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Oyo-Ita in fresh trouble

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Justice Folashade Ogunbanjo-Giwa of the Federal High Court, Abuja on Thursday ordered the permanent forfeiture of some assets said to have been returned by a suspect allegedly linked to the suspended Head of Service of the Federation, Mrs. Winifred Oyo-Ita.

The order was a sequel to an application for permanent forfeiture by counsel to the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) M. S. Abubakar.
Oyo-Ita is currently under indefinite suspension pending the outcome of the investigation of allegations against her

At Thursday’s proceedings, Abubakar informed the court that between the last adjournment on June 28, 2019, when the court granted an ex parte application for the interim forfeiture of the assets and till date, no party had come forward to lay claim to the funds.

He added that the unnamed suspect who was served with the order of interim forfeiture did not respond.

According to Abubakar, the funds were voluntarily returned to the commission as proceeds of crime.

Following the failure of any claimant to the funds, the anti-graft agency’s lawyer, therefore, prayed the court to make the order permanent, adding that the money had been paid into an account with the Central Bank of Nigeria immediately it was returned by the suspect.

In a short ruling, Justice Ogunbanjo-Giwa subsequently granted the request of the Commission and ordered for the permanent forfeiture of the said assets.

It should be noted that details of the case were not read out in the open court when the judge made the order of final forfeiture of the monetary assets to the Federal Government.

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EFCC

EFCC seeks forfeiture of properties linked to Diezani

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The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) has traced assets worth $73million and N350 million to Mr. Kola Aluko, an associate of a former Minister of Petroleum Resources, Mrs. Diezani Alison-Madueke.

The commission has asked two separate courts in Abuja and Lagos to give an order for the permanent forfeiture of the exotic mansions to the Federal Government.
The properties are Plot 3389 and Plot 3390, House 2, Margaret Thatcher Close, Asokoro Cadastral Zone, Abuja; as well as Avenue Towers, Plot 1391, Tiamiyu Savage Street, Victoria Island, Lagos.

The EFCC said Plot 3389 and Plot 3390 in Abuja were purchased for N350 million and $18 million, respectively, while the Lagos property was bought for $55million.

The commission is also seeking the final forfeiture of an $18 million mansion it has traced to Aluko before a Federal High Court, Abuja

The EFCC said the Abuja choice property, “very close to the seat of power at the Presidential Villa, is made up of a Guest House, Boys Quarters, Security Outpost, Swimming Pool and Underground Control Room for the remote control of electrical appliances in the property.

“The property is said to be furnished with luxury and very expensive items.”

Following a court order by Justice Okon Abang, the choice property and five others were temporarily forfeited to the Federal Government in 2016.

The court has given Aluko and others linked with the property till December 11 to prove their innocence that the assets were not bought with illicit funds.

Aluko has an opportunity to prove to the Federal High Court in Abuja that the $18 million choice property and other highbrow properties were not acquired through the proceeds of crime.

The other five-choice properties that are temporarily forfeited to the Federal Government include Plot 1390 Tiamiyu Savage, Victoria Island, Lagos and Plot 1391, Tiamiyu Savage, Victoria Island, popularly called Avenue Towers.

After granting the application, Justice Liman directed the EFCC to publish the order in a national newspaper.

He adjourned till November 12 for anyone interested in the properties to appear before him to show cause why they should not be permanently forfeited to the Federal Government.

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EFCC

Court orders forfeiture of Saraki houses in Lagos

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A Federal High Court in Lagos has ordered the interim forfeiture of two properties in Ikoyi, Lagos, belonging to former Senate President, Dr. Bukola Saraki. Justice Mohammed Liman made the order following an ex parte application by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission ( EFCC).

Bukola Saraki

The EFCC, through its counsel Nnaemeka Omewa, said it was seeking an order of interim forfeiture because the properties located at 17A McDonald Road, Ikoyi, Eti Osa Local Government Area, were allegedly acquired through “proceeds of unlawful activities”.
Part of the reliefs sought by the EFCC included “An order of this honorable court forfeiting to the Federal Government of Nigeria landed property with appurtenances situate, lying and known as No. 17A McDonald Road, Ikoyi, Eti Osa Local Government Area of Lagos State found and recovered from the respondent which property is reasonably suspected to have been acquired with proceeds of unlawful activity”.
The commission alleged that while serving as Kwara State Governor, Saraki withdrew over N12 billion cash from the state’s account and paid the same into his accounts domiciled in Access and Zenith Banks through one of his personal assistant, Abdul Adama.

Granting the application, Justice Liman, ordered interim forfeiture of the two properties.

He also instructed that the EFCC should publish the order in a national newspaper within 14 days, for anyone with interest in the properties to show cause, why they should not be permanently forfeited to the Federal Government.

The Federal Government had arraigned Saraki at the Code of Conduct Tribunal (CCT) while he was the nation’s number three citizen.

He was accused of failing to declare his assets, an allegation he denied, alleging that he was being witch-hunted.
The Supreme Court subsequently dismissed the false assets declaration trial.

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FBI Indictment: EFCC Arrests 28, Recovers N468m

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The joint operation by the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) on internet fraud has led to the arrest of 28 suspected internet fraudsters and the recovery of N486 million.

