Court orders forfeiture of N397.6m suspected pension fund

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MATTHEW OTOIJAGHA

An Abuja Federal High Court presided over by Justice Ijeoma Ojukwu of a Federal High Court, Abuja, has ordered the interim forfeiture to the Federal Government of the sum of N397.6 million suspected to be pension funds illegally hidden away by pension thieves in two commercial banks.

The two banks hold the huge cash in both local and foreign currencies but the owners have remain unknown despite repeated efforts by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission to unravel them.

The breakdown of the cash is: N357, 206,311.15, $91,955.38 (N33, 411, 987.32) and £15,050 (N7, 040, 841.5). Apparently frustrated by the inability of the two holding banks to name the owners of the cash and make them to come forward and claim the money, the EFCC approached the court and sought the forfeiture of the money to the federal government in line with its mandate.

The judge had on October 26, 2018 issued the order of interim forfeiture for the monies domiciled in the two commercial banks following an ex-parte summons by the EFCC dated October 3, 2018 and filed on October 5, 2018. The EFCC had in the course of investigating a pension fraud case, traced to the monies to the accounts of a firm known as ‘Tahir Yusuf and Bitmas Enterprises’.

In preparation for a final forfeiture, the judge has directed that the EFCC publish the notice of the interim forfeiture order in any national daily newspaper and on the EFCC’s website. Justice Ojukwu held that: “Any such persons or bodies, who may be affected by this order is at liberty within 14 days of the said publication to apply for a Motion on Notice to the Court on such justifiable grounds, to show cause why a final order of forfeiture should not be made.”  The matter has been fixed for November 28, 2018 for “hearing of order show cause”.

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