The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) on Wednesday urged the Federal High Court in Lagos to order the forfeiture of Flat 7B in Osborne Towers, Ikoyi, to the Federal Government.
Its lawyer Mr Rotimi Oyedepo prayed the court to refuse an application by Union Bank of Nigeria Plc which seeks to discharge an interim order forfeiting the flat.
He said the bank’s application was designed to scuttle the forfeiture hearing and was in bad faith.
Oyedepo said since the bank had admitted selling the flat to Chobe Ventures Ltd, it would amount to eating its cake and having it by asking the court not to order the flat’s forfeiture.
Large sums of money were found in flat, including $43,449,947, N23, 218,000 and £27,800, which were forfeited to the Federal Government last June 6.
EFCC accused former National Intelligence Agency (NIA) Director-General Ayodele Oke of fraudulently converting the agency’s funds and hiding them in the flat.
It alleged that Oke’s wife, Folasade, used part of the funds to buy the flat.
The court, last November 9, ordered the flat’s temporary forfeiture to the Federal Government.
Justice Saliu Saidu ruled that it would permanently be forfeited if no one turned up to justify ownership within 14 days.
Union Bank, through its lawyer Chief Ajibola Aribisala (SAN), filed applications praying the court not to order the flat’s final forfeiture.
In a supporting affidavit, the bank said the flat was part of 16, Osborne Road, Ikoyi, belonging to a former two-term governor of Bauchi State Alhaji Ahmadu Adamu Mu’azu.
The bank said Muazu mortgaged the property to it by virtue of a tripartite deed of legal mortgage of November 1, 2011.
“The property was mortgaged to United Bank to secure a loan granted to Tripple A Properties & Investment Ltd by Union Bank,” the bank said.
It said the original title deed was vested in it, adding that the loan’s tenor had expired but it was not liquidated.
Union Bank said it sold the flat to Chobe Ventures, owned by Oke’s wife, with an agreement that flat’s owner would observe several “covenants”, including payment of service charges, land use charge and levies, among others.
The bank said Flat 7B forms part of several flats and that it “cannot be severed from the other flats in the building”.
It added non-observance of any of the terms of the agreement would “severely affect the other users of the property”.
Union Bank said Chobe Ventures’ act of allowing “strangers” to stash illegally monies in the flat violated their agreement, which entitles the bank to nullify the flat’s sale.
“The title of Chobe Ventures has not yet been registered and the legal title of the property still resides in Union Bank,” it said.
Among others, the bank said granting the order of final forfeiture would prevent it from enforcing the terms of the agreement on which the flat sale was based.
But, Oyedepo said based on Section 17 of the Advance Fee Fraud and other Related Offences Act, any property that is reasonably suspected to be a proceed of crime is liable to be forfeited.
“I urged your Lordship to grant this application, particularly in view of the fact that Chobe Ventures who allegedly used the proceeds of unlawful activity to acquire the property in issue did not oppose this application or controvert the facts,” Oyedepo said.
Justice Saidu adjourned till January 19 for the ruling.
Source: The Nation