The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) has seized about N1, 260, 000, 000 from Heritage Bank and Secure Electronic Technologies Limited.
Other forms of cash finally forfeited to the government are $327, 132.35, £167.85 and €327.90.
According to the anti-graft commission, the seizure of the cash followed a court order granting final forfeiture of the sum.
A document obtained by The Newsmen said: “Sequel to the investigation of the unlawful activities of Heritage Bank Plc, the sum of N1,260.000,000.00, $327,132.35, £167.85 and €157.90 proceeds of the Bank’s unlawful activities were forfeited to Federal Government Nigeria in suit NO: FHC/L/CS/1349/2018 (copy attached and marked A-A6).
“The funds were recovered and registered with the Commission as follows; N300,000,000,00 – 1485/2017; N245,000,000,00 -1072/2018 ; N115,000,000.00- 700/2018; N100,000,000,00 – 234/2018 ; N120,000,000.00- 852/2018; N120,000,000.00 -1021/2018; N157,000,000.00 -1524/2017; N10,000,000.00- 1421/2017; N 8,000,000.00- 246/2018; and N85,000,000,00 – 1311/2017
“Also see attached, marked ‘B-B3’ transfer instruction for the sum of $327,132.35, £167.85 and €327.90 to Central Bank of Nigeria.
The document said the EFCC on September12, 2018, praying for the following order:
“A final order of the court forfeiting to the Federal Government of Nigeria the sums of N1,260,000,000.00, $327,132.35, £167.85 and €157.90 found by the Commission which funds are reasonably suspected to be proceeds of unlawful activities.
“And for such further or other orders as this Honourable Court may deem fit to make in the given circumstances.”
A judgment on November 13, 2018 on the EFCC’s application by Justice Chuka Austine Obiozor said: “Upon reading the affidavit in support with all the exhibits attached thereto sworn to by Peter Chimdinma, Male. Christian, Nigerian citizen and operative of the E.F.C.C, 15A Awolowo Road, lkoyi – Lagos State and written address filed at this Court Registry, Ikoyi-Lagos, it is hereby ordered as follows:
“ An Order for final forfeiture of the sums of money to with: N1,260,000,000 ; $327, 132. 35 (US) ; £167.85; and €157.90 found by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission in the custody of the Respondents, being sums reasonably suspected to be proceeds of unlawful activities, captured in account numbers 5133316817, 2100000477. 2100000446. 2100000484, 2100000491. 2100000453, 2100000460, 5100000499 and 5100005002 be and are hereby forfeited to the Government of the Federation of Nigeria.”
The trial judge, Justice Obiozor, said nobody of organization disputed EFCC’s application for the forfeiture of the cash.
He added: “Now, I have carefully appraised the affidavit in support of the motion for final forfeiture, which is not controverted. I note that the position of the law is that the absence of a refutal of the facts therein by the Respondents, tantamount to admission on their part of the depositions.
“By the special provisions of section 44 (2) (b) of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 (as amended), the Constitution makes it permissible for properties to be forfeited in a non-conviction based forfeiture process in accordance with the law.
“The enabling law in this respect is the Advance Fee Fraud and other Fraud Related Offences Act, 2006, which in section 17 allows the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission to seek an order for forfeiture of properties reasonably suspected by the Commission to be proceeds of unlawful activities.
“This non-conviction forfeiture model is activated by way of action which is sui generis. See La-Wari Furniture and Baths Ltd. V. FRN (2018) LPELR-43507 See also Dame Patience Jonathan V. FRN (2018) LPELR-43505.
“The key point to underscore here is that the Commission has a duty to demonstrate prima facie proof before the court to discharge the onus of proof on it. Thereafter, the evidential burden of asserting the contrary, namely, that the properties concerned are not proceeds of unlawful activity shifts to the Respondent. See La-Wari Furniture & Baths V. FRN, supra.
“I have appraised the evidence adduced in the Affidavit of the Applicant inclusive of Exhibits “EFCC1” to “EFCC 16c”.
“ The Court is satisfied that the Applicant has made out a prima facie case in keeping with eatablish principles-see the Supreme Court in Felimon v. E.F.C.C (2018) 7 N W L R (Pt. 1617) 55, 67; to justify the grant of the final order for forfeiture sought. Accordingly, the Applicant’s claim succeeds.”