Court Vacates Interim Forfeiture Order on Properties, N725m Linked to Ex-NIMASA Boss, Akpobolokemi

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Dr. Patrick Akpobolokemi

Justice Chukwujekwu Aneke of the federal high court in Lagos, has vacated the interim forfeiture order placed on some assets which the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) had linked to a former Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA) Dr. Patrick Akpobolokemi.
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The court had on April 3, 2023, ordered the interim forfeiture of a property lying and situated at Plot No J37A Close, 2nd Avenue, Banana Island, Ikoyi, Lagos and N725,345,897.77 while granting a motion exparte filed by the EFCC.

The properties were said to belong to a Real Estate firm, Boloboloere Properties & Estates Limited, while the money, N725, 345, 897.77 million, is said to belonged to another company, Onyeinteke Global Network.

In granting the orders for interim forfeiture of the property and the money, Justice Ringim ruled: “that an order of this honourable court is hereby granted to the applicant forfeiting in the Interim to the Federal Government of Nigeria, the property lying, being and situate at Plot No J37A Close, 2nd Avenue, Banana Island, Ikoyi, Lagos, which property is reasonably suspected to have been acquired with proceeds of unlawful activity.

“That an order of this honourable court is hereby granted to the applicant forfeiting in the Interim to the Federal Government of Nigeria, the total sum of N725,345,897.77 , which sum is reasonably suspected to be proceed of unlawful activity and warehoused in the account of Onyeinteke Global Network domiciled in the UBA PLC and bearing Account No:1018325345”.

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However, the two firms, Boloboloere Properties & Estates Limited and Onyeinteke Global Network Limited, through their lawyer, A. Labi-Lawal, challenged the order through a Motion on Notice dated April 11, 2023, wherein he prayed the Court to set aside the interim forfeiture.

Labi-Lawal predicated his arguments on the fact that, the EFCC concealed material fact that, Boloboloere had been discharged on all counts bordering on allegations of money laundering brought against it in Charge No: FHC/L/31C/2015: Federal Republic of Nigeria vs. Dr. Parick Ziadeke Apobolokemi and 10 Others.

He argued that, the EFCC has failed to show or demonstrate how the Boloboloere’s property was purchased from proceeds of unlawful activities.

He urged the court for the following ordered: “an order setting aside and/or discharging the Interim Orders of this Honourable Court made on the 3rd of April, 2023, forfeiting in the interim to the Federal Government of Nigeria, the property lying and situate at Piot J, 37B Close, 2nd Avenue, Banana Island, lkoyi, Lagos.

“An order of this Honourable Court restraining the respondent (EFCC) whether acting by itself or through its agents, from advertising the order of interim forfeiture made by this honourable court in this suit on the 3rd of April, 2023, pending the hearing and determination of this Motion on Notice filed in this proceeding.”

He stated that sometime in 2015, the Federal Government of Nigeria, through the Respondent (EFCC), commenced Charge No: FHC/L/31C/2015: Federal Republic of Nigeria vs. Patrick Ziadeke Akpobolokemi & 10 Ors., wherein the Applicant was named as the 8th defendant, before the court.

He said “After four (4) years of trial in Charge No: FHC/L/31C/2015, this Honourable Court, in a considered ruling on the No Case Submission filed by the applicant, found that the respondent has failed to prove any of the allegations of fraud against the applicant and consequently discharged it of alt criminal liabilities in relation to the offences contained in the said Charge, which are also the same allegations made against the Applicant in the Respondent’s Motion Ex Parte in this proceedings.

“Notwithstanding the respondent’s full knowledge of the discharge of the applicant from all criminal liabilities in Charge No: FHC/L/31C/2015, the respondent (EFCC) deliberately and with the intention of misleading this Honourable Court, failed and refused to disclose the existence of the decision in Charge No: FHC/L/31C/2015 to this Honourable Court.

“The decision in Charge No: FHC/L/31C/2015 is a final decision and is binding on the Respondent. And that no new fact(s) has occurred since the discharge of the Applicant in Charge No: FHC/L/31C/2015 to warrant the respondent’s application for interim forfeiture and/or the grant of same, on the Applicant’s property.

“The Interim Forfeiture Order obtained by the Respondent in this proceeding were obtained on misrepresentation, suppression and concealment of material facts and ought to be discharged forthwith.

“The advertisement of the Order of Interim Forfeiture by the Respondent or its agents will render any order this Honourable Court might make in respect of this Motion on Notice nugatory and foist a fait accompli on this Honourable Court.

In his ruling, Justice Aneke agreed with the arguments canvassed by Boloboloere’s lawyer, and set aside it’s earlier orders of Interim Forfeiture.

The court also dismissed EFCC’s motion on notice for final forfeiture order.

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