improvement in anti-corruption strategies, he said, “We need a lot of improvement in the fight against corruption because it appears that the agencies that are charged with such responsibilities are not carrying out their jobs as expected.

“Ordinarily, if there is an allegation of corruption against any Nigerian regardless of that person’s political party or location, they should be investigated fairly and justly”.

Source: Sunday PUNCH

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