The EFCC said yesterday that 80 cases were under investigation in the joint operation, which started in 2018.
The acting Chairman of EFCC, Ibrahim Magu, said collaboration between the commission and the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) has led to the recovery of the sums of $314,000 and N373,000,000.00, respectively from perpetrators of computer-related fraud.
Magu said the money was traced to various commercial banks by the Lagos Zonal office of the commission.
He also disclosed that the recent joint operations coordinated by the commission had yielded 28 arrests, adding that 14 suspects had been charged and convicted.

The EFCC chairman further stated that “nine of the suspects are currently undergoing trial, while five are still under investigations. Over 80 cases are still under investigation from the EFCC-FBI joint operations.”

Speaking through the Lagos Zonal Head of the EFCC, Mohammed Rabo, Magu added that the Lagos zone of the commission, prior to the collaborative efforts with the FBI, had independently launched a sustained operation on perpetrators of various computer-related frauds.

“From 2018 to date, the EFCC had launched a sustained operation on perpetrators of various computer-related frauds, which resulted in over 200 arrests, 130 convictions, and recovery of a large number of exotic cars and properties suspected to have been acquired through the proceeds of crime.

“We had independently launched intensive investigative actions against the infamous Yahoo yahoo boys culminating in various strategic raids and onslaught on their hideouts”, he said, while noting that the “efforts in this regard have recorded tremendous successes leading to a number of arrests, prosecutions, and convictions.”

Magu also called on the media to continue to lend its voice to the fight against corruption and economic and financial crimes, saying that “no one has the monopoly of knowledge of how the fight should be fought and won”.

“All the critical stakeholders, particularly the media, must continue to collaborate and cooperate with us to make the fight a success.
“I urge you to continue to help us sensitize, mobilize and educate all the critical stakeholders to continue to support the fight against economic and financial crimes. We must collectively strive to achieve the Nigeria of our dream”, he said.

Magu said: “It is very critical for you to understand that you owe the youth that social responsibility of awakening their consciousness to the importance of a noble life devoid of crimes.”
He also reiterated that the commission would leave no stone unturned towards stamping out corruption and economic and financial crimes from our society.

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Internet Scam: FBI clamps down on over 70 Nigerians in Cyber Fraud saga

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Just after Nigerians woke up to the news that America’s Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) arrested Invictus Group’s Obinwanne Okeke over alleged fraud, more bad news followed earlier today as the names of 80 more Nigerians were released by the anti-crime agency. The suspects have been accused of conspiracy to commit fraud, conspiracy to launder money, aggravated identity theft, and other serious financial crimes perpetrated through Business Email Compromise scams.


The FBI is reportedly working with the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, to nab the now-at-large suspects. A 252-count federal grand jury indictment was unsealed charging 80 defendants, most of whom are Nigerian nationals, with participating in a massive conspiracy to steal millions of dollars through a variety of fraud schemes and launder the funds through a Los Angeles-based money laundering network.
The indictment was unsealed after law enforcement authorities arrested 14 defendants across the United States, with 11 of those arrests taking place in the Los Angeles region. Two defendants were already in federal custody on other charges, and one was arrested earlier this week. The remaining defendants are believed to be abroad, with most them located in Nigeria.
The indictment alleges that the 80 defendants and others used various online fraud schemes – including business email compromise (BEC) frauds, romance scams, and schemes targeting the elderly – to defraud victims out of millions of dollars.
According to a criminal complaint , co-conspirators based in Nigeria, the United States and other countries contacted the lead defendants in the indictment – Valentine Iro, 31, of Carson, and Chukwudi Christogunus Igbokwe, 38, of Gardena, both Nigerian citizens – for bank and money-service accounts that could receive funds fraudulently obtained from victims. Once members of the conspiracy convinced victims to send money under false pretenses, Iro and Igbokwe coordinated the receipt of funds and oversaw an extensive money-laundering network, according to the 145-page indictment.
The indictment and criminal complaint allege that Iro and Igbokwe, who were among those arrested this morning, were involved in schemes resulting in the fraudulent transfer of at least $6 million in fraudulently-obtained funds – and the overall conspiracy was responsible for the attempted theft of at least an additional $40 million.

“This case is part of our ongoing efforts to protect Americans from fraudulent online schemes and to bring to justice those who prey upon American citizens and businesses,” said United States Attorney Nick Hanna. “Today, we have taken a major step to disrupt criminal networks that use BEC schemes, romance scams and other frauds to fleece victims. This indictment sends a message that we will identify perpetrators – no matter where they reside – and we will cut off the flow of ill-gotten gains.”
“Today’s announcement highlights the extensive efforts that organized criminal groups will engage in to perpetrate BEC schemes that target American citizens and their hard-earned assets,” said Assistant Director in Charge Paul Delacourt of the FBI’s Los Angeles Field Office. “Billions of dollars are lost annually, and we urge citizens to be aware of these sophisticated financial schemes to protect themselves or their businesses from becoming unsuspecting victims. The FBI is committed to working with our partner agencies worldwide to continue to identify these cybercriminals and to dismantle their networks.”

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