Justice Mojisola Olatoregun of the Federal High Court, Lagos has ordered the final forfeiture of N2.2billion recovered from former Chief of Air Staff, Air Marshal Adesola Amosu.
The judge also ordered the final forfeiture of N190,828,978.15 recovered from a former Nigeria Air Force (NAF) Director of Finance and Budget Air Commodore Olugbenga Gbadebo.
Also forfeited is N101 million recovered from Solomon Enterprises, a company linked to Amosu.
The court made the order based on an application by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).
The judge ordered that the total funds found and recovered by the commission from Amosu and others be paid into the Federal government’s Treasury Single Account (TSA) with Guarantee Trust Bank.
Justice Olatoregun agreed with the EFCC that the money was reasonably suspected to be “proceeds of unlawful activity.”
Justice Olatoregun held that EFCC complied with the orders made last June 7, including that the interim forfeiture should be advertised in the national newspapers so that the respondents or anyone interested could show cause as to why the final order of forfeiture should not be made in favour of the Federal government.
The judge dismissed counter-affidavits by Amosu and Gbadebo, holding that they did not justify the money’s owner.
She also dismissed their argument that they were currently undergoing trial over the same sums sought to be forfeited and that granting the final forfeiture order would foist a fait accompli on the trial court.
Justice Olatoregun said the forfeiture proceedings were an “action in rem” and a non-conviction-based forfeiture.
“The requirements for the two proceedings are different and distinct,” she held.
She emphasised that in forfeiture proceedings, evidential burden shifts to the respondents to prove that they obtained the money lawfully, which she said they failed to do.
“The case (forfeiture) can go in the face of the criminal proceedings,” she said.
According to her, the respondents did not provide any justification for not granting EFCC’s application.
“They failed to provide any facts as to the level of probability to ascertain if the funds were obtained lawfully
“Upon examination of the two applications asking that the interim orders be set aside, dated July 28, 2018, from the first respondent and the interested party, I found no reason to set aside the orders. The applications are hereby dismissed.
“The only conclusion I can reach is that the funds are proceeds of unlawful activity.
“The affidavits disclose no reason why the order of final forfeiture should not be made,” she held.
After ordering the sums’ forfeiture, she directed the EFCC to file an affidavit of compliance within 14 days.